Biographical Criticism

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  • Topic: Life
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  • Published : January 12, 2012
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General Definition of the Theory
If we think of a literary piece as a result of personal achievement and an accomplishment of the great mind, then, we may use biographical criticism as to how we may criticize such literary piece. Biographical Criticism not only determines the effect of the writer’s life on his work but also offers to help us understand both writer and his own work. Through understanding the life and influences of the author in writing, readers would thoroughly understand the author’s intended meaning to his work. The assumption of the biographical criticism is that the interpretation of the literary piece in understanding the context in which the work was written. This does not follow in retelling the life of an author but rather applies the information of the author’s life to his or her own work. Its focus still remains on criticizing a literary piece based on the biographical information as means of enhancing the work

The Theory Itself
According to I.A Richards from his book Practical Criticism (1929), he discovered in the course of his teaching in Cambridge that most of the students would not only read the words printed upon the page but something else that they expect to find; he discovered that most of the students when given a poem to read and knew who the author was, they would likely have time it and apply what they have learned from the author. But if they weren’t familiar with the author, they would just read it but would have a hard time knowing the meaning of the poem because they could not relate to what they have learned from the unknown author. In other words, their response was not directly to the poem but has to do something outside of the poem which reminded of them. Their judgements of such poems were equally unrelated to its merits. If they knew what the message poem is, they would likely read it not only once but twice. In contrary to that, if they could not determine the good side and bad, they would get constant against such carelessness.

The remedy that I.A Richards suggest is to read the poem or any literary piece regardless of what the name of the author is and who the author is. Concentrating simply and solely upon words themselves and keep on re-reading, every word, every change of the meter, or rhythm has made its full impact on the reader.

Ramon Fernandez also added that autobiography and novel should not be equated to each other in the sense that the novel is a very plastic style. It is said that, it won’t be easily to find out when novel is directly pertains to the author. It can’t be called a criticism, instead a narrative. Now, more than ever, writers are duped by subjective phantoms carefully cultivated by a body of literary criticism several generations behind philosophic criticism. He stated that when you criticize, make sure it’ll make a sense. Use the ideology of philosophy. The problem of personality is set in terms are represented by the images of art and the emotions of life, they are served by the convincing force of impression and appear more than the living ideas disclosing their inexactness. Likewise, biographical criticism would like to persuade people to view the work of author as their biography through putting their life on their literary works.

When I Consider How My Light Is Spent
By: John Milton
When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labor, light denied”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies “God doth not need
Either man’s work or His own gifts. His state
Is kingly: thousand at his bidding speed
and post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait”

Biographical criticism would insist on the importance of knowing something...
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