I think different literary essayists give us different things, and we read them for different pleasures. I've never really liked Randall Jarrell, as I think some of his views are incredibly wrongheaded. I feel the same way about Philip Larkin's literary essays, some of which are incredibly wrongheaded, but are nonetheless great fun to read; Larkin on jazz however is always irritating because his ideas of jazz were stuck in the distant past. I sometimes think people praise Samuel Johnson only because they like a well-turned insult.I rather like Noel Perrin's short essays on literary matters, some of which are just really good book reviews. He often makes an illuminating side remark that opens up the review into the wider world, and makes connections beyond the purely insular and literary.