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

Dead Letters Donald Hall


The language of this 'statement', under the title of A New Orthodoxy, is no language. Its verbs are a little anthology of dead metaphor, or what Orwell called 'moribund metaphor': emerged, hardened, fosters, stifles; so are many of its nouns: approaches, area, outlet . . . The rest is cliché: 'To broaden opportunities . . .', 'traditional critical approaches . . .', 'close, critical attention . . .', 'Unthinking rejection of traditional critical approaches.'

Perhaps the new orthodoxy is worse than A New Orthodoxy. But nothing can be accomplished for the good of literature by this unspeakable prose.

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