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This item is taken from PN Review 48, Volume 12 Number 4, March - April 1986.

A New Orthodoxy
The alternative approaches to literature that have emerged in recent years have now hardened into a new othodoxy. This has the following features:

1 It forbids discrimination among literary texts.

2 It ignores the case for literature as a dictinctive area of imagination experience and activity.

3 It neglects the work of contemporary poets, novelists and dramatists.

4 It sanctions, by its unjustified insistence that language constructs reality and the individual subject, the contemptuous dismissals of versions of reality - and individual subjects - that challenge its hegemony.

5 It entails the unthinking rejection of traditional critical approaches.

6 It uses literary criticism to gratify, in fantasy, revolutionary desires.

7 It fosters a self-righteous sectarianism that stifles the enjoyment and disciplined exploration of literature.


This orthodoxy must be challenged. Thes tasks are imperative:

1 To continue to discriminate, with vigour, among literary texts.

2 To keep alive the concept of literature as a distinctive area of imaginative experience and activity.

3 To give close, critical attention to the work of contemporary writers.

4 To challenge the dominant notion that language constructs reality and the subject by bringing to bear the alternative philosophical, psychological and linguistic perspectives.

5 To ensure that traditional critical approaches remain active and available.

6 To expose the absurdity of using literary criticism as an outlet for political frustrations.

7 To broaden opportunities for the enjoyment and disciplined exploration of literature.

Nicholas Tredell Contributing Editor
Michael Schmidt Editor

This item is taken from PN Review 48, Volume 12 Number 4, March - April 1986.



Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to editor@pnreview.co.uk
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