Critical Linking: October 29, 2012


“The second, more sensitive response welcomes a realist appraisal of people steeped in Theory. James Wood, praising Teju Cole’s Open City in the New Yorker, singled out Cole’s ability to show deep reading in critical theory (Barthes, Benjamin, Said, Deleuze, de Man, and more) as ‘simply and naturally part of the whole context of a person.'”

It’s not the people who talk about how much they love their girlfriends who love their girlfriends the most.


James’s second letter is still to “Dear Mrs. Wharton,” but it talks hopefully of a personal meeting: “I seem to have the vision of our threshing out together, if chance only favoured, much golden grain.” 

I try not to lament the de-formalization of interpersonal communication, but dammit: I’d love to write and read letters like those Wharton and James wrote each other.


Look past the frilly dresses, blue-and-white china, and all that “Will they finally kiss?” nonsense.

I think guys, heck, all readers, should take Austen seriously, but ignoring the domestic elements does her, and her potential readers, a disservice. Perhaps we should note that we have our own dresses and blue-and-white china to obsess over, though we call them “condos” and “vintage dresses” and “iPhone 5s.”


But I also demand, and believe that all readers should demand, the high quality that book publishers have always offered to their customers.

While typos are not a proxy for quality, they sure are a coal-blackened canary.

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