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60The Bard, the Black, the Jewhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2004/03/the-bard-the-black-the-jew
Mon, 01 Mar 2004 00:00:00 -0500 More than any other writer, Shakespeare embodies the distinctive principles of Western Civilization. Men and women of the West are drawn to Shakespeare because his plays and poems continue to express their aspirations, to articulate their concerns, and to confront the tensions and contradictions in the Western vision itself. He is admired not as an uncritical encomiast of his own culture and society, but rather as an exemplum of the spirit”both critical and conservative”that is among the Wests most enduring legacies to the world. It is, therefore, no surprise that academic literary critics, who owe their very existence to Shakespeare and other great writers, have cast doubt upon Shakespeares exalted position at exactly the moment in history when the societies of the West have become most anxious about their own integrity and probity.
Tue, 01 Apr 1997 00:00:00 -0500 Cleanth Brooks and the Rise of Modern Criticism
By Mark Royden Winchell
University Press of Virginia, 510 pages, $34.95
]]> The Old New Criticism and its Criticshttps://www.firstthings.com/article/1993/08/004-the-old-new-criticism-and-its-critics
Sun, 01 Aug 1993 00:00:00 -0400Among the pugnacious practitioners of academic literary studies, who agree among themselves on almost nothing, there is one consensus: the New Criticism”that is, the
New Criticism associated with the names of T. S. Eliot, Allen Tate, John Crowe Ransom, Cleanth Brooks”
New Criticism is over, finished, defunct. What is more, this shift in critical fashion is widely perceived not merely as a routine scholarly development, but as a great liberation, the lifting of an onerous burden”as if literature professors had somehow been bearing the entire weight of
The World’s Body
upon their shoulders, or as if textbooks like
Sound and Sense
constituted a form of bondage or a grand imposition on the credulity of college English teachers. Never again, they seem to proclaim in the smug tone of someone conscious of having recovered righteousness, will we submit to that unhistorical formalism or subject our students to the cultural elitism of canonical works. Everywhere the atmosphere of classrooms and library bookstack carrels thickens with an almost palpable fog of sanctimony.