Monday, April 21, 2014

Theme: Literary Criticism

  • To read George Eliot attentively is to become aware how little one knows about her. It is also to become aware of the credulity, not very creditable to one's insight, with which, half consciously and partly maliciously, one had accepted the late Victorian version of a deluded woman who held phantom sway over subjects even more deluded than herself.Read more
  • “Thomas Pynchon merits recognition as America’s greatest historical novelist”, (24) is the rather grand claim upon which David Cowart bases his new study of this author’s attempts to disentangle the ravelled strands of received history, to make some sense out of the past. But it may not be an exaggerationRead more
  • For over fifty years now, the (mostly) French phenomenon known as the Oulipo (short for Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, or ‘Workshop for Potential Literature’) has been baffling and enthralling readers everywhere with its array of opaque literary techniques. Founded in 1960 as a subcommittee of the even more enigmatic Collège de ‘Pataphysique, the group has included such luminaries as Italo Calvino, Georges Perec and Raymond Queneau.Read more
  • The first readers to comment on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Crack-Up” essays made no pretense to literary criticism. They just wanted to dish—and diss. Read more
  • I discovered Alfred Kazin’s journals in the summer of 1984. I was researching a book on American public criticism, criticism written for the reading public, or what Virginia Woolf called the “common reader,” rather than for academics. Read more
  • Robert Penn Warren, Carl Sandburg, and Sherwood Anderson himself all testified to Seager’s talent and skill. Poet and novelist James Dickey said he owed his career to reading Amos BerryRead more
  • What do we mean by literature today? Why study it? Is there a form of writing that is not literary? This is a book of questions rather than answers.Read more
  • My own approach to literature and literary criticism is strongly informed by the example of New Criticism, although substituting for the New Critics' tendency to treat the text as object an emphasis on aesthetic experience, inspired by John Dewey's Art as Experience. The New Critics' insistence that the proper focus of literary study was on literature, not politics or sociology, that reading requires paying close attention to the organization of language, and that whatever "meaning" a text conveys is necessarily conditioned by its formal organization have always seemed to me not just convincing but finally so manifestly obvious I can't really accept the judgment implicitly rendered by the practice of academic criticism that the underlying assumptions of New Criticism are inextricably tied to a historical phase of literary criticism that was appropriately superseded by the new assumptions of subsequent phases. Read more
  • The first thing to be said is that to define Modernism in any way at all is to take a stand. In that it is like Romanticism. You cannot write a 'history of Romanticism' or of Modernism, because you cannot stand above it on some neutral vantage-point. In my book I argued that though Modernism is associated with certain avant-garde artists working between 1850 and 1950 it is quite wrong to think of it as period-based, like Mannerism, or The Victorian Period, because that implies that it is now over and behind us.Read more
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