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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mimetic Criticism

In my own field I often get irritated by a kind of mimetic criticism which consists in explaining the poet's work according to his or her own explicit poetics. Who wants to hear Wallace Stevens explicated in a kind of Stevensian idiolect? Or José Ángel Valente explained in terms of Valente's own theories? The author can essentially control his or her reception if sh/e develops a critical metalanguage and convinces critics to use it. The critical essay then will sound like a pastiche of the author's work. Boring.

This implies that criticism entails critical distance. You can be in sympathy with the author, but you can't be beholden to a scheme derived from the work itself. Otherwise, what good are you?

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