Theory of Criticism
From Plato to the Present

By Raman Selden
Sep 1988
Pearson Education / Longman
ISBN: 0582003288
576 pages
$69.50 Paper original

This book is divided into five parts and covers: representation; subjectivity; form, structure and system; history and society; morality, class and ideology. Each part contains several thematic sections in which extracts from different writers and periods are juxtaposed.

The study of literary theory has tended to concentrate on very recent developments. This volume, however, establishes both a sense of the continuities from Plato to the present day as well as the discontinuities. These are presented through comparisons and contrasts across the entire field of critical history.


Part 1 - Representation
1. Imaginative Representation.
2. Mimesis and Realism.
3. Nature and Truth.
4. Language and Representation.

Part II - Subjectivity
1. Wit Judgment, Fancy and Imagination.
2. Genius, Nature vs Art.
3. Emotive Theories.
4 Subjective criticism and the reader's response.
5. Unconscious Processes.

Part III - Form, System and Structure
1. The Aesthetic Dimension.
2. Unity and Literariness.
3. Ambiguity and Polysemy.
4. Impersonality and the 'death' of the author.
5. Rhetoric - Style and point of view.
6. Structure and system.
7. Structure and Indeterminacy.

Part IV - History and Society
1. Tradition and Intertextuality.
2. History.
3. Literature and 'life'.
4 Class and Gender.



"If you seek a reader for the history of ideas...then Professor Selden's book is perfect."

Modern Language Review

" impressive feat of scholarship."

Times Literary Supplement

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