The critic is a reader before he is a writer, a spirited lover of literature, and criticism is one important use to which he puts his reading and his love. To sit before literature in appreciation and awe, to want to have some hand in facilitating literature’s efficacy, to comprehend that literature is, in Kenneth Burke’s phrase, “equipment for living,” a means of enlargement and enhancement and understanding: these are the critic’s prerequisites. He is leashed to no theory, no ideology, no asphyxiating –ism. Like the poet and novelist, he is of no party. His sole loyalty, with Horace and Wilde, is to the duet of beauty and wisdom, to what is well made and usefully wise, to the defense of what is daring and the dismissal of what is not.
Tuesday, August 21, 2018
… A Critic’s Ars Poetica - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)