Death of the Critic  -     By: Ronan McDonald
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Death of the Critic

Continuum International / 2007 / Hardcover

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Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 224
Vendor: Continuum International
Publication Date: 2007
Dimensions: 7.75 X 5 (inches)
ISBN: 0826492797
ISBN-13: 9780826492791
Availability: Expected to ship on or about 07/28/16.

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Publisher's Description


The critic has long been a reviled figure, at best the mere handmaiden of the "creative" arts, at worst a parasite upon them. For Brendan Behan, critics are like eunuchs in a harem. They know how it is done. They have seen it done every day.

But they are unable to do it themselves. In an age of book clubs, celebrity endorsements and bloggers, what role is there now for the professional critic as an arbiter of artistic value? Are literature and the arts merely a question of personal taste? Is one opinion "as good as another"? Rónán McDonald's The Death of the Critic seeks to defend the role of the public critic. He argues against recent claims that all artistic value is simply relative and subjective. This forceful, accessible and eloquent book considers why high profile, public critics such as William E mpson, F.R. Leavis or Lionel Trilling, become much rarer in the later twentieth century. Alert to the cultural and academic climate of both the UK and the USA, this controversial and timely intervention will engage scholars, students, critics and anyone concerned with the role of literary and artistic culture in the public sphere.

Publisher's Weekly

McDonald argues that crowing blog-based citizen opinionistas, triumphant over shrinking print media coverage of books are simply kicking a dead horse; the lit critic, it seems, was killed already by the an out-of-control sense of cultural relativism, which has over the 20th century wormed its way into literature programs, engendering artistic and aesthetic relativism. McDonald contends that the idea of artistic expression’s equanimity, and the subsequent equanimity of opinion regarding that expression, has marginalized the important and difficult work of honestly evaluating artistic worth. Emphasizing literature, his specialty, McDonald illustrates how trendy efforts to make art more scientific, more academic or more cultural ultimately undermine its role as art, making it more difficult (if not impossible) to consider with the language of art. McDonald illustrates how specific movements—including romanticism, fin-de-siecle and radical aesthetic individualism—have obscured and in some cases removed entirely those traditional standards of value. A daring, but fitting, comparison between aesthetics and ethics shows how standards may be relative but are never irrelevant; McDonald’s cogent, largely convincing attempt to pin the critic’s murder on relativism is sure to raise eyebrows among academics, though it doesn’t do much to instill hope of the critic’s resurrection. (Dec.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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