A History of Literary Criticism and Theory


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii

Abbreviations of Frequently Cited Works ix

Introduction 1

Part I Ancient Greek Criticism 7

Classical Literary Criticism: Intellectual and Political Backgrounds 9

1 Plato (428-ca. 347 bc) 19

2 Aristotle (384-322 bc) 41

Part II The Traditions of Rhetoric 63

3 Greek Rhetoric 65
Protagoras, Gorgias, Antiphon, Lysias, Isocrates, Plato, Aristotle

4 The Hellenistic Period and Roman Rhetoric 80
Rhetorica, Cicero, Quintilian Part III Greek and Latin Criticism During the Roman Empire 103

5 Horace (65-8 bc) 105

6 Longinus (First Century ad) 118

7 Neo-Platonism 129
Plotinus, Macrobius, Boethius Part IV The Medieval Era 149

8 The Early Middle Ages 151

St. Augustine

9 The Later Middle Ages 166
Hugh of St. Victor, John of Salisbury, Dante Alighieri, Geoffrey de Vinsauf, Ibn Rushd (Averroes), St. Thomas Aquinas

10 Transitions: Medieval Humanism 215
Giovanni Boccaccio, Christine de Pisan Part V The Early Modern Period to the Enlightenment 227

11 The Early Modern Period 229
Giambattista Giraldi, Lodovico Castelvetro, Giacopo Mazzoni, Torquato Tasso, Joachim Du Bellay, Pierre de Ronsard, Sir Philip Sidney, George Gascoigne, George Puttenham

12 Neoclassical Literary Criticism 273
Pierre Corneille, Nicolas Boileau, John Dryden, Alexander Pope, Aphra Behn, Samuel Johnson

13 The Enlightenment 311
John Locke, Joseph Addison, Giambattista Vico, David Hume, Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft Part VI The Earlier Nineteenth Century and Romanticism 347

Introduction to the Modern Period 349

14 The Kantian System and Kant's Aesthetics 357

15 G. W. F. Hegel (1770-1831) 382

16 Romanticism (I): Germany and France 408
Friedrich von Schiller, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Germaine de Stael

17 Romanticism (II): England and America 428
William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allan Poe Part VII The Later Nineteenth Century 467

18 Realism and Naturalism 469
George Eliot, Emile Zola, William Dean Howells, Henry James

19 Symbolism and Aestheticism 489
Charles Baudelaire, Walter Pater, Oscar Wilde

20 The Heterological Thinkers 502
Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Henri Bergson, Matthew Arnold

21 Marxism 527
Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Gyoergy Lukacs, Terry Eagleton Part VIII The Twentieth Century 555

The Twentieth Century: Backgrounds and Perspectives 557

22 Psychoanalytic Criticism 571
Freud and Lacan

23 Formalisms 602
Victor Shklovsky, Boris Eichenbaum, Mikhail Bakhtin, Roman Jakobson, John Crowe Ransom, William K. Wimsatt, Monroe C. Beardsley, T. S. Eliot

24 Structuralism 631
Ferdinand de Saussure, Roland Barthes

25 Deconstruction 649
Jacques Derrida

26 Feminist Criticism 667
Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir, Elaine Showalter, Michele Barrett, Julia Kristeva, Helene Cixous

27 Reader-Response and Reception Theory 708
Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Hans Robert Jauss, Wolfgang Iser, Stanley Fish

28 Postcolonial Criticism 737
Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Homi Bhabha, Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

29 New Historicism 760
Stephen Greenblatt, Michel Foucault

Epilogue 772

Selective Bibliography 777

Index 791

About the Author

M.A.R. Habib is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University. He received his D.Phil. in English from Oxford University, and is the author of five books, including Modern Literary Criticism and Theory: A History (Blackwell, 2007).


This tombstone-sized book by Habib (English, Rutgers Univ.) attempts the ambitious goal of covering the history of literary criticism from antiquity to the present. But Habib is quick to state that his study is selective, omitting many feminists, deconstructionists, and certain proponents of New Historicism because there is simply not enough room to include everything. Instead, he strives to place modern literary theory within a historical context, for he believes that the past has a lot to say about what we believe today. As a result, the 20th century is not addressed until the latter half of the book. Beginning with Plato and Aristotle, Habib traces how the study of literature evolved in the West. His strength lies in his short segments, which allow readers to absorb the major thoughts of the critics and movements without being overwhelmed. While the book runs nearly 900 pages, it is easy to maneuver. All told, Habib delivers an accessible yet scholarly survey of literary criticism. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries.-Ron Ratliff, Kansas State Univ. Lib., Manhattan Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Winner of a 2006 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title Award

"[A] magnificently comprehensive history of literary criticism. Authoritative, formidable, generous and compassionate ... Habib's achievements are many, but two stand out. The first is the putting of theory into historical perspective and the second is to make connections between criticism and philosophy."
Times Higher Education Supplement

"This is a book to be read cover to cover, and those who undertake that happy task will be better informed. They will understand the twin pillars of Western civilization, Hellenism and the Judaic Christian ethic. They will understand the intersections of philosophy, literature, and religion. They will understand Plato, Aristotle, the Age of Enlightenment, Romanticism, and the three great thinkers who forever shifted thought at the beginning of the 20th century: Marx, Freud, and Darwin. Dividing the discussion into eight chronological sections, from ancient Greece to the 20th century, Habib (English, Rutgers Univ.) discusses each period in detail, exploring major critical figures and their works in a way that illuminates, rather than exhausts, the issues they are concerned with. His explorations entice one to read more, and that is the best kind of criticism. Summing Up: Essential. All readers; all levels."

"Philosophically sophisticated and full of fascinating connections and distinctions ...a monumental achievement."
Ron Bush, University of Oxford

"Rafey Habib's History of Literary Criticism, with its substantial grounding in classical texts and its excellent coverage of contemporary criticism and theory, is certain to be as highly regarded as Wimsatt and Brooks' Literary Criticism: A Short History. Habib's lucidity and wit will also make his book highly teachable."
Michael Payne, Bucknell University

"This huge undertaking offers a comprehensive, expository and lucid account - including close readings of selected formative texts - of the history of literary criticism and theory from the earliest western classics to influential contemporary movements, while also embedding these in their broader social, cultural and philosophical contexts. A major resource - as narrative or as compendium - for students at all levels."
Peter Widdowson, University of Gloucestershire

"Beginning with Plato and Aristotle, Habib traces how the study of literature evolved in the West. His strength lies in his short segments, which allow readers to absorb the major thoughts of the critics and movements without being overwhelmed. While the book runs nearly 900 pages, it is easy to maneuver. All told, Habib delivers an accessible yet scholarly survey of literary criticism."
Ron Ratliff, Kansas State University

"A History of Literary Criticism: From Plato to the Present by M. A. R. Habib is a useful introduction and quick reference ... The attention to each writer and their major works is significant and detailed, with major historical interpretive shifts noted."
Studies in English Literature 1500 - 1900

"Best single-volume introduction to Western literary theory ... .With its admirably clear explanation of concepts and terminology, [it] admirably fulfils the promise of its title."
Literary Research Guide"Habib's survey of literary theory and criticism is serious, ambitious, informative and intellectually challenging." Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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