Criticism and creation; both are words that are commonly associated with literature and writing. The question, though, is can both exist in one piece of literature, or do you give up one for the other? I say that a piece of writing can be both a work of creation and a work of criticism. Gloria Anzaldua's "How to Tame a Wild Tongue" illustrates this fact. However, not everyone agrees that a piece of writing can be both creation and criticism. .
T.S. Eliot seems to believe that both creation and criticism cannot co-exist in the same piece of writing. He writes, "I have assumed as axiomatic that a creation, a work of art, is autotelic; and that criticism, by definition, is about something other than itself. Hence you cannot fuse creation with criticism." Eliot is saying that a piece of writing cannot be both, because criticism is about something other than itself. That is fine for him to think, but on the same page, before the passage above, he seems to contradict himself. Eliot speaks of Matthew Arnold distinguishing too much between creation and criticism. He writes, "He overlooks the capital importance of criticism in the work of creation itself." This statement seems to be the complete opposite view of the passage I quoted above. How can the same person have two different views of creation and criticism? It left me very confused on Eliot's overall view of the subject creation vs. criticism. The only reason I could come up with for Eliot seemingly contradicting himself is that he means that there could be criticism in the actual process of writing and creating the piece, but that the piece of writing itself could not exist as both criticism and creation. Eliot writes, "Probably, indeed the larger part of the labour of an author in composing his work is critical labour; the labour of sifting, combining, constructing, expunging, correcting, texting: this frightful toil is as much critical as creative.