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Silence of the critics

In the 1960s, literary theory boasted the death of the author. But it was the critic who really died. Who killed him?

By David Herman   December 2002

Whatever happened to literary criticism? Twenty years ago it seemed vibrant, full of excitement. It was where the intellectual energy was. Now, in the words of Martin Amis, it feels “dead and gone.”

In The War Against Clich?, Amis recalls how in the early 1970s, he read literary criticism “all the time, in the tub, on the tube; I always had about me my Edmund Wilson-or my William Empson. I took it seriously. We all did.” Now, reading Amis’s collection of essays and reviews, you will find hardly any references to literary critics, and almost all of these are from…

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