I just received the new Identity Theory newsletter (where founding editor Matt Borondy shamelessly asserts, "This newsletter was powered by a Grande White Chocolate Mocha Latte and a Cranberry Bliss Bar") and am now grinning like an idiot.
Academics, alas [searches for words], they bring all these—more so all the time—all these irrelevant agendas to dissecting a work of literature. When you approach a work of literature you should approach it as a work of art and everything else is totally irrelevant. Sociological concerns are, at best, secondary. Yes, you can examine the ethos of the 1920s when you read The Great Gatsby, but it's secondary to considering what makes Gatsby work as art. What are the sustaining motifs? What is the effect of the peripheral narrator and blah, blah, blah? Very few academics approach it in this way. They all have their little axes to grind.
~ Blake Bailey, biographer
I look forward to reading Bailey's entire interview with the inexhaustible Robert Birnbaum.
(Oh, and they also have a new group book discussion blog!)