Narrative and the Social Context of Criticism

  • George Szanto


How, then, is it possible, in clear and socially rooted fashion, to judge the value of a critical pronouncement, how can one possibly make a comprehensible critical judgement in the first place? We have come full circle, to the beginning of this examination; we have however returned more fully armed — with a sense of the value for some readers/viewers of popular entertainment, with a sense of the strengths and limits of specific canonized forms, and with an idea of the possibilities of certain critical stances. Now it becomes necessary to ask the final question — which was also the first: how is it that two readers, relatively similar perhaps in education, class, sex, economic level, nationality and so on, often make quite dissimilar judgements, both casual and critical, of the same narrative work? The answer lies not merely in the formal and thematic matter of the judged text, but also in the idiosyncratic nature of the judge. And to go a step further: not merely in the previous social stratification of a class of judges, but also in the short and long range needs of the individuals comprising such a class.


Social Phenomenon Audience Member Narrative Quality Exploratory Relationship Popular Entertainment 
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8. Narrative And The Social Context Of Criticism

  1. 1.
    Leo Lowenthal, Literature, Popular Culture and Society (Palo Alto: Pacific, 1968).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Helen Maclnnes, Agent in Place (Greenwich, Connecticut: Fawcett, 1976;Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Walter Van Tilburg Clark, The Ox-Bow Incident (Toronto: Signet; London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1960) p. 50.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (New York: Bantam, 1976; London: Corgi, 1977) p. 147.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1987

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  • George Szanto

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