Category Archives: Literary criticism

Middlemarch in Six!” Nick Hornby’s The Polysyllabic Spree

This is the first in what I plan as a regular series of re-posts from my archives. It seems appropriate to lead off with a review that was not only one of my earliest posts (it first went up on the blog in January 2007) but one that lays out some of my reasons for […]

Margaret Kennedy, The Outlaws on Parnassus

Preparing for reading The Constant Nymph in my Somerville Novelists seminar, I was intrigued to learn that in her Times obituary Margaret Kennedy was accorded little significance as a novelist while her book on the novel, The Outlaws on Parnassus, was considered her greatest literary contribution. I promptly ordered it from interlibrary loan, and it arrived just in […]

Blogging is Detrimental to Literature? Make Him Stop Saying That!

Just when you thought maybe, just maybe, the worst was over when it came to casually dismissive generalizations about blogging–you know, of the kind that used to get us all riled up way back in 2008, and that still irked us in 2010–we get this, from the editor of the TLS: The rise of blogging […]

The Moral Continuum: Paul Scott, The Jewel in the Crown

Like The Once and Future King, The Jewel in the Crown is something I have gotten around to very belatedly. I have known about it for ages and always meant to read it, but hadn’t, until now. I haven’t even seen the old BBC adaptation–at least, not all of it. (I think I saw some episodes when […]

The Worth of Our Work (with Some Thoughts on Jonah Lehrer)

Alas, alas! This hurts most, this . . that, after all, we are paid The worth of our work, perhaps. — Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh The very smart and funny Adam Roberts has decided to put an end to his blog Punkadiddle. Iif you haven’t already had the pleasure, you should check out the archives – […]

Open Letters Monthly: The Criticism Issue

The March issue of Open Letters Monthly went live this morning. It’s the journal’s 5th anniversary, and we’ve celebrated by paying tribute to some of the great critics of the last century–those who inspire, challenge, and provoke us as we try in our own ways to be the best critics we can be. The issue is […]

When is Reading Research?

I’ve been thinking more about what we mean when we say “research.” In my post on the ‘duties of professors,’ I quote C. Q. Drummond’s remark, If research in an Arts Faculty means humane learning, then we all hope our teachers are as much involved in research as they possibly can be. We want them […]

A New Year, A New Open Letters!

Welcome to 2012! What better way could there be to usher it in than to pore over the lovingly-edited pieces in the brand new issue of Open Letters Monthly? I think we’ve started the year off well, with four members of our core editorial team contributing pieces: John Cotter reviews a risky new novel about […]

Novel Readings 2011

It’s time again for my ritual look back and the highs and lows of my reading year. Because I was on sabbatical for the few half of 2011, I got quite a lot of reading done–or so it seems, anyway. Since I don’t keep statistics, I can’t be sure if the quantity of books was […]

Mark Bauerlein’s “The Research Bust”

I have mixed but mostly negative feelings about Mark Bauerlein’s recent piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education about literary research. Reporting on a study* he did for the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, Bauerlein argues that (most) literary research and publishing is not worth the investment of time and money that goes into it. His […]

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