Fine taste among the generality of men of letters can exist only while it is still uncorrupted.
…….– Giacomo Leopardi, Zibaldone
In a dismal and dismissal tone that monarch of literary taste T.S. Eliot once suggested that in a “formless age there is very little hope for the minor [author] to do anything worth doing” (I changed “poet” to “author).1 He would also speak of the need of great criticism, of the development of sensibility and a true sense of literary taste or critical awareness. He would castigate those like Walter Pater as non-critics, as aesthetes of literature – by which he meant mere appreciators who through their “arid cleverness build theoretical scaffolds upon one’s own perceptions,” a formless waste and accumulation of a mass of unstructured nonsense. While for him the “really appreciative mind” allows perceptions to form themselves as a structure, and criticism is the “statement in…
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