Tags » On Criticism

23. (William Empson)

Of his drafting and redrafting process, he explained: “the careless ease always goes in last.” The ease was his affectation, an affectation in part of manners and class. 4,910 more words

Brief Essays

On writing an experimental theatre-review of Roman Tragedies

The Lifted Brow has recently re-launched their website, and are commissioning pieces which can only exist in the digital space. I find this incredibly exciting, because although most of my career is based around online-only publications (indeed, I find it rather novel and wonderful when my work appears in print) still the formula of reviewing is much the same today as it was mid last century. 1,536 more words


12. (Robert Browning)

Something happens to attention in works of literature during the early stages of the Victorian era—I had wanted to say that it becomes not only the means but the object of literary scrutiny, but this is not quite right because it is not taken as an explicit object, as something discussed or held up to discursive examination by many authors a great deal of the time. 1,024 more words


9. (Yvor Winters)

Pierre Bourdieu, in a passage from Distinction, gets a few things slightly wrong but one thing immensely right:

To be able to play the games of culture with the playful seriousness which Plato demanded, a seriousness without the “spirit of seriousness”, one has to belong to the ranks of those who have been able, not necessarily to make their whole existence a sort of children’s game, as artists do, but at least to maintain for a long time, sometimes a whole lifetime, a child’s relation tot he world….This is clearly seen when, by an accident of social genetics, into the well-policed world of intellectual games there comes one of those people (one thinks of Rousseau or Chernyshevsky) who bring inappropriate stakes and interests into the games of culture; who get so involved in the game that they abandon the margin of neutralizing distance that the illusion (belief in the game) demands; who treat intellectual struggles, the object of so many pathetic manifestos, as a simple question of right and wrong, life and death. 2,141 more words

Brief Essays

6. (Ben Jonson)

My first thought was: how odd for Eliot, poet-critic who railed against the dissociation of sensibility, to write: “The immediate appeal of Jonson is to the mind; his emotional tone is not in the verse, but in the design of the whole.”  He is not on the surface of things slighting that “poet of the surface,” and yet he seems to enjoin readers to labor harder with their minds, to approach a poetry that will not work with immediate vigor on the nerves–as if the cognitive and emotional were so easily divided. 1,829 more words

Brief Essays