Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press
Critical Essays, Reviews
Literature, Literary History, Literary Study

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Andy Edwards

Thanks for posting this. Made me wonder how many agents, publishers, editors could even begin to evaluate on Dewey's level.

Excellent blog.

Finn Harvor

"Something which Delacroix said of painters of his day applies to inferior artists generally. He said they used coloration rather than color. The statement signified that they applied color to their represented objects instead of making them out of color."

I doubt very strongly this is what Delacroix "signified" when he made these remarks. He was a remarkable draughtsman as well as a remarkable painter. (View, for example, his illustrated sketch-books, where the marriage between line and colour is more readily apparent to the untrained eye than in his paintings.)

Even if Dewey's idea about what Delacroix meant is essentially correct (I don't know Dewey's work apart from what I've read here, so it's possible he had a genuine understanding of what representational artists do in practice; an understanding that has declined in recent years), I must say I feel uncomfortable with taking Delacroix's disdain for a certain species of colouration and trying to draw (no pun intended) a literary analogy from it. In Delacroix's art we do not find -- as you seem to be suggesting in the title of this post, "Colored Drawings", with its clearly pejorative implication -- a separation of line from colour, but a combination of the two.

Il faut voir encore une fois l'oeuvre de Delacroix.

Dan Green

Dewey isn't saying that Delacroix himself separated line from color. He's saying that Delacroix indeed made his own represented objects out of color through the kind of marriage your describe. Dewey doesn't make a distinction between realism and non-realism in this regard.


"A preoccupation with ideas, with "themes" or social commentary or political efficacy or the author's biographical circumstances, deflects attention away from the work's primary reason for being, its exploitation of "medium," and reduces the experience of literary art to an ordinary form of communication."

Although I am a big fan of Dewey's work too, the last paragraph of your great blog entry doesn't really acknowledge the power of "reading as poaching" as de Certeau would have it. Correct me if I have misunderstood your intention, but it seems like you are disappointed that audiences/critics are not "getting it".

They may just be getting something else, in other words, creating something else from the text/artwork not intended by the artist/author. I don't believe that Dewey would frown on this "practice" of reception/perception at all.

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