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Q No1:
Discuss the methods of extracting meanings out of a creative text as described by Belsey in her Critical Practice.

How would you proceed in critical study, analysis or evaluation of a piece of literature?

History of creative art shows the fact that art and criticism run side by side. Sometime art take place of criticism and sometimes criticism takes place of art. History of criticism is as deep as arts of itself. Criticism has been a branch of literature in the most developing periods of human history. Like other arts of the world, it also involves so many theories and sometimes so many origins. Therefore, history of criticism has become itself a subject. So many critics have developed a variety of theories regarding he evaluation of a piece of literature. Katherine Belsey in her work Critical Practice has put forward following two methods for extracting meanings and evaluation of a given piece of text.

Analytical Criticism:
This is the most common category of criticism. It may be further divided into other branches but the main object of all these modes is to analysis a given piece of literature. The basic concept of analytical criticism is the image or concept of reader in the mind of writer. The writer, while writing a text, always keeps in his mind the personality of the person who is supposed to read this text in future. Therefore, the first critic is the writer himself. He leaves some points unexplained or some others over-explained because he is bearing the image of the reader in his mind before hand. Now when that type of text goes in the hand of that supposed reader, the criticism takes its birth ultimately or without conscious efforts. Here, we must also be sure of some of other images in the mind of a writer while creating the text. For example, the image of society, the facts he is going to present and the idea or theme of change he supposed to bring in the social behaviour of the reader. All these images together give a kind of realism to that text of a writer. In this way, to analyze the text means to see it in the context of the psychology of reader and writer, and in the perspective of social norms.


In this type of criticism the information about writers personal life, his activities and the theme presented in his other books help a common reader to develop some analytical approach about that given piece of text. We do not feel any need to pay any attention to the material or facts provided in the words or structure of the text. Our understanding of the text is something like preexisting the creation of text. The ideas presented in the text are mostly the ideas we have come across in the practical life in some practical social surroundings. Common sense plays an important role in this type of criticism as in it based on facts given in the text and experiences undergone in the social circumstances. In this type of criticism two types of forces govern; the force of human nature which we can find in nearly all human beings and the forces of social circumstances given particularly to the individual of that text. The bases and the reasons of an analytical approach therefore, is the function of classical realism and common sense in the reading of a literary text. It needs to be explained that if the common sense helps creating the classic realism or the classic realism help developing the common sense.

Evaluating Criticism:
On the other hand, evaluating criticism is totally base on the material and facts provided in the text. Followers of this method do not pay any attention to the concept or image of reader of personal life or social circumstances of the writer. They try to find whatever there is of any importance out of the study of the text only. In their view text itself carries all the essential material of understanding or intelligibility. In their view, role of common sense and realism is of no importance. For example, in Belseys views common sense itself is a development or generated function of the outer world. It has no particular and specified roots. So the way of modern critics is based on the structure and language of the text. They do not care about the psychology of the writer or his social surroundings. According to them, possibility of the meanings greatly lies in the given text. In this way, the problem of critic is not to find the meanings or the intelligibility in the text. He aims at discovering the contribution of unconscious in the process of creation. In his views, the text is written in the process of creation and that there lie some gaps and silences in the words and sentences. In this way, the function of a critic is to find out those gaps and lapses. This is termed as construction of a text, a construction that results in the deconstruction of already written intelligible text. This is the mode of evaluating criticism. Evaluation, there, is not the evaluation of the psychology of writer but the evaluation of the evaluation of the given facts of the text. Therefore, for the followers of this type of criticism meanings do not lie out of the text in any form. Whatever intelligible points are that lie in the text. There is no possibility of inter-intelligibility in the writer


and the reader or the critic and the prevailing social circumstances. Perhaps, that is why they say this type of criticism is a kind of expressive realism, a realism that is in fact not realism but that seems realism. In this way, expressive realist text is the text that is not realistic by that is expressed in realistic way. In other words, the followers of this type of critical practice do not find any relation in the text and the existing facts in the society. In their view, both these things are quite different from each other. To conclude, we may say that both these critical approaches have their own positive and negative points. But, followers of both methods have strong views about their approaches.

Q No2:
In what category would you place Belseys views, theoretical or practical criticism?

