Articles in Year Five: The Critical Issue
For two generations, the great American critic and man of letters Edmund Wilson has been instructing and delighting his readers – and inspiring some of them to become critics themselves.
Randall Jarrell was suspicious of attempts to turn criticism into a science: he wrote as a reader, for other readers, with the work itself foremost in his mind.
Of his 60+ books, one in particular, The United States, is best representative of his work as a whole and, by readers, best loved. On the Collected Essays of Gore Vidal.
Impressionistic, idiosyncratic, unsubstantiated: Virginia Woolf’s literary essays challenge us to rethink, not just our experience of reading, but our expectations of criticism itself.
Frank Kermode consumed all of the tumultuous 20th century’s literary theories without being consumed by them. A look at the work of this wisest of secular clerics.
Elizabeth Hardwick joined the literary world of mid-20th century Manhattan with every intention of making her mark upon it – which she did, in review after inimitable review, taking American book-discourse to levels and places it had never reached before
Where would Lionel Trilling, godfather of the liberal imagination, fit into our contemporary culture of ideas? And how much of that culture is of his making?
Most criticism is reactive, but in his essay “The Poet,” Ralph Waldo Emerson proved prophetic. He set a challenge and Walt Whitman took him up on it.
Richard Poirier was one of the great bridge-builders–his sorely neglected classic A World Elsewhere drew upon the writing of Emerson but presciently anticipated the postmodernist ideas that would soon enter the mainstream.
The best of Anthony Lane’s many New Yorker reviews and essays were collected in Nobody’s Perfect, a big volume that amply displays this writer’s wit and subtlety.
Agatha Christie has received praise from wide and varied corners, and mystery columnist Irma Heldman adds to the chorus with this retrospective on the life and work of the Queen of Crime.