30 May 2007


Scott McLemee on the need for good criticism:
“With the very text of Germinal before him,” as the journalist puts it, the student “was so concerned with showing that he knew how to read his book with a modish approach that he simply could not recognize the most obvious quality of Zola’s great novel — which was its force. He felt no necessary connection between his experience and that described in the novel, but he had brought in wholly arbitrary connections, couched in a critical vocabulary that he had learned by rote, whose historical applications and limitations he did not understand. He was like a tourist in a foreign country; he could imitate the language but not understand it.”
Readers (and students) need to understand that reading is an experience. But I know that academia looks down on personal observations...and God forbid that you're actually moved by a work of literature. Such "emotion" clutters the scientific precision of the criticism, right?

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