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Sara

I think "we and "reader" are both aspects of *everyman* and that the person
assuming that the reader does not know certain historical facts is the
critic.

I also have trouble with the significance of what he is writing.

Eliot would appear to be denying the critic any role beyond  stating
evaluative remarks and perhaps providing a historical  setting.  He is
denying that it is a critic's role to establish an authoritative reading or
interpretation.  He is not denying the reader such an interpretation.  Every
reader when he/she reads a work interprets that work within the reader's own
context.  The critic is free to provide his/her own reading but it should be
understood that this is but one reader's interpretation.

A literary theorist is free to construct general theories of how literature
should be read but should not, in the role of "critic", provide specific
interpretation of a specific work.  A reader can utilize a theorist's
general statements about literature to better understand a specific work and
can recite that understanding to others but is not performing a "critic's"
role when he/she does so.  That reader is only providing *that* reader's
understanding.

The idea approaches Pound's concept of "Imagism".  Because the "meaning" of
an Imagist/Vorticist's work is the result of the triggering of a specific
reader's "complex" by an artist's supplied Image, every realization of art
is specific, within cultural limits,  to a reader.  There is nothing to
generally "interpret" within a work of art.  All that can be done is to fill
in a reader's blanks of specific understanding and issue a value of the
work's worth.  Any reader is still free to write about the results of the
work of art as it was processed by that reader's "complex" and provide
his/her understanding but it is not a critic's role to do so.

In "Carta Da Vista" (A Visiting Card), on page 318 of "Selected Prose:
1909-1965",  Pound has a little to say about critics, writers and readers
which may be of interest to you.  Since you can enjoy the original it may be
of more value than John Drummond's translation of the Italian which is in
"Selected Prose" :>)

Rick Seddon
McIntosh, NM