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)

187. (Charles Williams)

When anyone remembers Charles Williams these days, it is probably for one of two reasons. Either they know of Williams through his association with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. He was a brief but dazzling member of the Inklings and features centrally in the enjoyable recent biography of that group, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings by Philip and Carol Zaleski. Otherwise, they know of Williams … Continue reading 187. (Charles Williams)

171. (T.S. Eliot)

  Among Eliot’s staunchest and nimblest readers, Christopher Ricks was unrelenting in his 1978 attack on Eliot’s late essay, “What is Minor Poetry?”  I offer first a series of quotations from Ricks’ piece, published in Ploughshares: Eliot is probably the only important critic who has bent himself to—or on—the distinction between major and minor, and yet even this master of elusiveness found himself out-eluded. For his … Continue reading 171. (T.S. Eliot)

166. (Christopher Ricks)

Ricks’ idiosyncratic, essentially inimitable (though it is irresistible, and can be valuable, to imitate its more superficial mannerisms and habits) critical intelligence is manifest nowhere more than in his writing so well on a poetical figure that he was first to discover: the anti-pun. The term features centrally in his essay on Robert Lowell, where he hears echoes of violence in words that Lowell intimates … Continue reading 166. (Christopher Ricks)

156. (Hannah Ginsborg)

My limited experience reading contemporary philosophers has convinced me that Wittgenstein, Kant, and Aristotle need to be read alongside one another, and that a tangle or confusion in one of the three is often worked out by the strength of a concept or line of argument in another; that view has itself been shaped and strengthened by the concurrent realization that the contemporary interlocutors and … Continue reading 156. (Hannah Ginsborg)

154. (William Wordsworth)

For Wordsworth, the ontological unity of which humankind forms a part at times inspires a longing for division, and at times coincides with the helplessness of isolation and alienation; the failure of human society and actions exacerbates both the longing and the helplessness.  It is the hidden strength of the sympathetic imagination to reconcile humankind to the longing or the alienation, and maybe to overcome either. … Continue reading 154. (William Wordsworth)