This paper has a double aim: to draw a general outline or the critical reflection on the relationship between science and literature in the past, and to classify the possible modes of inquiry into this subject at present. The main focus falls on some representative discussions of the relationship between science and literature in mid-20th-century theorists (I. A. Richards, Max Eastman, Aldous Huxley, Roland Barthes…). I conclude that no ‘true’ relation between science and literature can be defined once and forever, due to several reasons. The first is that the relationships that we effectively discern change with time. Therefore, a definition of the relationship between literature and science must be a history of the relationship between literature and science. Moreover, as both science and criticism develop, we manage to discern new kinds of relationships between both disciplines. And great writers constantly appear and modify through their work the panorama we tried to describe. The diverging channels of of science and literature are the result of the division and specialization of labour and discourse that we call ‘progress’. New scientific perspectives on literature, new literature which takes scientific doctrine in stride, or new accounts of the way in which science is still ‘poetic’ are also the result of this division of discourses, and a further complication of their relationship.