Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Reader Survey
PN Review Substack

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
Searching, please wait... animated waiting image