New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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98                              PROBLEMS IN EVALUATION
the Bell Tolls, Dwight Macdonald remarks: "I think the novel is a failure for precisely the reason that many critics seem to like it most: because of its rejection of political consciousness." 8 Such occurrences, to be sure, may be partially explained away by the distinction discussed above between liking and approbation. Through the understanding, one may come to realize that a liking is partially motivated by personal eccentricities irrelevant to artistic appraisal. In that event, one will modify the appraisal. Even so, opposed approbations will remain, since they are founded upon basically different attitudes toward art which are seldom changed merely by increased understanding. In short* liking, understanding, and approbation are three different aspects of participation in a point of view.
Do we not find, moreover, that all famous critics have made sober evaluations which are astonishingly unorthodox? This subject could be properly examined only in a volume which might be interestingly filled with examples from the finest critical writings of all periods. For my purposes, a few typical instances will suffice. A characteristic eighteenth century comparative judgment between classical and medieval art is expressed by Addison in these terms: " 'Let any one reflect on the disposition of mind in which he finds himself at his first entrance into the Pantheon at Rome . . . and consider how little in proportion he is affected with the inside of a Gothic cathedral, though it be five times larger than the other/ the reason being 'the greatness of the manner in the one, and the meanness in the other.' " 9 For Horace Walpole, " 'All the qualities of a perfect Painter never met but in Raphael, Guido and Annibal Carracci.'"10 Sir Joshua Reynolds not
8.  The Partisan Review, January-February, 1941, p. 25. Cf. with the following remark in Ambroise Vollard's Renoir (New York, 1925), p. 47: "The very qualities in Manet that attracted Daumier, repelled Courbet."
9.  George Saintsbury, A History of English Criticism (New York, 1911), p. 177.
10.  John Steegmann, The Rule of Taste (London, 1936), p. 102.