Literary Criticism

RECENT REVIEWS

The Image of Genre

The Image of Genre

Image credit: Hanne Darboven, Detail from Quartett >88<, 1988, 1989, Renaissance Society, Chicago, 2000.   IT WOULD BE a very long list indeed if I were to name all of the vi...

The Achievement of “Young Men and Fire”

The Achievement of “Young Men and Fire”

IN 1990, NORMAN MACLEAN, author of A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, died without sending his long awaited second book to a publisher. A sprawling nonfiction account of a 1949 Montana forest ...

The Writer Postponed: Barthes at the BnF

The Writer Postponed: Barthes at the BnF

THE BNF (Bibliothèque nationale de France) exhibition is one of numerous events commemorating the centenary of the birth of the author of “The Death of the Author” (1967). The exhibition is a rat...

The Writing Life

The Writing Life

ON WRITING — a collection of Charles Bukowski’s letters on the writing life — is filled with hilarious, obscene, and at times heartbreakingly sad musings and thoughts to his friends, publishers...

Good Literary Criticism: On the Crisis of Man

Good Literary Criticism: On the Crisis of Man

I DOUBT I’M ALONE in confessing that my earliest awareness of “literary criticism” as an enterprise and institution comes from Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan. You know the scene: earnest, middle...

Coorie Doon: Dirda’s Year of Reading

Coorie Doon: Dirda’s Year of Reading

“WHY IS IT that I so seldom want to read what everyone else wants to read?” Michael Dirda asks in “Armchair Adventures,” the third essay of his new release Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collec...

Pistols at Dawn

Pistols at Dawn

FEW SOCIAL PRACTICES now seem more antiquated than the formal duel by swords or pistols. The so-called “judicial duel” became widely practiced in Europe in the early Middle Ages, influenced by Hom...

Serious Series

Serious Series

THREE DECADES AGO John Sutherland, writing for a special issue of Critical Inquiry, called the history of publishing “a hole at the center of literary sociology,” and predicted that “most future...

Not Loving, Working!

Not Loving, Working!

AS SO OFTEN these days, I’m on a plane with a book on my knee. I’ve relished planes more since they emerged as nooks in which to read offline and have come to do my best reading detached from the ...

Form’s Function

Form’s Function

A FAMILY FEUD opens Caroline Levine’s intelligent new treatise on literary interpretation. In the preface, she describes regularly arguing with her father, an eminent intellectual historian, over h...