Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press
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I'm not sure that Vendler's articles have been exiled by editors, although perhaps she has chosen to exile herself. Many years ago, I asked one academic with something approaching Vendler's public profile to review a book for Modern Philology, and she bluntly informed me that she was no longer interested in writing for academic journals that didn't pay.

Rocco DiStreitlmahn

I think Northrop Frye had it right when he asserted that it's not poetry that need be independent of history, philosophy, politics, etc, but rather literary criticism itself, if it's to have any claim to being an autonomous intellectual discipline w/in the academy.

Alexandre S.

"They don't want to de-politicize it; they want it to embody their own politics, their own view of the way things ought to be."

Some of them, sure. But all of them? This conservative academic, for instance, states things in a way that certainly seem reasonable?


Enjoyable post--would it be too simple to ask whether "apolitical" and "conservative" might be effectively the same thing? Personally, I'm not sure I'm sold on the "apathy is conservatism" argument, but I have heard it uttered as self-evident truth numerous times by friends and collegues.

Dan Green

I don't think "apolitical" and "apathetic" are synonymous terms. One could be decidedly apolitical about something one thinks ought not to be entangled in politics--say, literature--while also being very political indeed about actual politics. Come to think of it, that would be a good description of me.


I'm not entirely sure to what extent one could ever be wholly pure in one's approach to literary criticism. I'm not convinced that it's possible to put things like politics to one side because ideology seeps into any reader's perspective, just as unconscious desire does.I suppose I feel more comfortable with the thought of self-aware readers, who state the position from which they speak, when they speak. Then at least everyone else feels free from that kind of insidious, unspoken indoctrination that seems to turn criticism into propaganda.


"nugatory" and I though hortatory was going to be my new word of the day, no indeedy, hortatory turned out to be nugatory, even if the issues surrounding good lit crit are all hortatory to the max no matter what one says

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