chapter  24
9 Pages

Practical Criticism: A Reply to Mr Empson 1930

WithJohn Sparrow

Mr Empson's justification of the printing of the 'protocols' begins with a series of admissions. The difference between them is the difference between intelligent criticism and unintelligent reaction. Mr Empson attacks John Sparrow's criticism of Mr I. A. Richards' particular recipe for being 'sincere'. The protocols, he admits, 'give no pleasure to the appreciative critic, who needs to protect a private sensibility'; he himself 'found them embarrassing'. Mr Empson takes exception to his saying that Mr Richards will soon be reading poems to schoolboys, infants, idiots, and animals, and faithfully recording their reactions. Mr Richards and his followers are conducting a campaign against the intelligence; victims of yet another form of inverted intellectual snobbery. On the other hand Mr Humbert Wolfe spends a great deal of his time in writing for the poetical public, and it is when he does this that he is least a poet.