Because critics often try to be lawgivers, declaring which works deserve respect and presuming to say what they are “really” about, criticism is a perennial target of resentment.Misguided or malicious critics can discourage an author who has been feeling his way toward a new mode that offends received taste.Without sensing the presence of such a public, an author may either prostitute his talent or squander it in sterile acts of defiance.
For another particular aspect of literary criticism, The functions of literary criticism vary widely, ranging from the reviewing of books as they are published to systematic theoretical discussion.
Though reviews may sometimes determine whether a given book will be widely sold, many works succeed commercially despite negative reviews, and many classic works, including Herman Melville’s (1851), have acquired appreciative publics long after being unfavourably reviewed and at first neglected.
Criticism can antagonize authors even when it performs its function well.
Authors who regard literature as needing no advocates or investigators are less than grateful when told that their works possess unintended meaning or are imitative or incomplete.
What such authors may tend to forget is that their works, once published, belong to them only in a legal sense.
The true owner of their works is the public, which will appropriate them for its own concerns regardless of the critic.
In Dialectical materialism does not necessarily turn the critic into a mere guardian of party doctrine, but it does forbid him to treat literature as a cause in itself, apart from the working class’s needs as interpreted by the party.
Where this utilitarian view prevails, the function of criticism is taken to be continuous with that of the state itself, namely, furtherance of the social revolution.
The critic’s main obligation is not to his texts but rather to the masses of people whose consciousness must be advanced in the designated direction.
In periods of severe orthodoxy, the practice of literary criticism has not always been distinguishable from that of censorship.