Category Archives: Literary Criticism

Art and Entertainment

Yet in many cultural loci these days we are asked to read and write easier, more naively, less rigorously. We are asked to understand by not taking the time and energy to understand. One difference between art and entertainment has … Continue reading

Posted in Literary Criticism | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Disturbing Fiction

It must have been at thirteen, fourteen at most that I found a piece of fiction both repugnant and riveting in equal measure. I remember the fiction. It was Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Perhaps I was too young to read Kafka, … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Literature in Translation, Literary Criticism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Solace Through Reading

It seems to me that literary critics fall into two groups. There are probably more, but for the sake of this post, two will do. Most aspire to emulate nineteenth century men of letters, bloviating endlessly, mostly, it seems to me, … Continue reading

Posted in Literary Criticism | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Disburdenment Through Reading

This recent piece in the LA Review of Books seized my attention, and as a consequence I’m reading Uses of Literature. It is one of those rare books of literary criticism, if you are fascinated as I am by the … Continue reading

Posted in Literary Criticism | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

The Ideology of the Trivial

Another writer, quintessentially English I believe, on my reading radar is Barbara Pym. Any Pym enthusiasts care to stoke my curiosity? This passage from Judy Little’s The Experimental Self: Dialogic Subjectivity in Woolf, Pym, and Brooke-Rose interested me, both by its … Continue reading

Posted in Essays, Literary Criticism | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

WG Sebald: Bibliography of Secondary Literature

In the next few days I’ll draw to a close my present immersion into Sebald’s work, leaving The Natural History of Destruction, Campo Santo, Across the Land and the Water, Unrecounted and For Years Now for another day.It’ll prolong the … Continue reading

Posted in Essays, Literary Criticism, The Joy of Lists | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A Radically Altered Human Species

The implicit starting point for Sebald’s literary essays is the melancholy conviction that, during the course of the twentieth century, the history of mankind finally showed itself to be on a downward path and that, therefore, the two disastrous world … Continue reading

Quote | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Abandoning a Good (Great) Book?

I dislike novels of the Dickensian type that insist on neat resolutions, tucking away every story line. Endings are troublesome; they suggest the possibility of a conclusiveness that simply does not exist. They are a problem of narrative of which I am always … Continue reading

Posted in Essays, Literary Criticism | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Where I’m Reading From by Tim Parks

For a whimsical purchase one Sunday afternoon, I’m pleased with the rich provocations in Tim Parks’s Where I’m Reading From, a collection of powerful essays written for the New York Review of Books. Parks’s clear incisive discussion of contemporary criticism, translation and … Continue reading

Posted in Essays, Literary Criticism | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Forster and the Literary Forebears

When EM Forster lectured at Trinity College in 1927, he opened his series of lectures on the novel (collected in Aspects of the Novel) provocatively: No English novelist is as great as Tolstoy-that is to say, has given so complete … Continue reading

Posted in Literary Criticism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments