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Literary CriticismA New History$
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Gary Day

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780748615636

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748615636.001.0001

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Greeks and Romans

Greeks and Romans

(p.10) Chapter 1 Greeks and Romans
Literary Criticism

Gary Day

Edinburgh University Press

The phrase ‘criticism in crisis’ enjoyed considerable vogue in the late twentieth century. The change from monarchy to democracy was accompanied by a change in the conception of poetic language. The language of criticism is forged in the struggle between the economy and education, a struggle in which the former is usually, but never wholly, victorious. The spread of writing changes the nature of criticism. The process of secularisation meant that inspiration was no longer assumed to be the source of the poet's song. Horace has a more diffuse conception of poetry than either Plato or Aristotle. Longinus was worried about the fate of poetry. Quintilianus's division of masculine and feminine feeds into the conventional distinction between high culture and popular culture. Plutarch gives advice on how to read. Longinus's treatise on the sublime focuses on oratory but he is careful to show that it is closely related to poetry.

Keywords:   language of criticism, poetic language, writing, secularisation, Horace, Plato, Aristotle, Quintilianus, Longinus, Plutarch

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