In his review of Empson's Seven Types of Ambiguity, published in The Criterion in 1931, James Smith first proposed the criticism that Empson used the termambiguous too loosely. The term ambiguous can be defined as referring to anything that has "several possible meanings or interpretations"; however, ambiguous is also used as a linguistics term to refer to any grammatical construction that has "two or more" possible meanings (Random House Dictionary). Hence, Smith found ambiguity in Empson's use of ambiguous do to the fact that anything ambiguous can have a range of two or more possible meanings, while Empson only used ambiguous to refer to multiple possible meanings. Empson responded to Smith's criticism and others like it in the preface he added to the second edition of Seven Types of Ambiguity. Empson responded by arguing he did not see things like puns as ambiguous simply because puns "say two things at once" (p. x). On the contrary, he considers saying two, and only two, things at once a "concise" way of using language rather than an ambiguous way of using language. Instead, Empson argues thatambiguity occurs wen one can puzzle over an author's meaning, seeing multiple possible alternative views, "without sheer misreading" (p. x). Empson's book has also be criticized for organization, and Empson did confess that many of his examples did overlap.
However, despite criticisms of Empson's usage of the term ambiguous and organization, Empson's book is praised as revealing meanings in poetry previously overlooked. As John Gross, a book reviewer for The New York Times phrased it, Empson "had the gift of being able to show you qualities in a work you would never have seen without him, and the even more important gift of enlarging your imagination, encouraging you to go on looking for yourself" (Poetry Foundation,"William Empson: 1906-1984"). Robert M. Adams, a second book reviewer for The New York Times, argued that many of Empson's interpretations "have attained classic status" ("William Empson")., Empson argues thatambiguity occurs wen one can puzzle over an author's meaning l First and foremost, Seven Types of Ambiguityis an extended examination through logical analysis. In the opening chapter Empson reminds those who might object to a scientific approach to literary criticism that “the belief that Reason can be applied to the arts is as old as criticism, and fundamental to it.” In the preface to the second edition, he restates that “the method of verbal analysis is of course the main point of the book” but goes on to mention “two cross-currents” that found their way