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The first task is to get the material together The material comes in two kinds primary and secondary sources Primary sources in this case are literary texts the actual material that you work on Secondary sources are works of criticism Here is your Second Important Message ii It is always better to read an original text and refer to it than to read and refer to a critic The more literary texts you read and can refer to the better You cant possibly read too many Remember the key to your essay is the number and quality of your ideas about literary texts If you casually refer from at least an apparent position of familiarity to some obscure literary text you will win the admiration of your marker If you refer to a critic particularly an obscure one the chances are his or her eye will glaze over There are exceptions to this rule which I will mention later but the basic principle is extremely important original texts are better than critics and you cant know too many Whereas it is possible to get a first class degree and never to have read any critics at all 31 What are critics for The short answer to be disagreed with A longer answer reading critics can give you an idea of what the state of critical opinion is about a literary text to save you re-inventing the wheel and coming up with some brilliant original perception that William Empson thought of sixty years ago Reading critics means that you can start at the coal face rather than have to dig your own mine Secondly they can stimulate your ideas But the thing to remember is only your ideas obtain merit Therefore never ever quote a critic just to agree with him or her Always under all circumstances quote a critic in the following form Leavis says x but I disagree as
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