A writer friend recently told me about the time he had given his collection of essays to a writer of repute for a critique, but what he got back instead was a criticism. Not that he dislikes criticism. All writers take criticism positively – after all, it’s a sign of being recognized as a writer. The point here is of a critique and a criticism. Not many people recognize the difference between the two, or see the fine line that divides the two – not even some great writers, as was the case with my friend.
So, what exactly is the difference between the two?
Criticism, when applied to literature, is an informed evaluation or analysis of a piece of writing. It gives opinions and comments in a friendly manner. Although these comments may either be positive or negative, they are generally negative.
A critique is also an informed evaluation or analysis, and also gives opinions and comments, but with one fundamental difference. It is more objective in its approach than a criticism is. It critically examines the piece of writing, and gives arguments on its quality with reference to expectations and conventions of the genre. Rather than just finding faults like a criticism usually tends to do, a critique suggests changes without interfering with the style of the writer.
Like someone rightly described – “Critique is the fine art of criticism”.