Skip to content
The Definition of Literature and Other Essays

The Definition of Literature and Other Essays


  • Date Published: July 1984
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521318471

£ 27.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Professor W. W. Robson is an eminent literary critic, best known for his work on nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature. His natural form of expression is the critical essay, and this book comprises a collection of essays on a variety of topics written in plain and straightforward language. What holds the collection together is a preoccupation with critical theory deployed in the first four essays. In 'The definition of literature', the title essay, the discussion turns on what kind of definition is to be recommended rather than on a particular formulation. 'On liberty of interpreting' examines the much-canvassed question of the relevance or otherwise to criticism of the author's intentions. In another essay it is argued that one widely favoured account of literary appraisal - that it deals with literature as literature - is in fact empty, while in an essay on the novel the author raises the question of how prose fiction can be thought of as being true to life. From these general questions Professor Robson moves on to consider particular works and authors in the light of the preceding discussion of critical principles. Essays on Treasure Island, Kidnapped and The Wind in the Willows are followed by surveys of Tennyson and Robert Frost, while the last four essays discuss literary questions by analysing what has been written about them by four distinguished poet critics: Hopkins, T. S. Eliot, I. A. Richards, and Yvor Winters. The overall aim of the volume is to take conversation about prose and poetry out of the limited and specialized literary or academic worlds in which it so often takes place and open it up to a broader world of reflective people, whoever and wherever they happen to be.

    • By the eminent literary critic, W. W. Robson
    • Discusses works by Tennyson, Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot, and contains essays on Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and The Wind in the Willows
    • Accessible essays, opening up the world of literary criticism to a broad audience
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Assured yet modest; tolerant, yet affirmative of his own values; capable of gentle but firm critical rebuke to perpetrators of illogicality and confusion; generous in seeking out what is of worth where it can be found, but impatient of silliness and pretentiousness; fresh and original in argument yet never freakish or exhibitionist; all this can be said of these essays and of the personality that can be discerned behind them.' David Daiches, The Times Higher Education Supplement

    'This splendid collection of essays …' The Times Higher Education Supplement

    ' … it's good to find the commonsense tradition still in such good heart.' The Listener

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: July 1984
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521318471
    • length: 284 pages
    • dimensions: 216 x 138 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.41kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Bibliographical note
    1. The definition of literature
    2. On liberty of interpreting
    3. Evaluative criticism, and criticism without evaluation
    4. The novel: a critical impasse?
    5. The sea cook: a study in the art of Robert Louis Stevenson
    6. On Kidnapped
    7. On The Wind in the Willows
    8. The present value of Tennyson
    9. Robert Frost
    10. Hopkins and literary criticism
    11. T. S. Eliot: a poet's notebook
    12. I. A. Richards
    13. Yvor Winters: counter-romantic.

  • Author

    W. W. Robson

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.