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Daniel Green
Interests: Good writing, creative and critical.
Recent Activity
Joseph North’s Literary Criticism: A Concise Political History is a book with a provocative premise addressing an important subject that ultimately does justice to neither. North contends that academic literary study has settled into a stagnant and unavailing practice that aligns it entirely with “scholarship’]” at the expense of “criticism.”... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Critical Commentary
Although Elaine Showalter’s Teaching Literature is clearly intended to be read primarily by graduate students or instructors just beginning their teaching careers, one can also read the book, against the grain of the author’s own rhetorical goals, perhaps, as a guide for the academic outlander to the curious practices of... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Critical Commentary
To say, as Mark McGurl does in The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing, that "far from occasioning a sad decline in the quality or interest of American literature, as one so often hears, the writing program has generated a complex and evolving constellation of aesthetic... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Critical Commentary
A frequent criticism of creative writing programs is that they focus too narrowly on established techniques supposedly constituting “craft,” but if Gordon Mennenga is to be believed in this excerpt from We Wanted to Be Writers, very few concrete literary strategies were “taught” at all at the most famous such... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Critical Commentary
In "The Critic as Ethnographer,” (New Literary History) Richard Van Oort) writes: The discipline of literature is no longer restricted to literature. Literature still forms a large part of what we study in English and Modern Language departments, but our interest in the interpretation of classic works. . .has been... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Critical Commentary
In an essay at The New Yorker, Louis Menand recounts an episode from early in his career as a professor in which a student asked him, "Why did we have to buy this book?" Continuing in the student's mercantile language, Menand avers that the student was "asking me to justify... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Critical Commentary
It may be true that, as Michael Blowhard contends, Gold Medal Books, publisher of pulp/noir fiction in the 1950s, "had a greater impact on the content and form [of] American fiction-writing than any other postwar book publisher," although he doesn't really provide much support for this claim beyond citing a... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Critical Commentary
According to Morris Dickstein, To understand the changes that shook the modern world, my students and colleagues have returned in recent years to long-neglected writers in the American realist tradition, including William Dean Howells, Theodore Dreiser, Stephen Crane, Sinclair Lewis, Edith Wharton and Willa Cather. For readers like me who... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Critical Commentary
In an issue of First Things , R.V. Young, an English professor at North Carolina State University, seeks to praise Shakespeare, and not to bury him. Here is the first paragraph of his essay: More than any other writer, Shakespeare embodies the distinctive principles of Western Civilization. Men and women... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Critical Commentary
Richard Jenkyns believes that, although a "canon" of literary works is necessary in providing us with a stock of appropriate "shared references," such a canon does not have to be exclusively "high cultural." It is surely vain to suppose that poorly educated and disaffected young Asians can be brought to... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Critical Commentary
If Charles Dickens is not as widely read and appreciated by modern readers as he should be, this is no doubt due in part to the horrible way Dickens has been "taught" in American high schools. By and large, the Dickens novel most frequently thrust into the hands of high... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Critical Commentary
Steve Mitchelmore quotes this passage from Reiner Stach’s biography of Kafka: [Kafka] demanded much more from his texts than formal unity; he sought a seamless linking of all motifs, images, and concepts. Beginning with "The Judgement," he was generally able to achieve this unity in the stories he completed. These... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Critical Commentary
Kelly Jane Torrance believes that while "Experimentalism — successful or not — has often counted highly in making a literary reputation," fortunately "there are signs that literary modernism. . .is not aging well." Torrance provides no evidence for this assertion, aside from her own impatience with William Faulkner and a... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Critical Commentary
The most important argument James Shapiro makes in his book Contested Will is not that the author of Shakespeare's plays and poems is William Shakespeare (the "Stratford man")--anyone who honestly examines both the evidence for Shakespeare's authorship and the evidence for all of the rival candidates (most notably the Earl... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Critical Commentary
In the May/Summer 2004 issue of The Writer's Chronicle, Alice Mattison offers an interesting essay defending the use of coincidence in fiction. Subtitled "An Essay Against Craft," the essay commends the use of coincidence as a way of taking risk, which Mattison feels is discouraged in a literary world dominated... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Critical Commentary
An essay by Randy Boyagoda in the online journal The New Pantagruel demonstrates how truly catastrophic in its consequences has been the relentless politicization of literature over the past twenty-five years. Boyagoda wants to recoup Moby-Dick for the cause of American patriotism, arguing that Melville’s “primary ambition” was “to enable... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Critical Commentary
In his review of the Library of America's collection of early Faulkner novels, David Ulin suggests that in Faulkner's fiction The fixation with time is hardly a modernist sentiment. Rather, it's a classical perspective, in which everything matters and nothing is forgotten or forgiven or redeemed. Yet this is Faulkner's... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Critical Commentary
There are some writers who are, and likely always will be, inextricably linked to the “period” with which their work is associated, and in many cases helped to define. Surely Wordsworth and Keats will always be “Romantic” poets, while Faulkner and Woolf will remain modernists, as the term “modern” has... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Critical Commentary
In an article on "literary realism" in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Scott McLemee contends that, given the sociological and political approach exemplified by the realist writers he discusses, it is surprising that academic critics do not give more attention to them. This is probably true, but, on the other... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Critical Commentary
Dara Horn’s The World to Come begins with these two paragraphs: There used to be many families like the Ziskinds, families where each person always knew that his life was more than his alone. Families like that still exist, but because there are so few of them, they have become... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Critical Commentary
As someone who would probably be associated with promoting the sort of novel being described here, I nevertheless have to say I find Alan Massie's evocation of the "self-enclosed novel" mostly incomprehensible: One may make a distinction between two types of novel: the self-enclosed and the open. . .By the... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Critical Commentary
David Biespiel is convinced that "America’s poets are uniquely qualified to speak openly in the public square among diverse or divisive communities," despite their current "intractable and often disdainful disinterest in participating in the public political arena outside the realm of poetry." Although he assures us he agrees that "a... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Critical Commentary
In his introduction to an issue of Socialism and Democracy devoted to science fiction, editor Victor Wallis endorses those works of SF that embody "the experience incisively identified by Darko Suvin, more than thirty years ago, as cognitive estrangement": Works conceived in this tradition are the ones in which we... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Critical Commentary
This article on the adaptation of Russian "literary classics" to tv concludes: One argument that producers brought forward when defending TV adaptation of classics a few years ago, when the trend had just started, was that teenagers who would have never read a book would at least watch a TV... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Critical Commentary
By now, everyone attuned to the literary news is no doubt aware of Horace Engdahl's comments that "Europe still is the center of the literary world" when it comes to the awarding of the Nobel Prize, that "The U.S. is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Critical Commentary