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Articles in Year Five: The Critical Issue

OLM Favorites: Seer Blest

December 1st, 2017

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.

OLM Favorites: Aid in the Labyrinth

December 1st, 2017

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.

Cato of the Antipodes

March 1st, 2012
Cato of the Antipodes

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.

Abandonment, Richness, Surprise

March 1st, 2012

Impressionistic, idiosyncratic, unsubstantiated: Virginia Woolf’s literary essays challenge us to rethink, not just our experience of reading, but our expectations of criticism itself.

Shore to Shore

March 1st, 2012

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.

Queen Elizabeth the First

March 1st, 2012

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

The Tigers of Wrath

March 1st, 2012

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?

The Knower and the Sayer

March 1st, 2012

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.


March 1st, 2012

a poem

Acts of Rendition

March 1st, 2012

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.

How Pleasant to Know Mr. Lane

March 1st, 2012

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.

A Talent for Deception

March 1st, 2012

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.