After the death of literature by Richard B. Schwartz

By Richard B. Schwartz

Calling Samuel Johnson the best literary critic due to the fact that Aristotle, Richard B. Schwartz assumes the viewpoint of that necessary eighteenth-century guy of letters to envision the severe and theoretical literary advancements that won momentum within the Nineteen Seventies and encouraged the tradition wars of the Nineteen Eighties and 1990s.Schwartz speculates that Johnson—who respected difficult proof, a large cultural base, and customary sense—would have exhibited scant endurance with the seriously educational methods at present preferred within the research of literature. He considers it possible that the warring parties within the early struggles of the tradition wars are wasting strength and that, within the wake of Alvin Kernan’s statement of the demise of literature, new battlegrounds are constructing. paradoxically admiring the orchestration and staging of battles outdated and new—"superb" he calls them—he characterizes the total cultural struggle as a "battle among straw males, rigorously developed by means of the warring parties to maintain a trend of polarization which may be exploited to supply carrying on with specialist advancement."In seven various essays, Schwartz demands either the wide cultural imaginative and prescient and the sanity of a Samuel Johnson from those that make pronouncements approximately literature. operating via and unifying those essays is the conviction that the cultural elite is obviously indifferent from existence: "Academics, fleeing in horror from whatever smacking of the bourgeois, supply us anything a ways worse: bland sameness awarded in elitist phrases within the identify of the poor." one other subject matter is that the either/or absolutism of a few of the warring parties is "absurd on its face [and] belies the complexities of artwork, tradition, and humanity."Like Johnson, Schwartz may terminate the divorce among literature and existence, make allies of literature and feedback, and take away poetry from the province of the collage and go back it to the area of readers. Texts could hold which means, embrace values, and feature a significant influence on existence.

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It must do just things in fresh ways. Essentially, this is a prescription for successful work within established genres, and as a norm it is very much alive and well in those areas of our culture that continue to specialize in genre-driven narrative: principally cinema and television programming. Johnson's demands of art are precisely those of the stereotypical script reader, studio chief, or production company executive, as in Robert Altman's film The Player or Elmore Leonard's novel Get Shorty.

Johnson, as the greatest literary critic since Aristotle, would, I assume, have a number of interesting reflections to offer, some deliciously polemical, some deeply thoughtful and suggestive. It would be interesting, I thought, to observe the culture wars from Johnson's perspective, asking the key questions: what should we read, how should we read it, and why should we read it? However, I believe that the culture warscertainly in their most brash and stereotypical formare by now slowly coming to a close and new developments are emerging.

American-born, English-educated, American oil business executive, then writer? All of the above and more. One of Page 6 the people I see in this tradition is Edward Hopper. What is Hopper? A Nyack, New York, painter or a painter of America? What is Whistler? For that matter, what is the master, Henry James? " My point is that the stereotypical presentation of literary realities is not only inaccurate but also not terribly helpful. It does notfor all its revisionist protestationsmove us forward.

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