We will always need critics to show us how literature works by revering it rather than interrogating it as if it had committed a crime.
The essential task of the critic is not to like or dislike the arts or to push bromides, such as to celebrate the “power of reading.” Despite some troublesome modifications, Lionel Trilling carries on the mission of E.A. Poe and Henry James: he articulates the value of the serious act of judgment in a culture hostile to it.
What could have been a readable, informative, pleasurable book that would, much like Woody Allen’s recent film MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, enhance our experience of some of the modernist figures we adore wallows too often in brain-dead literary theory.
The important question the NYTBR Editors fail to ask is whether the traditional definition and values of literary criticism will survive in an age of ebooks and iPads. Is there a primal appetite for criticism? (Edith Wharton says there is, and I believe her.) How will the Internet shape our innate desire to compare, judge, […]