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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mayhew Kicks Some Butt

Here is me kicking some ass:
Lorca’s canonical status has often led to rank confusions between life and art, in which trivial external factors acquire disproportionate weight. The tiresome insistence that Bodas de sangre was inspired by a journalistic account of a superficially similar event is one telling example. Closer examination reveals that very few of the most significant elements of Lorca’s play are found in the newspaper story. In the real-life account, the equivalent of Lorca’s Leonardo dies by an un-Lorquian shotgun blast, not by knife wounds, and does not kill the bridegroom in turn. Missing, then, is the symmetrical death of the two young men. There is no family feud, no sense of a tragic inevitability. One of the strongest characters in the play, the bridegroom’s mother, is not even mentioned in the journalistic account. It is inane, then, for the newspapers to report, sixty years later, that the “real bride” of Bodas de sangre has died.
Really, that is my function. Every paragraph should kick some ass.

Of course, that is an easy example, because here I am being directly critical of something. On a deeper level, even a seemingly anodyne paragraph should still kick some ass. It should show other critics how to do it right, kick the reader's ass too. If you are a literary critic, then literary criticism should be what you do best.

1 comment:

Andrew Shields said...

With my academic-writing students, I've been looking at published scholarship (on Jane Austen, since she is the focus of the course). You've given me one way to articulate how disgruntled I am by so much of the scholarship: very little of it "kicks ass" in any way. Every piece has something in it that does, but often it's buried in the andoyne or the incompetent (and that is often a result of the failure to "sweat details").