Should not all who attempt to write in some form about literature, whether we grace our writing with the term criticism have these first two sentences pinned above our desks?
“When he looks back, the critic sees a eunuch’s shadow. Who would be a critic if he could be a writer? Who would hammer out the subtlest insight into Dostoevsky if he could weld an inch of the Karamazov, or argue the poise of Lawrence if he could shape the free gust of life in The Rainbow? All great writings springs from le dur désir de durer, the harsh contrivance of spirit against death, the hope to overreach time by force of creation. ‘Brightness falls from the air’; five words and a trick of darkening sound. But they have outworn three centuries. Who would choose to be a literary critic if he could set verse to sing, or compose, out of his own mortal being, a vital fiction, a character that will endure.”