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Guilty Knowledge, Guilty PleasureThe Dirty Art of Poetry$
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William Logan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231166867

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231166867.001.0001

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The Unbearable Rightness of Criticism

The Unbearable Rightness of Criticism

(p.8) The Unbearable Rightness of Criticism
Guilty Knowledge, Guilty Pleasure

William Logan

Columbia University Press

Critics are judged not by the book they failed to pan, but by the book they failed to praise. Most are certain that, given the chance, they would have recognized the genius of Lyrical Ballads, or Leaves of Grass, or The Waste Land. This chapter urges a reading of critics who got it wrong. Reading the reviews that mistook genius is not simply cold comfort for critics whom taste passed by, or an exercise in antiquarian taste. The critics who got it wrong remind us that poets in whom we now see only virtues once seemed full of vices and that, though we may value those vices differently, sometimes it is their presence that makes the virtues.

Keywords:   critics, criticism, reviews, poetry, poets, prejudice, virtues, vices

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