Geoffrey H. Hartman Denis Donoghue - Essay

Denis Donoghue

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

"Criticism in the Wilderness" is concerned with many of the same questions that troubled its predecessors, but it differs from them in one respect: to a well-defined problem it suggests a bizarre solution.

The problem is: What good is literary criticism in a time of mass education? The normal answer is that a critic can show what it means to read well; to read a poem or a novel, for instance, in such a spirit as to make the reading a valid experience, valid in intellectual, emotional and moral terms. When we read a work of art, we study the human imagination as a form of freedom: We think of the imagination as the mind in the aspect of its freedom. If the literary critic is employed to teach in a...

(The entire section is 809 words.)