What does it mean to be a critic? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a true definition of criticism would be “the scholarly investigation of literary or historical texts to determine their origin or intended form” and yet this seems to be a too analytical approach to literary criticism, a genre which generally requires you to question, at the very least, your initial, emotional engagement to a text. In the extracts from Longinus and Wilde, there is evidence that the purpose of criticism is more than just an investigation, Wilde refers to it as a beauty of “new creation” and Longinus shows his admiration for what he calls “elevated language”. Thus, is criticism instead an art? Wilde is an aesthete and an ardent lover of ‘the…show more content… This notably includes criticisms of Homer, the author of Arimaspeia, Plato and Demosthenes. It is important to note here therefore, that because Longinus’s essay has a particular focus on language and the styles of writing as a whole, this is not a specific commentary on the role of criticism as Wildes’s essay is. Thus his argument is debatably not entirely comparable to Wilde’s, who staunchly argues in the favour of ‘Is criticism art?’ debate, whilst Longinus writing remains impartial to the debate.
The purpose of Wilde’s essay is more to challenge other critics’ conceptions about criticism, than a focus on language and writing style, although these do becomes aspects of his arguments. One particular critic’s view that he opposes is Matthew Arnold’s ‘the function of criticism’. In that essay, Arnold states that the purpose of criticism is “to see the object as in itself it really is.’ Wilde quotes this but staunchly disagrees, “this is a very serious error … the highest criticism deals with art not as expressive but as impressive purely”. Much how Longinus sees the purpose of sublime language is to “transport us with wonder”, Wilde claims the focus of criticism is to acknowledge how art inspires awe and in writing about it, one can create a new piece of artwork. Wilde believes that an emotional reaction to work is more important than