What are the major drawbacks in Catherine Belesys Critical Practice? Elaborate your answer with respect to the views discussed in the book. Answer:
As far as reading of Critical Practice is concerned, it takes us nowhere. Nearly in all chapters from the beginning till the end we find no concluding remarks or any type of final judgment. This is perhaps Belseys major drawback in her book. She discusses the theories and views of so many critics but nowhere gives her personal judgment regardless of the need explanation in the views discussed under her topics. It means the book contain theories and practices already in vogue. She may have the conclusions already drawn in readers minds. However, her way of discussing the topics can both be termed as theoretical and practical. She does not remain particular to any mood of expression. The topics discussed in the book range from the most ancient to the most modern. He has not taken only way of expression but also the role of language in conveying that way of expression. In the same way, she has not only discussed the creative process but also the process taking place in the mind of a reader. In the process of creation, she takes into account the social circumstance along with psychological thinking or unconscious working of writers mind while writing a text. Naturally, in this way, she must have taken some views and theories of the writers belonging psychology, sociology, economics and ethics. Now, it is natural that whenever a person tries to discuss something, he must possess some views of his own. Belsey, though adopts a careful approach in her expression of views, yet she leaves some clues that indicate that she has expressed her personal arguments in between the lines.


Theoretical Views:
Undertaking the task of critical practice, Belsey takes references out of the works of Althusser, Barthes, Saussure and others. She discusses their views about the language and the process of creation and gives her remarks as output of her reading of these writers. Her remarks are very much theoretical in nature and are present nearly in all the discussion of theories and views. We may take these remarks as practical in nature but we cannot deny their value as theoretical remarks. In this way the theoretical remarks in Belsey, in a sense are, also practical. She has not succeeded in differentiating between these types of remarks.

Practical Views:
On the other hand, the way of analyzing the text keeping in mind the limits or hints provided by the text itself, regardless of the intentions of the writer and the social circumstances, is called practical criticism. Though, Belsey has discussed both theoretical and practical attitudes, yet it she has taken more help of practical attitude of criticism. Her style of expression is more practical than theoretical. The function of practical criticism in not only to provide the theories and views in practical form but also the analysis of the text with reference to the facts and figures provided in the text. Throughout the Critical Practice she has tried to maintain both these levels of discussion or understanding. Especially, the last two chapters of the book are purely based on these levels.

In the end it can be said that despite the difficulties that lies in her expression of views, yet Belsey has succeeded in pointing out the aptness and suitability of practical criticism or critical practice of a modern critic. It is clear that Belsey has no inclination to any particular mode of criticism. Her way of criticism can be taken both theoretical and practical.

Q No3:
What according to Belsey is difference between common sense and critical theory?

How does Catherine Belsey discuss the authority of common sense with respect to de Saussures view of linguistic theory?



Catherine Belsey, in her effort to explain the critical practice of modern critics, first of all tries to explain the common sense view of literature. She tries to suggest the ultimate function of common sense in the general understanding of some literary work. Common sense in her view, is kind of natural attitude towards some piece of art prevailing nearly all the souls of literary and literature loving persons. We may call it a kind of literary behaviour, developed already through considerable amount of reading. Belsey says this attitude or behaviour is developed in search of expressive realism. The search of realism is quite inherent in human beings. When they read some text, they are inclined to accept it true. They think it about life or society in which they or the writer are living. They take it as a real representation, seen through some personal experience. They depend on experience as the only authenticity of some work. This is what we call a common sense view of literature. When Belsey has explained common sense as a natural understanding born out of text, she starts to explain nature of common sense with respect to structuralism. The natural and obvious of some text is not given but mostly produced out of the common experiences of public and a writer. In this case, the authority of text is not the final authority. The real remains no more real when a writer can express it other words. It is mere likeness of real, not real itself. The working of common sense in this way turn astray and reader my feel some fiction a reality. The function of common sense is then to make understandable the facts provided in the text. This understandability of text lies in its being real and obvious. Here, keeping in mind that the common sense varies from person to person and profession to profession. We can say that the common sense of a literary person must be different from the common sense of a scientist and a politician. What play an important role in the development of common sense are the facts already given in the history of that profession. The common sense of literary person either writer or reader developed under the information provided in the books already written by other writers or read by other readers. Therefore, we can say that the obvious and real presented in literature may not seem obvious and real to a scientist or a businessman, because the development of their common sense has never been under the facts described under the facts described in books but the facts they have come to know through their communication to the other people of their profession.