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By James Soderholm

This name to revive a feeling of attractiveness to our tradition will serveas a bellwether of the way forward for literary reports. attractiveness and the Critic brings jointly well-knownmembers of the literary academy to reassert the significance of "aestheticcriticism" and the remedy of literature as paintings. The participants are responding to what the editor calls"the banality of partisanship of literary feedback during this country."The universal concentration is a shared suspicion of critics who're simply interestedin decreasing authors and their works to ideological components, thereby mostlyignoring what makes their writings distinct as artistic endeavors. This focus,however, in no way represents a curmudgeonly response or a united front.Indeed, the collection's power is exactly its wealthy variety evenas the members fight with conventional difficulties in modern criticism,including the matter of the expanding distance among the language ofthe professoriate and the language of the final reader. This choice of essays through its very nature does notpresent an answer to the matter yet demonstrates that critics nonetheless havemany how one can technique literature that attend to its atypical idiom andits specific fulfillment. The essays recommend that the career ofliterature is present process a sea switch, no longer unavoidably for the better,and that well known versions of interpretation became rote, shopworn conventions--techniquesthat substitute proposal instead of exhibit it. James Soderholm and his colleaguesinvite us to revive a feeling of attractiveness and a feeling of dignity to the studyof literature.

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We four, flushed with wine, have since enjoyed many symposia. I wish to acknowledge, along with the Center fellows, a few of my colleagues in the English department: Thomas Bontly, John Goulet, James Liddy and Robert Siegel, William Van Pelt, and Lynn Worsham. The presence and prose of Ihab Hassan often sustained me as I looked at the academic world and nearly abandoned all hope. Fellow thinker and angler Erik Lindberg challenged my every move as only a friend can. Fevronia Novac often provoked me in our aesthetics seminar and also kept my poetry alive.

Morality is of the world; Art is of an ideal realm beyond. As legionnaires of art these critics were dedicated to it alone and foreverexactly like artists. Their critical writings, therefore, must be art too. It was not an unworthy claimin their time. But its prolongation in ours has become an absurdity. Criticism, however lofty, profound, subtle, and divinatory remains exposition and analysis; it is referential and argumentative; it is not original, creative, independent of a text or a theory.

In this light, the abusive series of attacks in the media can be understood in the first instance as anti-intellectual and in the second, when carried out by scholars, as a form of intellectual self-hatred. By speaking of intellectual self-hatred I mean to carry over Sander Gilman's arguments in Jewish Self-Hatred. The intellectual imagines that there is a hidden language of truth from which she or he is barred by reliance on the slippery and partial slopes of metaphoric language. In this fantasy, intellectuals, like Jews, are exiled from a deeper connection to the world and so denounce their own language, the only language that they know or can speak.

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