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Paul Elmer More
Literary Criticism as the History of Ideas
Paul Elmer More
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Stephen L. Tanner - Author
N/A
Hardcover - 267 pages
Release Date: July 1987
ISBN10: 0-88706-560-0
ISBN13: 978-0-88706-560-6

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Summary

Paul Elmer More was one of the leaders of the New Humanism, the most important critical movement in the United States during the first decades of this century. It was a wide-ranging moral approach to literary and cultural criticism that laid the intellectual foundation for American conservatism. Though eclipsed in the realm of critical fashions by more exclusively aesthetic approaches, the moral approach retains its appeal among general readers, and More has remained known and respected among those concerned with literature as an expression of ideas and values, as a criticism of life.

Seriously considered for the Nobel Prize on two occasions, More wrote over a dozen volumes of literary criticism, which Robert Spiller, in the Literary History of the United States, calls "the utmost ambitious and often the most penetrating body of judicial literary criticism in our literature." Among those who have praised More's brilliant and comprehensive mind is T. S. Eliot, who in acknowledging his indebtedness to More referred to him as "one of the two wisest men I have known."

Focusing on the continuity of More's literary criticism, Stephen L. Tanner has performed the useful service of distilling from More's diverse and prolific literary essays the characteristic principles that determined his literary judgments. Chief among these principles is a concept of dualism that views each individual as being subject to the opposing forces of "passion of the moment and the eternal law above and within." This concept is the anchor point of More's probing critique of the excessive and dehumanizing forms of romanticism, naturalism, humanitarianism, scientism, and rationalism. And it accounts for his forceful advocacy of the "inner check" and the "law of measure."


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Table of Contents

Preface

One Introduction

The Argument

More's Objectives

The Development of More's Thought

Characteristics of More's Method

Limitations and Procedures

Two First Principles

Art and Life

Dualism

Humanism

Rationalism

Science

Romanticism

Humanitarianism

Conclusion

Three The Renaissance

The Spirit of the Renaissance

The Religious Imagination

The Ethos of the Restoration

Conclusion

Four The Eighteenth Century

A Battle of the Wits

A Compliant Brotherhood

Rousseau and the Drift to Humanitarianism

The Quarrelsome Twins of Rational Science and Irrational Romanticism

Five The Nineteenth Century

The Romantic Revolution in England

The Philosophy of Change

The Religious Spirit

Morality and Fiction

Foreign Voices

Currents of Literary Criticism

The Decadent Illusion

Conclusion

Six American Literature

More and the New England Tradition

The Spirit of Early New England

The Flowering of New England

The Dispossessed Conscience

Seven The Twentieth Century

More and the Modern Spirit

The Demon of the Absolute

Modern Currents in American Literature

The Lust of Irresponsibility

Eight Conclusion

Summary of Historical Continuity

Summary of Philosophical Continuity

More's Achievement

List of Abbreviations

Notes

Index


Related Subjects
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Related Titles

Ethnography Unbound
Ethnography Unbound
Writing Environments
Writing Environments
Esperanto
Esperanto
Emancipatory Movements in Composition
Emancipatory Movements in Composition
Measured Meals
Measured Meals
Complementation and Case Grammar
Complementation and Case Grammar
Ecocomposition
Ecocomposition
How the Gene Got Its Groove
How the Gene Got Its Groove
Informal Lectures on Formal Semantics
Informal Lectures on Formal Semantics
Negation, Subjectivity, and The History of Rhetoric
Negation, Subjectivity, and The History of Rhetoric



 
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