It operates as a refuge for a civilizing element in short supply in contemporary America: honest criticism
The unbearable rightness of criticism
On negative reviews of great poets.
was right!Support The
When critics play parlor games, they imagine how they would have reviewed the controversial books of the past. Critics are later judged, not by the book they failed to pan, but by the book they failed to praise. Most are certain that, given the chance, they would have recognized the genius of Lyrical Ballads, or Leaves of Grass, or The Waste Land. We pour bile on the heads of the dolts of 1798 and 1855 and 1922 who didn’t realize what was on the desk before them.
When you look at those wrongheaded, purblind reviews now long forgotten, however, it’s surprising how shrewd they are, even the most notorious ones. The critics (like the poets themselves) were creatures of their day, and subject to the prejudices of the day. The reviewer is most vulnerable facing a poetry that threatens convention—violations of form and formality tend to provoke the most ill-considered judgments. Yet even there, after ...
This article is available to subscribers and for individual purchase
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 30 April 2012, on page 21
Copyright © 2014 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.comhttp://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/The-unbearable-rightness-of-criticism-7331
E-mail to friend
Reviews of Caribou , by Charles Wright; Directing Herbert White, by James Franco; The Road to Emmaus, by Spencer Reece; Roget’s Illusion, by Linda Bierds; and Broken Hierarchies: Poems, 1952–2012, by Geoffrey Hill, edited by Kenneth Haynes.
by Hadley Arkes
Analyzing the views of the distinguished legal scholar Richard Epstein.
by Donald Kagan
A lecture delivered by Donald Kagan after he received the second Edmund Burke Award for Service to Culture and Society.
A new biography of James Madison hopes to change the way we remember America's fourth President.
The Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity
Introduction to The Kennedy Phenomenon
The Kennedy Phenomenon: "Watching the Kennedy Train-Wreck"
Jul 31, 2014 12:45 PM