[Milton-L] finding the bad in what you find good

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Sat Apr 16 09:00:26 EDT 2016


When the discussion turns to either "X is good" or "X is bad" I tend to
return in my memory to the "Polemical Introduction" of Northrop Frye's
_Anatomy of Criticism_. "Evaluation" is simply not a very interesting
critical mode. Moreover, no one ever bothers to prove that some piece of
newspaper verse is "bad"; silence is the mode for negative criticism. Check
out Twain's "Sweet Singer of Michigan"; do you really want to spend time
"proving" that she was as bad as Twain believed she was? "Who breaks a
butterfly upon a wheel?"

Moreover,  attempts at negative evaluation of a text raise a prior question:
What difference does it makes if someone sits delighting in a poem that
someone else thinks is bad? Did "It takes a heap o' learning" cause death
and destruction?

Carrol



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