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The function of criticism as viewed by Northrop Frye As Northrop Frye states in his article The function of criticism at the

present time, he attempts to make clear what the function of criticism is. In the first place, he argues that criticism mediates between the artist and his public. As for him: Criticism exists because it can talk, and all arts are dumb. He does not neglect the possibility of having authors analyzing and interpreting their own pieces of work for poets and writers in general may as well have critical abilities. Also, Frye makes a distinction between two types of critics: (a) one who faces the public (the one we would call the critical reader), and (b) the one who is involved in the literary work; that is, the author himself. The primordial task of a critic is then to evaluate the state of literature as it is presented, and exemplify how literature is to be absorbed into a particular society. It is also stated that both (the critic proper and the critical reader) are supposed (though not all the time) to fulfill different functions buy approaching different aspects of the same text simultaneously. In order to do so, the critics first step to take is reading literature in order to shape the principles he or she is going to use according to the knowledge of the field of expertise of the critic. The ideal step to take would be to, somehow, systematize the process of criticism to make it scientific by integrating, not only religion and philosophy, but other sciences as well. What is taken as criticism is basically the work of critical readers with several and different critical attitudes and standpoints depending on the relevant facts collected by the critic. Still, the work of a critic is not a systematic process following the scientific method because the literary text is not viewed as phenomena that can

be explained and / or analyzed taking into consideration a theoretical or conceptual framework which can only be used by criticism. So, if research and criticism are not combined in order to make more valid analyses, critical readers and critical authors will be excluded from making meaningful contributions in terms of culture. Therefore, according to Frye, it is high time for criticism to start defining a conceptual framework within which the scientific method can be used; it will also be well timed for critics to get into a multidisciplinary field in which they can relate to subjects such as biography, history, philosophy, and language. After making these aspects clear, what Frye next describes are the steps of criticism. In the first place, the critic should try to identify the category of literature in which the books are located before proceeding to examine aspects such as the authors life, the historical context, his language and his thought. Then, it is important to make a distinction between genres such as prose or poetry in order to know what theory is more likely to be used comprehensively to analyze the text. Therefore, the critic will be able to know whether the text deals with elements that are part of his/her area of expertise or if, on the contrary, deals with concepts that should be researched in detail by the critic before analyzing properly. The final step is to identify different levels of meaning (if there are, of course) in the literary text so as to define them and classify them. One of the main problems that criticism faces at the present time, according to the author, is that it is not well enough organized so as to clearly understand what factors to take into account when it comes to critical judgement. Such judgement may come whether from the critical reader or from the spokesman of a critical attitude. Besides, another problem involves determining the category of literature

which should start by making a distinction between two groups: (a) a complex verbal facts (a verbal form which is itself), and (b) a complex of verbal symbols (a verbal form which is related to something else). To conclude, the author shows his insights on the state of literature in relation to criticism. As for the current trends of criticism, Frye states that literature is, and will be, a pile of creative efforts as long as there is a lack of organization established by criticism. It still needs to develop a theory of literature which will see this pile of efforts with a verbal universe. The concept of culture, as stated by Arnold Matthew, was precisely an integration and consolidation of literature and the verbal universe by using criticism as a main means of connection. The process of this consolidation is, according to Frye, the main function of criticism at the present time. Alexis Maizo