When writing critical literature, scholars typically argue about a work’s quality or its meaning. Critics who defend or attack the artistic merit of a particular work are participating in critical valuation while those who try to decipher a work’s meaning are engaging in critical interpretation. Both aspects of criticism have implications that extend far beyond the confines of universities and classrooms. The critical reception of a play can determine whether or not it continues to be produced while the critical interpretation of a play can shape how it is staged. This is certainly true of Volpone, and it is my hope that the connection between the critical history detailed in this chapter and the performance history discussed earlier in the book will be readily apparent.
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