A terrifically detailed and invigorating account of a very complicated woman.Read More
As they should, the essays collected in The Digital Critic: Literary Culture Online offer a mixed assessment of the literary culture the Internet has both transformed and distorted. By now it is clear that online literary culture is no longer seen as an appendage to the “real,” more serious and authoritative culture originating in print but is now a fully functioning source of both literary writing and commentary about that writing—it might be argued, in fact, that it now provides the largest and most significant part of the latter.Read More
To the naysayers who complain that critics are nothing more than parasites of art and culture, A. O. Scott has dismaying news: You too are a critic, that very opinion constitutes criticism, welcome to the club, pull up a chair. The premise of his new book Better Living Through Criticism is that the act of criticism is synonymous with the act of thinking, in the manifold ways this can done—wondering, questioning, investigating, examining, shaping ideas, forming judgments. You might imagine criticism to be a more professional pursuit—in Scott’s case, for instance, in his capacity as a film critic for the New York Times, it sometimes involves writing in-depth excurses on the latest superhero blockbuster.Read More
After a long career spent in the throes of literary battle, Harold Bloom wants to tell us that he is done fighting.
He began his combat in the mid-fifties by defending the English Romantics against the New Critics who, inspired by T.S. Eliot, maligned Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth and others to such an extent that study of them was virtually banned in American universities until Bloom took up the call.Read More
Helen Vendler, A. Kingsley Porter Professor at Harvard University, begins her new book with what she calls an “account of [her] life as a critic” – a reasonable subject for an introduction, given that, at the time this review is published, Vendler will have just passed her 82nd birthday. More relevant, though, is that The Ocean, the Bird and the Scholar is the latest of nearly 30 books authored or edited by Vendler since the 1960’s, over the course of which, in addition to hundreds of reviews and essays, she has become known as perhaps the finest living critic of poetry in America.Read More