Courtesy of the Rake, may I direct your attention to this bemused post (I'm shaking my head at the idea that these people can take themselves so damn seriously--"special juju"??):
What real readers of Proust’s novel want are answers. They want to know why this particular passage is more enchanting than that enchanting passage. They want a critic who can accurately determine where Proust gets his special form of juju from. And if the critic can do that, then they want him or her to expose the means by which this special juju mesmerizes the reader so easily and so effectively. An account of a childhood or college experience will not resolve these pressing matters directly but indirectly—which is why the best that the best of the personal accounts in The Proust Project can do is contribute to the mystery of their selected passages. But what you and I want is less sorcery and more answers; we need treatments that will help neutralize the powerful spell Proust has cast on us.
Hmph. Nevermind that I can distinctly hear Wordsworth railing, "We murder to dissect!" from beyond the grave.
So the function of criticism is to "neutralize" the magic of literature? Funny, I always thought that exposing what makes something tick (a tricky endeavor any way you look at it) served to inspire wonder at the skill and artistry of the writer. No wonder inhabitants of the ivory tower choke on their own fumes!
(See this and that for my prior nods to Proust.)