Friday, January 24, 2020

In case you wondered …

… James Wood: What is at Stake When We Write Literary Criticism? | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Serious Noticing gathers essays and reviews written over the last twenty years. Most of them are long book reviews, published for a general audience in general-interest magazines or literary journals (The New RepublicThe New Yorker and the London Review of Books). These pieces belong to the journalistic or writerly critical tradition that comes before and comes after the academic critical tradition; they are marked by that academic tradition but are also trying to do something distinct from it. I like the idea of a criticism that tries to do three things at once: speaks about fiction as writers speak about their craft; writes criticism journalistically, with verve and appeal, for a common reader; and bends this criticism back towards the academy in the hope of influencing the kind of writing that is done there, mindful that the traffic between inside and outside the academy naturally goes both ways.

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