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02/20/2017 Interview > Faculty Important News

Title

Insight from a Literature Critic

Professor Yoo Sung-ho (Department of Korean Language and Literature)

전채윤

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Contents
There's a saying that you see as much as you know. From this logic, it could be deduced that when reading a book, one can understand only as much as one has learned. Doubtlessly, in order to be an expert of a field, one manifestly needs extensive reading and the acquirement of boundless knowledge. On this, Professor Yoo Sung-ho (Department of Korean Language and Literature) shared his insight and understanding as a literature critic.
 

Definition of a literature critic


“Criticizing is a cordial cooperation between the literary work and the critic,” remarked Yoo. This is how he usually defines literary criticism. It is the act of pinpointing appreciable and admirable facets of the work, sometimes including inevitable reproaches.

Yoo clarified that criticizing and condemning each possess distinct characteristics, thereby separating them in their essence. What lies at the center of criticism is the accurate interpretation of the literature, accompanied by the competence in constructing one’s own sentences. Finding the true values of a literary work and animating it into one's own words of criticism for others to read and relate to, is what critics do, as Yoo explained.

Moreover, Yoo thinks self-consciousness is also important when it comes to reviewing a literary piece. Asking oneself the reason for analyzing a piece of work and deliberating what contributions the criticism could give to the world is attributable to a distinguished critic. Yoo believes reading with the sole objective to write could never widen a critic’s analytical perspective. Reading should be something that's done consistently, without intention.
 
“I was deeply touched by a book and tried to express that feeling with words. That is how I came to submerge myself in reading and literature analysis.”


Formula for criticism

“It's often next to impossible to distinguish whether one idea comes from one’s value or taste,” said Yoo. Taste acts as the chief driving force in establishing one’s value. When analyzing a literary text, one’s taste inevitably functions as the judge, with existing values and philosophy added after it. Although taste is a personal and subjective factor, it is indispensable for critics, for every critic has their own style and preference that ultimately define their individuality.

A critic should possess knowledge of the text, author, and general trend of the literary field. Knowing the author’s style such as writing techniques, philosophy, and taste will help the critic interpret the written work better. Literature tends to contain more than what is just written superficially in words, therefore necessitating critics to apprehend the core message beyond the visible text.

The most important skill a critic should poseess, Yoo hinted, is the ability to express one’s interpretation in fluency. “No matter how outstanding your comprehension and analyses are, mediocre wordings could ruin your criticism. The power of words cannot be ignored,” commented Yoo.

On top of everything, when reviewing a literary work, critics often feel tempted to stand on the same platform as the authors, drinking in only the perspective of the original writer. This enables critics to break the boundary of merely interpreting texts, letting them be “authors” themselves and write sentences of idiosyncrasy that exquisitely convey their own analysis.
 
“Extensive reading begets great critics.”
 
Above are two critism books that Yoo wrote.
(Photos courtesy of Ridibooks and Yes24 respectively)



Jeon Chae-yun        chaeyun111@hanyang.ac.kr
Photos by Moon Hana
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