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I remember when I was a young academic and I thought it would be good to talk about William Carlos Williams at the MLA at some point, but ev...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Absence of Flaws or Presence of Virtues

You could evaluate a piece of prose by making sure it didn't have any flaws: obscurity, grammatical or syntactic errors, rough transitions, verbosity...

Or you could look at it from the opposite direction. Maybe there's nothing wrong with it, but does it possess positive virtues? Is it elegant, forceful, dazzling? It won't get there simply by a process of eliminating what's wrong.

Like many poems I read that have nothing wrong with them--but are totally undeserving of any praise.

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