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Literary criticism is the comparison, analysis, interpretation, and/or evaluation of works of literature. Literary criticism is essentially an opinion, supported by evidence, relating to theme, style, setting or historical or political context.
The Western critical tradition began with Plato’s Republic (4th century BCE). A generation later, Aristotle, in his Poetics, developed a set of principles of composition that had a lasting influence. European criticism since the Renaissance has primarily focused on the moral worth of literature and the nature of its relationship to reality. The volume of literary criticism increased greatly in the 20th century, and its later years saw a radical reappraisal of traditional critical modes and the development of a multiplicity of critical factions.
Plato, Aristotle, Sir Philip Sidney, John Dryden, Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, William Wordsworth, Matthew Arnold, etc.
Types of literary criticism may be based on a variety of critical approaches or movements, e.g. archetypal criticism, cultural criticism, feminist criticism, psychoanalytic criticism, Marxist Criticism, New Criticism (formalism/structuralism), New Historicism, post-structuralism, and reader-response criticism.