Elements of Criticism  

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"When a nation emerging out of barbarity begins to think of the fine arts, the beauties of language cannot long lie concealed ; and when discovered, they are generally, by the force of novelty, carried beyond all bounds of moderation. Thus, in the early poems of every nation, we find metaphors and similes founded on flight and distant resemblances, which, losing their grace with their novelty, wear gradually out of repute; and now, by the improvement of taste, no metaphor nor simile is admitted into any polite composition but of the most striking kind."

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Elements of Criticism (1762) is a book by Henry Home, Lord Kames.

It made a major contribution to the study of literature and became the standard textbook on rhetoric and style.

It describes the aim of the belles-lettres movement as the want to "discover a foundation for reasoning upon the taste of an individual" and "design a science of rational criticism."


A class in which Fitz Hugh Ludlow always got the highest marks was one taught by famed Union College president Eliphalet Nott based on Lord Kames’ seminal 1762 literary work, Elements of Criticism – although it essentially became a course on Nott's own philosophy.

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