Literary criticism is the evaluation, analysis, description, or interpretation of literary works. It is usually in the form of a critical essay, but in-depth book reviews can sometimes be considered literary criticism.
Criticism may examine a particular literary work, or may look at an author's writings as a whole. (ipl2)
Why study literary criticism?
Authors present us with work that can have multiple meanings, expecting us to consider thoughtfully - to interpret. Writers and critics build on each others' understanding of a work of literature in a kind of dialog. Good criticism can help us develop a better understanding of a work. In addition, it can help us develop a point of view about a work, whether or not we agree with the opinions of the critic.
When looking at criticism, check for:
Opinions supported by evidence, relating to:
When looking for criticism, AVOID:
Critical texts can be found via the online catalog by doing an advanced search with the
author's last name and the word criticism - searching for the author as subject (last name, first name):
Subject : Hemingway, Ernest
Subject : criticism
One of the results you will get is the following :
Ernest Hemingway's A farewell to arms /edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom. (Series: Bloom's notes)
Call #: 813 Ern
Search the title of the work as "keyword" and criticism as a "subject." This will pick up the title of the work in an anthology of critical essays.
Keyword : 1984 Subject : criticism
Literature guides can help you with themes, and character details, they should not take the place of reading the book. They are organized by title of work.
Bibliomania / Study Guides Read for biographical information, themes, background.
CliffNotes:Literature Notes Look for themes, biographical information
LitCharts Pay site but you can get the initial summaries for free.
Shmoop: Literature Look for themes, analysis information.