The Function of Criticism, in Brief

I just came across this quotation in my notebook and was struck, again, by how well it suits my own sense of the central purpose, or best possible outcome, of criticism:

The goal is not to pack into our traveling bag only the best that has been thought and said but to find forms of critical talk that will improve the range or depth or precision of our appreciations.

This formulation seems to me at once stringent and flexible. (It’s from Wayne Booth’s The Company We Keep.)

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