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The Critical PulseThirty-Six Credos by Contemporary Critics$
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Jeffrey Williams and Heather Steffen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231161152

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231161152.001.0001

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Wrestling with the Angel

Wrestling with the Angel

A Modest Critical Credo

(p.188) 26 Wrestling with the Angel
The Critical Pulse

Morris Dickstein

Columbia University Press

This chapter presents the author's thoughts about criticism. He says that the best vehicle for criticism is not the extended monograph or the hastily written review but the literary essay, personal, reflective, attuned to an ongoing conversation. He considers the work of criticism as a juggling act, a discourse without clear borders. The critic must play the role of a double agent, balancing text and context, a sensitive grasp of form along with the social currents that help shape art. He also calls attention to the democratization of criticism represented by customer reviews of books and films on the Internet. Critical judgment increasingly resembles what we find on websites where hotels and restaurants are usefully rated by people impelled to write in or sound off. Criticism becomes a form of polling, in which we look for enlightenment from the man in the street.

Keywords:   literary critics, academic criticism, literary essay, critical judgment

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