160. (William Gaddis)

Charles Dickens appears as a character in Gaddis’ The Recognitions, published in 1955, and it is hard not to believe that Gaddis did not, if he did not arrive there himself, come to an appreciation of Dickens through the praise of Edmund Wilson, written some fifteen years earlier and carrying others in its wake since. In The Recognitions, Charles Dickens attempts suicide, and later, after a stay … Continue reading 160. (William Gaddis)

159. (William Gaddis)

T.S. Eliot’s claim that Henry James had a mind so fine that no idea could violate it might be misunderstood as disguised disparagement or understood, against the intentions of the critic, as damning praise; it might also be taken as a stupid statement. I think it might suppose an alignment of mind and work, so that Eliot really is referring to the quality of the … Continue reading 159. (William Gaddis)

158. (George Eliot)

Six, and possibly seven, models were available for the realist novel in the nineteenth century. First, the novel of social order and disorder, in which society is an engine with efficiency and waste, or with conservation and loss (Austen, Dickens, Hardy, Zola at times; the novel of manners and naturalism are both potentially in this category–that is because this category could likely swell to fit … Continue reading 158. (George Eliot)

153. (Charles Sanders Peirce)

He has almost no interest in the field of aesthetics, and though his theory of semiotics might be thought most germane to the study of literature, it is not necessarily most germane to what is most literary in Peirce. I’m hardly an expert on the great American philosopher, but as I read his essays not for the first time, but for what feels like the … Continue reading 153. (Charles Sanders Peirce)

152. (Wallace Stevens)

When you start out with a feeling of alienation—from an unspoken, blank, or meaningless past—from a mass of others, or even single others, in the present–or from a future defined by a fraudulent and thin promise—the risks are either cynical withdrawal, refusing to believe that the estrangement can be overcome, or else sentimentality, the insistence that a momentary, blazing common feeling be allowed to outshine … Continue reading 152. (Wallace Stevens)

145. (James Baldwin)

The thought of there being a distinct American problem, to be worked out by authors in the United States, has never appealed to me. Often, when I considered it, it seemed to be valid mostly in so far as American exceptionalism, from the start, made American authors believe that they must be confronted by a special dilemma of and for expression. Occasionally, I could understand … Continue reading 145. (James Baldwin)