Wednesday, March 19, 2008

McDonald's 'Death of the Critic'

Many thanks to Ms. Baroque over on the Baroque in Hackney blog for bringing a review to my attention that was published on March 12th on the TLS online. The review was of Rónán McDonald's 'The Death of the Critic' (160pp. Continuum. £14.99 ISBN: 978 0 82649 279 1) and makes fascinating reading. Or rather, the book under review looks as though it will make fascinating reading.

My particular fascination is that, discussing the history of literary criticism in the early-mid twentieth century, McDonald apparently gives us 'good reasons for the status of its leading figures, such as T. S. Eliot, I. A. Richards, Lionel Trilling and the New Critics, and he invites us to find insights rather than delusions. “These critics are still paraded before each generation of university students as ideologically befuddled, or reactionary bogeymen.” '

I have long been excited by twentieth century literary criticism - I apologise for any yawns induced by that statement - and can't wait to get hold of The Death of the Critic to learn more about the ones I haven't yet read widely, and hopefully to find suggestions for our own way ahead, as twenty-first century critics and readers of criticism. Perhaps this might be a good time for me to earmark some time to blog about the critics I've really enjoyed reading and learnt from - including some I've already mentioned on Raw Light, like TS Eliot - and discuss some of their ideas and theories in greater depth.

For instance, many people don't realise that Ted Hughes, in addition to his controversial book on Shakespeare and the Goddess, also has a small body of literary criticism - in the form of articles, reviews, lectures, letters etc. - some of which will knock your socks off. More anon.

You can get hold of McDonald's 'The Death of the Critic' in hardback on A paperback edition is due out in October 2008.


Bo said...

I like Shax. and the Goddess of Complete Being. I would never have used it in an essay, but I felt the force of Hughes' reading of the Canon.

Jane Holland said...

Aye. Tis one hell of a tome, that book. But not, as you say, conservatively academic enough to be quoted in an essay, perhaps!

David Caddy said...

Hi Jane,

I have been enjoying your blog and Poets On Fire.

Get well soon. I hope to see you sometime soon.

Anonymous said...

I was blown away by 'Winter Pollen' when I read it about 15 years ago ... great stuff.


Jane Holland said...

Yes, there are some magnificent moments in 'Winter Pollen' (Ted Hughes: critical essays etc.) that I'm forever quoting.

I spent a small fortune getting the hardback (from the U.S.?) soon after it was published, as I recall. But it was money well-spent, as the book has survived many house moves since then and even the unfortunate collapse of an entire bookcase on top of it. A good sturdy volume!

Another possible blog post there, aimed at all those who have not yet discovered his critical work.

Apologies to those wondering why I haven't posted on Raw Light in a while, btw. I've been unwell but am now on the mend. Hopefully.

Bo said...

get well soon!!!