Literary Criticism

Jeffrey Steele

in The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195331035
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Literary Criticism

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  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)


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This article is about the Transcendentalist critics and their style of criticism. Though there were various opinions on how a literary work should be formed, Transcendentalists thought neither creation nor reading should take place in solitude; they constantly evaluated the factors that shaped creativity and critical awareness. But individual writers linked critical perception to personal or cultural factors. It was the variety of reading practices that formed the foundation of their critical analyses. Transcendentalists such as Orestes Brownson and Margaret Fuller insisted that literary acts needed to be connected to their material and cultural contexts, rather than focusing solely on the products of genius. Literature, in their eyes, was not only expressive but also relational in its form and function. The article states that most of the Transcendentalists insisted that writers must “sympathize with the people in their sentiments and passions, their joys and sorrows”.

Keywords: critic; fiction; Emersonian legacy; interpretation; dialogic

Article.  6125 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)

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