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The critical point

Literary criticism is seldom of use to the common reader. This collection from one of the best of the younger critics is an exception, but not without its flaws.

By Nicolas Walter   March 1999

The work of literary critics may do something for university students and other literary critics, but it seldom does much for creative writers or common readers. Criticism, whether in the form of short reviews just after publication or longer analysis later, is one of the main obstacles to the production and appreciation of good books. Yet there are exceptions, when criticism genuinely illuminates literature and may even become literature itself. The initial test usually comes when the first collection of periodical articles is published as a book-and most would-be critics fail at this stage.

After a decade as a reviewer,…

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