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May 8, 2006

OGIC: Critical liberties

An informal catalogue of cardinal critical sins, with fresh and glaring illustrations from some of today's Most Favored Critics, seems to be underway this month. Just yesterday Terry tagged James Wood for devoting a mere ten percent of his prime NYTBR real estate to the new Flaubert biography he was purportedly reviewing there. Commandment the first: You shall not overlook the book under review.

Meanwhile, last week, James Marcus rightfully zapped John Banville for finding Philip Roth's new novel insufficiently, well, Banvillesque:

This is transparently the recipe for a John Banville novel--the infinite nuances, the atomized perceptions--and the biggest boner a critic can commit is the insistence that all writers should do what he does. It's embarrassing.

Thus, Commandment the second: You shall not critique a tulip by wishing it a rose, especially if you grow roses. (Sorry, tulips on the brain these days--they are everywhere, and god bless 'em.) Marcus considers Roth's book on its own aesthetic terms here.

Posted May 8, 2006 12:18 PM

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