Wednesday, June 5, 2013

On the make-believe in criticism

For long, there has been no literary conscience at work anywhere in literary-world engagements in criticism.  The literary conscience has withered away with a weakening of the linguistic conscience in all fields of literary activity into an automatism of verbal skill and fluency.  In the very production of literary works, reliance on this automatism has been converting literary writing into make-believe literary writing: the writing is linguistically unreal, a manufacture of literary writing.  Literary criticism, on which lies a responsibility of protective vigilance against the corruption of standards of verbal and stylistic literary integrity, has let itself be swept into this condition of unreality - of unrealness as what it is by name.  There has been substituted for literary criticism an intellectualism of synthetic learnedness. 

-- Laura (Riding) Jackson, "Make Believe Criticism," in The Person I Am: The Literary Memoirs of Laura (Riding) Jackson, ed. by John Nolan and Carroll Ann Friedmann