I have also refrained from describing the sort of reading I approve as "critical reading". The phrase, if not elliptically used, seems to me deeply misleading. I said in an earlier chapter that we can jduge any sentence or even word only by the work it does or fails to do. The effect must precede the judgement on the effect. The same is true of a whole work. Ideally, we must receive it first and then evaluate it. Otherwise, we have nothing to evaluate. ....But here's the part which particularly seemed to connect with something I've written about before: how a schooly approach to literature studies can actually impede a child's approach to literature:
...In later life, we can hardly help evaluating as we go along; it has become a habit. We thus fail of that inner silence, that emptying out of ourselves, by which we ought to make room for the total reception of the work. ...
"All this activity impedes reception.
For this reason I am very doubtful whether criticism is a proper exercise for boys and girls. A clever schoolboy's reaction to his reading is most naturally expressed by parody or imitation. The necessary condition of all good reading is 'to get ourselves out of the way'; we do not help the young to do this by forcing them to keep on expressing opinions."