Crit­ics, Mon­sters, Fanat­ics, and Oth­er Lit­er­ary Essays

  • From the Publisher
June 29, 2016

In a col­lec­tion that includes new essays writ­ten explic­it­ly for this vol­ume, one of our sharpest and most influ­en­tial crit­ics con­fronts the past, present, and future of lit­er­ary culture.

If every out­let for book crit­i­cism sud­den­ly dis­ap­peared — if all we had were reviews that treat­ed books like any oth­er com­mod­i­ty — could the nov­el sur­vive? In a gaunt­let-throw­ing essay at the start of this bril­liant assem­blage, Cyn­thia Ozick stakes the claim that, just as sure­ly as crit­ics require a steady sup­ply of new fic­tion, nov­el­ists need great crit­ics to build a vibrant com­mu­ni­ty on the foun­da­tion of lit­er­ary his­to­ry. For decades, Ozick her­self has been one of our great crit­ics, as these essays so clear­ly dis­play. She offers mod­els of crit­i­cal analy­sis of writ­ers from the mid-twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry to today, from Saul Bel­low, Bernard Mala­mud, and Kaf­ka, to William Gass and Mar­tin Amis, all assem­bled in provoca­tive­ly named groups: Fanat­ics, Mon­sters, Fig­ures, and oth­ers. Uncom­pro­mis­ing and brim­ming with insight, these essays are essen­tial read­ing for any­one fac­ing the future of lit­er­a­ture in the dig­i­tal age.

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