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00080--What, according to Matthew Arnold, are the basic functions of a literary critic?

            Matthew Arnold, himself a great critic, lays heavy responsibilities upon a literary critic.  He says that a critic is basically a teacher and he has a mission to fulfill, holding that literature is a 'criticism of life'.  The first duty of the critic, therefore, is to make "a disinterested endeavour to learn and propagate the best that is known and thought in the world, and thus to establish a current of fresh and true ideas."  This is the keynote of the task of a critic.  Arnold lays emphasis upon the word 'disinterested.'  The critic must be absolutely impartial without any prejudice or bias against or in favour of any particular author or literary school.  He must "see things as they really are."  The next function of the critic is to make the best ideas prevail."  In this respect the critic is a missionary.  Thereafter his next function is to prepare an atmosphere favourable for the production of creative literature.  He must promote "a current of ideas in the highest degree animating and nourishing to the creative power."  In his 'Culture and Anarchy' he says that the critic as a man of culture should be concerned with all aspects of living.  In brief, the function of the critic in the broadest sense of the term is to promote culture..... to promote that part of culture which depends upon knowledge of letters.  He is motivated by the 'moral and social passion for doing good."

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