Posts Tagged: Literary Criticism

Pernicious Individualism

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If anything, Emerson’s transparent eyeball is now a webcam hacked by the NSA. Over at Lit Hub, Jonathon Sturgeon writes about the supposedly rampant and undying force of individualism in American writing—the “imperial self,” an all-encompassing and socially blind thing—from Emerson and Whitman to Safran Foer and Franzen.

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The Hope Whose Death It Announces

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Poetry is defined by a failure to live up to the hype it generates, promising divine transcendence through a medium that is essentially human. This is the paradox Ben Lerner articulates in his dissertation on The Hatred of Poetry. At The New Republic, Ken Chen doesn’t buy it: You get the sense Lerner’s intellectualized peevishness […]

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Eating at the Table of Another

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The critic giveth and he taketh away. In his review of Better Living Through Criticism, Jonathon Sturgeon counters A.O. Scott’s aversion to the idea of the critic as parasite: Maybe the loneliness of the American critic stems from his obsession with freeing minds, which quickly become isolated monads.

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Why Commercial Success Gets Criticized As Sentimental

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Perhaps it is because there are so few proven paths to success, and so little success to go around, that when an acclaimed novelist actually succeeds on a large scale, highbrow critics can become vicious. While the novels praised as “literary” by the critics rarely fly off bookstore shelves to become commercial successes, novels that […]

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An Interview with James Wood

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Over at Electric Literature, Steve Paulson interviews legendary literary critic James Wood, who comments on a variety of subjects: what makes a good critic; the plight of reading widely in our contemporary age; literature as analogous to religion; genre fiction; his friendship with the aging Saul Bellow. A very lovely interview filled with literary appreciation, […]

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Literary Criticism Criticism

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At The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jeffrey J. Williams takes on the question of the role of literary criticism, both historically and in the current moment. In a world where big data is king, criticism has increasingly moved away from radical political pronouncements and metaphysical interventions, and toward what Sharon Marcus and Steven Best have termed […]

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Mountains, Lowlands, and Archipelagos

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Horace Engdahl thinks that creative writing programs and the walled-off communities academic programs create are hurting western literature. Since writing courses help monetize writing—and fund writers as professionals—Engdahl worries that the courses are removing writers from the real world. Engdahl finds fault with literary criticism, too: “We talk in the same way about everything which […]

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Can Poptimism Save Literary Culture?

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Literary criticism suffers from elitism, claims Elisabeth Donnelly over at Flavorwire, and the solution is introducing a poptimism revolution. The term poptimism originated in the music world as a reaction to stodgy music reviewers’ love of Bob Dylan and “argues for a more inclusive view of what matters and what’s pleasurable in music.” Donnelly insists […]

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Honest Reviews, Better Literature

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Good literature demands strong criticism, but today’s culture of niceness has limited critics. Lee Klein, writing in 3:AM Magazine, points out that writers’ interest in receiving positive feedback often leads them to forgo standards and slant reviews positively: Literary citizenship is about buying books, subscribing to lit mags, going to readings. It isn’t about offering […]

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