THE VALUE OF CRITICISM.

EDITORS DAILY CRIMSON. - I should like to take exception to a few of the statements made in the protest against the amount of critical work required of the sophomore class, recently published in your columns. In the first place, to pass by the fact that a critical theme, requiring in its preparation far more time than the descriptive one so strongly advocated, is therefore less desirable to some students, I think that the writer's conception of the office of criticism is utterly erroneous. Critical ability is not merely the ability to "tear down an artistic piece of work;" it is the ability to see what is good and true and lasting in it. Undoubtedly, fault-finding will to some extent attend this process, but the first and best function of criticism is to recognize merits not defects. It surely cannot be denied that the selective power developed by practice in criticism is of the highest value in the subsequent development of the creative power: a writer who cannot distinguish the good from the bad in other writers, will scarcely succeed in producing good work alone in his own literary efforts. Experience is a good teacher, I admit, but observation is of no less value in literary work.

In regard to the amount of critical work required, I do not consider it at all excessive. Two only of the twelve themes required are criticisms, and surely one sixth of the allotted work is by no means too much to spend in this important practice. As to the criticisms of the themes of fellow students, the work required upon each of them is that of perhaps half an hour, or at any rate so trifling as to scarcely be worthy of a second thought.

'88.