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date: 25 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

‘Critique’ (or, alternatively, ‘criticism’, for the German term Kritik) is a universal power of human enquiry, an ingredient in some measure within every historical tradition. Over an extended moment in Western culture, however, one bridging the Enlightenment and Romanticism, critique arose with an extraordinary force that disrupted, transformed, and redirected the preceding traditions, including those of English literature. Critique, in this world-transforming appearance, had its genesis in German Protestantism for contingent historical reasons, but its eschatological consequences were universal. All subsequent thinking, including that of English literature, was gradually taken into the all-pervasive influence of the new critical world-view. This article describes the chief forms of critique before briefly outlining some major points of impact on English literature.

Keywords: Kritik, human enquiry, critique, Enlightenment and Romanticism, English literature, German Protestantism

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