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But a tortoise shaken by asthma
goes on protesting

 

The democratization of literature and society makes the elitist terms of Arnold’s criticism impossible. The mediating society which provides the norms for judging and evaluating literature has gone and consequently each judicial critic can speak only for himself.

Once the critic is released from the preconceptions of a moral and evaluating approach he is obliged to preserve a tolerance for every variety of poetic expression and a respect for every poet’s individuality. Such a phrase as ‘of course. I don’t like this kind of poetry’ can never be uttered by a serious critic. The critic’s obligation is to see literature as a body of knowledge which can be studied systematically and as a critic he must free himself from all merely personal responses.

The reason for this is clear. Arnold’s kind of arbritrative disinterestedness has failed, and we must find a higher disinterestedness transcending the limits of any concerned segments of society. One needs to stand outside of concern altogether, committed only to the truth of correspondence and literature.

– Malcolm Bradbury

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