Literary Criticism

RECENT REVIEWS

Form’s Function

Form’s Function

A FAMILY FEUD opens Caroline Levine’s intelligent new treatise on literary interpretation. In the preface, she describes regularly arguing with her father, an eminent intellectual historian, over h...

Not Only in the Dark

Not Only in the Dark

SOMETIMES I THINK there are two kinds of readers: readers for whom books are bread and coffee, and readers for whom books are magic mushrooms. The bread-and-coffee people prefer to read about real lif...

The Function of Criticism at the Present Time

The Function of Criticism at the Present Time

The following essay is part of the Los Angeles Review of Books special series “No Crisis”: a look at the state of critical thinking and writing — literary interpretation, art history, and cult...

What Is an @uthor?

What Is an @uthor?

Photo: Faulkner at Virginia, © 2010 Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia; Author Stephen Railton.   A SPRING DAY in Charlottesville: William Faulkner, dressed in Harris Twee...

Against Common Sense

Against Common Sense

The following essay is part of the Los Angeles Review of Books special series "No Crisis": a look at the state of critical thinking and writing — literary interpretation, art history, an...

Difficult Love

Difficult Love

The following essay is part of the Los Angeles Review of Books special series "No Crisis": a look at the state of critical thinking and writing — literary interpretation, art history, an...

Uses of Criticism

Uses of Criticism

The following essay is part of the Los Angeles Review of Books special series "No Crisis": a look at the state of critical thinking and writing — literary interpretation, art history, an...

The Virtues of Know-Nothing Criticism

The Virtues of Know-Nothing Criticism

Illustration by Michael Hawthorne.   RECENTLY I WROTE a story about Star Wars and science fiction for The Atlantic. The comments section, as these things will, featured a large number of p...

Racecraft: Stories of Racial Passing

Racecraft: Stories of Racial Passing

THE VERY NOTION of racial “passing” implies a test. Those who believed clear racial categorization was possible might test for race by measuring physical traits to indicate “blood purity”: sli...

On Excess: Susan Sontag’s Born-Digital Archive

On Excess: Susan Sontag’s Born-Digital Archive

1. SUSAN SONTAG'S ESSAY “Against Interpretation” is best known for its concluding pocket-sized maxim: “In place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art.” The setup for that declaration is...

Let Me Remind You

Let Me Remind You

“HAVE YOU read Salinger? Very likely you have,” Joanna Rakoff writes toward the end of her memoir My Salinger Year. Everyone has read Salinger — except for Rakoff, who picked up his books for th...