Learning through Imitation
Literary criticism is a practice perhaps best learned through imitation. The German philosopher Walter Benjamin (1892—1940) reflected on the history of the concept of mimesis* (a word we will encounter again shortly in Aristotle’s Poetics):
Our gift for seeing similarity is nothing but a weak rudiment of the once powerful compulsion to become similar and also to behave mimetically. And the lost faculty of becoming similar extended far beyond the narrow perceptual world in which we are still capable of seeing similarities.