Ivor Armstrong Richards

United Kingdom
United Kingdom
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I. A. Richards in the Alps c. 1930
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Ivor Armstrong Richards was an influential English literary critic and rhetorician. Richards was born in Sandbach. He was educated at Clifton College and Magdalene College, Cambridge, where his intellectual talents were developed by the scholar Charles Hicksonn 'Cabby' Spence. He began his career without formal training in literature; he studied philosophy (the "moral sciences") at Cambridge University, from which derived his assertions that, in the 20th century, literary study cannot and should not be undertaken as a specialisation, in and of itself, but studied alongside a cognate field, such as philosophy, psyhology or rhetoric. His early teaching appointments were as adjunct faculty: at Cambridge University, Magdalene College would not pay a salary for Richards to teach the new, and untested, academic field of English literature. Instead, like an old-style instructor, he collected weekly tuition directly from the students, as they entered the classroom.

In 1926, Richards married Dorothy Pilley whom he had met on a mountain climbing holiday in Wales.

In the 1929–30 biennium, as a visiting professor, Richards taught Basic English and Poetry at Tsinghua University, Beijing. In the 1936–38 triennium, Richards was the director of the Orthological Institute of China. He died in Cambridge.

In The Principles of Literary Criticism, Richards discusses the subjects of form, value, rhuthm, coenesthesia (an awareness of inhabiting one's body, caused by stimuli from various organs), literary infectiousness, allusiveness, divergent readings, and belief. He starts from the premise that "A book is a machine to think with, but it need not, therefore, usurp the functions either of the bellows or the locomotive."

To Richards, literary criticism was impressionistic, too abstract to be readily grasped and understood, by most readers; and he proposed that literary criticism could be precise in communicating meanings, by way of denotation and connotation. To establish critical precision, Richards examined the psyhological processes of writing and of the reading of poetry. That in reading poetry and making sense of it "in the degree in which we can order ourselves, we need nothing more"; the reader need not believe the poetry, because the literary importance of poetry is in provoking emotions in the reader.

Ivor`s work contributed to the foundations of the New Criticism, a formalist movement in literary theory which emphasized the close reading of a literary text, especially poetry, in an effort to discover how a work of literature functions as a self-contained and self-referential aesthetic object.



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Ivor Armstrong Richards
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Alisa Nikolaevna Ammosova