Cleanth Brooks was an American literary critic and professor. . In “The Formalist Critics,” Brooks offers “some articles of faith” (qtd. in Leitch ) to which he subscribes. These articles. “The Formalist Critics.” by Cleanth Brooks. Here are some articles of faith I could subscribe to: That literary criticism is a description and an evaluation of its object . Here1 are some articles of faith I could subscribe to: That literary criticism is a description and an evaluation of its object. That the primary concern of criticism is .

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Poststructuralists in particular saw a poem’s resistance and warped language as competing with its harmony and balance that Brooks celebrates Leitch Retrieved from ” https: Cleanth and William, natural born sons, and Murray Brooks, actually born Hewitt Witherspoon, whom Bessie Lee Witherspoon kidnapped from her brother Forrest Bedford Witherspoon as a young baby after the natural mother had died.

Brooks and Warren were teaching using textbooks “full of biographical facts and impressionistic criticism” Singh Since the other options would be either to give any reading equal status with any other reading, or to establish a group of “‘qualified’ readers” and use those as a range of standard interpretations.

As testament to Brooks’ influence, fellow critic and former teacher John Crowe Ransom calls Brooks “the most forceful and influential critic of poetry that we have” qtd.

Cleanth Brooks

From this frustration, Brooks and Warren published Understanding Poetry. Brooks formulated these guidelines in reaction to ornamentalist theories of poetry, to the common practice of critics going outside the poem to historical or biographical contextsand his and Warren’s frustration with trying to teach college students to analyze poetry and literature Leitch With his writing, Brooks helped to formulate formalist criticismemphasizing “the interior life of a poem” Leitch and codifying the principles of close reading.

She later was able to change his name to Murray Brooks and continued to raise him as her own, causing quite a rift in her own family and alienating herself from Cleanth and William. These seemingly contradictory forces in a poem create tension and paradoxical irony according to Brooks, but critics questioned whether irony leads to a poem’s unity or undermines it Leitch October 16, Murray, KentuckyU.

InBrooks received his M. This page was last edited on 8 Novemberat The journal was known for its criticism and creative writing, marking it as one of the leading journals of the time Leitch Cleanth mentioned on more than one occasion that she so doted on Murray Hewitt that she no longer had a relationship with Cleanth and William.


For Brooks, nearly everything brools critic evaluates must come from within the text itself. These articles exemplify the tenets of New Criticism:. At Louisiana State Universityprompted by their students’ inability to interpret poetry, the two put together a booklet that modeled close reading through examples Leitch Ronald Crane was particularly hostile to the views of Brooks and the other New Critics.

In addition to arguing against historical, biographical, and didactic readings of a poem, Brooks believed that a poem should not be criticized on the basis of its effect on the reader. In the book, the authors assert poetry should be taught as poetry, and the critic should resist reducing a poem to a simple paraphrase, explicating it through biographical or historical contexts, and interpreting it didactically Singh This close reading formed the foundation on which the New Critical movement was based and helped shape Brooks’ approach to criticism Formalsit Arthur Mizener commended Brooks and Warren for offering for,alist new way of critids poetry:.

Brooks rebuffed the accusations that New Criticism has an “antihistorical thrust” Leitch and a “neglect of context” Leitch He says that “a detailed description of my emotional state on reading certain works has little to do with indicating to an interested reader cleaanth the work is and how the parts of it are related” Rivkin Further, Winchell praises Brooks for “help[ing] invent the modern literary quarterly” through the success of The Southern Review.

He is best known for his contributions to New Criticism in the midth century and for revolutionizing the teaching of poetry in American higher education. New Gormalist was accused by critics of having a contradictory nature.

In the first case, a correct or “standard” reading would become impossible; in the second case, an ideal reader has still been assumed under the guise of multiple ideal readers Rivkin He describes summative, reductionist reading of poetry with a phrase still popular today: Understanding Poetry was an unparalleled success and remains “a classic formalit for the intellectual and imaginative clfanth required for the understanding of poetry” Singh New Criticism involves examining a poem’s “technical elements, textual patterns, and incongruities” Leitch with a kind of scientific rigor and precision.

InWarren joined the English department at Louisiana State, leading Brooks and Warren to collaborate on many works of criticism and pedagogy. His best-known works, The Well Wrought Urn: His tenure at Yale was marked by ongoing research into Southern literature, which resulted in the publication of Brooks’ studies of William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha CountyLeitch Attending McTyeire School, a private academy, he received a classical education and went on to study at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennesseewhere he received his B.


From toBrooks held many academic positions and received a number of distinguished fellowships and honorary doctorates. In a conversation lasting several hours, Brooks and Faulkner spent most of their time discussing dogs and coon hunting.

The textbooks failed to show how poetic language differed from the language of an editorial or a work of non-fiction. He received his B. Thus, Brooks does not accept the idea of considering critics’ emotional responses to works of literature as a legitimate approach to criticism.

Stevenson of Converse College notes Brooks “redirect[ed] and revolutionize[d] the teaching of literature in American colleges and universities” In an obituary for Brooks, John W. Because New Criticism isolated the text and excluded historical and formaalist contexts, critics argued as early as that Brooks’ approach to criticism was flawed for ccritics overly narrow and for “disabl[ing] any and all attempts to relate literary study to political, social, and cultural issues and debates” In his later years, Brooks criticized the poststructuralists for inviting subjectivity and relativism into their analysis, asserting “each critic played with the text’s language unmindful of aesthetic relevance and formal design” Leitch Brooks’ two most influential works also came out of the success of the booklet: Brooks advocates close reading because, as he states in The Well Wrought Urn”by making the closest examination of what the poem says as a poem” qtd.

Cleanth Brooks – Wikipedia

While he admits that it is problematic to assume such a reference point, he sees it as the only viable option. Clexnth was also the preeminent critic of Southern literaturewriting classic texts on William Faulknerand co-founder of the influential journal The Southern Review Leitch with Robert Penn Warren.

Brooks was the central figure of New Criticism, a movement that emphasized structural and textual analysis—close reading—over historical or biographical analysis. The discussion was based on intensive readings and included considerations of a poem’s form, structure, meter, rhyme scheme, and imagery Singh For him, the crux of New Criticism is that literary study be “concerned primarily with the work itself” crtiics. The Fugitive Movement similarly influenced Brooks’ approach to criticism.