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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Today I saw Baudelaire’s line “Hypcocrite lecteur, mon semblable, mon frère” quoted as “Mon hypocrite lecteur, mon frère, mon semblable.” Also, Mallarmé’s “Un coup de dés” cited as a “sonnet.” WTF? These examples from critics I respect (otherwise). It show that none of us is immune from boneheaded mistakes. As though Baudelaire would put an extra syllable in his alexandrine!

A critic I know credited another professor (also a friend of mine) in her book for telling her that that line came from Baudelaire and was also in the Waste Land. Well yeah. I would be too embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know that. Come on. Why should the reader give credence to a scholar who has to be told that? I admire the lack of ego, in a way. Thanks to Professor Y who told me that Nevada was east of California. The impulse to acknowledge help is a good one, but you cannot undermine your own authority past a certain point.

1 comment:

Leslie said...

Citing scholarship for what is in encyclopedias.

"X.Y. points out that Z. was a 19th century poet who...."

Although maybe that is just a composition problem. "X.Y. points out that Z., the 19th century poet,..."

I shouldn't complain because we are supposed to not be perfectionistic and crank it out. When these things come out in print I should not cringe, I should say good for them for at least putting the substance of what they have to say before us.