Orienting the Orientation of Critical Theories

Dr. S. Udhayakumar
Assistant Professor, Department of English and Comparative Literature,
School of English and Foreign Languages, Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai
Volume 6, Issue 1, December 2017, Pages: 108-115
ISSN: 2320-2645, UGC Approved Journal No. 44248, Impact Factor: 3.125


This paper deals with how the basic human trait of criticism develops in to literary criticism and the birth of the new criticism. It also speaks about how new criticism deviates from the previous criticisms by advocating close reading to judge a poem. It deals with intentional fallacy and affective fallacy and how they spoil the real and impersonal analysis of a poem. New criticism says that poetry should be freed from the clutches of the author, audience and the universe. There should be a poetic autonomy to deliver the poetic truth.This paper gives a brief account of the long tradition of literary criticism as done by M.H.Abrams in his essay ‘Orientation of Critical Theories’. It analyses the classification of literary criticism under four categories made by M.H.Abrams and explains one by one. This paper points out that a survey has been made by M.H.Abrams genuinely and he gives reasons for the terminologies mimetic, pragmatic, expressive and objective he used in his essay. This paper concludes saying that mimetic is imitative of the universe, pragmatic is the impact created upon the minds of the reader, expressive is the expression of the author’s inner feelings and objective is to consider the poem as an object.