COMPREHENSION AND CRITICAL READING

Notes from an old college handout, 1960

By Abbé Ernest Dimnet [1866-1954]: “Dimnet invites the reader into a state of honesty, where he [or her] evaluates himself [or herself] as a thoughtful human being.” (Wikipedia)

“Whatever we read, we must first comprehend and, when we have comprehended, criticize.”

“Comprehension is the first and essential step in reading.”

“There is an abyss between people who want [literature] to be as accessible as the morning paper and people in possession of, or in search of, culture.”

“Criticizing is only another aspect of the effort to comprehend. The word in its etymology means ‘to judge,’ and, in fact, we think of a critic as a competent, not carping, judge.”

“Teachers should attach the greatest value to the school exercise called literary analysis.”

A student must acquire the habit…not to receive anything as true or beautiful, but to consider everything as a problem.”

“We should be given the habit of critical attention so that our first contact with anything worth the effort will give us as keen an impression as we are capable.”

“Comprehension is criticism, and criticism or judgment is a mere synonym for THOUGHT.”

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2 comments
  1. Good thoughts. I guess I’ll have to be more critical in thinking about them.

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