225. Suspending Words

Within David Runciman’s rapidly swirling, but nonetheless breezy, work of political science, How Democracy Ends is an ethical anxiety, and hope, that he has explored in at least one earlier work on American politics, but that emerges with a force and appeal that feels more at home in a tradition of continental philosophy. In part, this is because the idea comes into focus in his … Continue reading 225. Suspending Words

221. (John Keats)

This post is the first in a series of evolving sketches on “decorum” in poetry; it leads into the next post, on Emily Dickinson, both of which are much refined and restated in yet another post on Emily Dickinson (223). Through all of these posts, I’m writing against and with Donald Davie, the critic best remembered for Articulate Energy and Purity of Diction in English Verse. None of … Continue reading 221. (John Keats)

214. (T.S. Eliot)

When someone says that something possesses the quality of the literary, or refers to the literary or even artistic imagination, they refer, I’ve suggested, to a special sort of imaginative tact: one that apprehends bodily experience. On the one hand, it might be said that not all literature is or should be about the body; on the other hand, it might be said that any … Continue reading 214. (T.S. Eliot)

205. (William Empson)

That great literature balances great forces judiciously, that it calms a turbulence of mind, and that it communicates truths that otherwise could not be communicated is never left in doubt by Empson’s criticism, but he is distinguished by never panting after the proof, by not worrying over ranking or finding the right terms of praise. The puzzle for him is in working out what his … Continue reading 205. (William Empson)

194. (Erich Auerbach)

Literature only happens at a distance from the ideology it depends on for its making; that is why ideological critique of any literary work is possible, without our having to cease reading it as literature, and yet without doing literary criticism. In any work of literature, that is, there is an unresolved debate–playful or savage–between some set of claims to what is and to what … Continue reading 194. (Erich Auerbach)

193. (Marius Bewley)

Marius Bewley is probably little remembered nowadays; a literary critic of the mid-century, whose critical principles were indebted mostly to Lionel Trilling and F.R. Leavis, he wrote mostly, and most penetratingly, on American literature. His book length studies of the American novel, The Eccentric Design and The Complex Fate, are concerned with authors from Cooper to Fitzgerald, with special attention in the latter to Hawthorne … Continue reading 193. (Marius Bewley)