In the twentieth century an increasingly important role is played by critics, who will come to condition the work of writers and the orientations of the public to a previously unthinkable extent, and in some moments will establish itself as the most representative literary genre. Initially all literary critics move somewhat on the example of Croce. The Crocian inspiration of the criticism admits a very wide range of variations and seems to exclude any real conflict, allowing itself to be expressed on the one hand by a sort of literary annalism, in which E. Falqui and P. Pancrazi excel, in addition to E. Cecchi, and by the other from the historiographical vocation of some scholars (F. Flora, L. Russo, M. Sansone, N. Sapegno). In the interwar period and immediately after, Next to hermeticism there is a critical production that attempts to indulge the metaphysical anguish and the search for a new poetic language by the Italian and European writers of the twentieth century (Bo, O. Macrì, L. Anceschi, P. Bigongiari etc.), but also in this case, if the language of the critics changes and their cultural horizon broadens, their dependence on the Crucian frame of reference does not diminish. Alongside the aesthetic criticism of Borgese, Russo, A. Gargiulo, Pancrazi, A. Momigliano, M. Fubini, a new flowering of the historical school achieves truly remarkable and lasting results, albeit remaining in the specific field of philology, or moving into a a direction that seems to prelude to stylistic criticism (C. De Lollis, EG Parodi, D. Petrini) and then to the more penetrating stylistic criticism becomes the deputy seat. From the exemplary critical editions of M. Barbi we move on to the philological and erudite works of S. Battaglia, V. Branca, G. Petrocchi, G. Billanovich, L. Caretti, D. Isella, and to the history studies of the Italian language by B Migliorini, A. Schiaffini, G. Devoto, G. Folena, Italy Baldelli. A prominent action in this field is exercised by G. Contini, while various classical philologists or philosophers or linguists are positively affected by the thrust towards the taste and contemporary culture of Crocianism, remaining loyal to it for a long time, by M. Valgimigli to G. Pasquali, from E. Garin to A. Pagliaro and B. Terracini, remaining loyal to it for a long time; and also critics of other literatures such as F. Neri, PP Trompeo, M. Praz, G. Macchia.
According to TRANSPORTHINT.COM, a more formal than substantial fracture in the story of twentieth-century criticism is determined, after the Resistance, in the season of engagement of intellectuals, for the affirmation, strongly polemic towards Crocianism, Marxist ideology and in particular Gramsci’s thought. It is referred to by scholars such as Sapegno, G. Trombatore, G. Petronio, C. Muscetta, C. Salinari, who actually develop the same historicistic indications that also W. Binni and G. Getto refer to in the same years, not detaching themselves never entirely from Crocianism. Similarly conservative, in newspapers and periodicals, is the attitude of most of the militant criticism of the 1950s, while the work of S. Solmi and above all of G. Debenedetti stands out, also distancing itself from academic criticism.
A new season of literary criticism opens under the banner of sciences such as linguistics, psychology, and in particular psychoanalysis. The Italian followers, often still Orthodox Crocians, of E. Auerbach and L. Spitzer, such as the aforementioned Schiaffini, initially refer to linguistics, or, vice versa, both heterodox Marxist critics (F. Fortini), and novel philologists (A. Roncaglia). Subsequently, linguistics, taking up the indications of F. de Saussure, will give rise to the great structuralist and semiological vogue, destined to last from the beginning of the 1960s to the end of the 1980s. In Italy, structuralist criticism, soon converted to semiotics, is worthily represented especially by M. Corti, C. Segre and U. Eco. They refer to the sociological approach, in addition to scholars attentive to literary genres of consumption and paraliterature (V. Spinazzola), Marxist critics trained on the lesson of the Frankfurt School, and leading exponents of sociological criticism are Fortini, E. Sanguineti, A. Asor Rosa, R. Luperini. The extreme fruit of the great scientific illusion of criticism is represented by deconstructionism, once again imported (J. Derrida, P. de Man). As for militant criticism, it undergoes a drastic downsizing, due to the greater weight of the cultural industry, and can only count on a few personalities (P. Citati, C. Garboli, G. Pampaloni, E. Siciliano). Literary magazines disappear, while the periodicals of book information multiply.