Literary Criticism

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Literary Criticism is an art in itself and I think this is how the latter Twentieth Century brought this about.  I am certainly not an expert but have read enough book reviews and essays by critics that I think I am adequately informed.   I didn’t even want to list the so-called great ones as though to convince you I know something.  I for one enjoyed Orwell.  Borges was always too intense and flighty for me.  I don’t remember all of them.   Our local ones are excellent, Romano and Wilson.  I always liked Desmond Ryan, who must be long in the tooth now.  He’s gotten better over the years.  James, Wilson, O’Conner, McCarthy, Purdy, Rorty, Trilling, Danto and Frye.  Kermode!  Wrap ‘em all up and it’s reduced to who entertains the mind best, despite all their particular aesthetic and philosophical illusions.  It’s who can turn out the word and turn a few tables.   When I read a critic I expect no less than the excellence on which he informs, even if that object of observation and translation to meaning is inferior to his abilities.  My fear is that my novel may fall into the hands of a critic whose talents are less than mine.  He feels obliged to bring my excellence to the level of his ordinariness.  This happens and has destroyed careers.  And the opposite:  The excellent critic brings something inferior to the fore and makes it more than it is.  Sometimes even the best ones are mistaken or motivated by motives ulterior to the scope of the work at hand.

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