Geoffrey H. Hartman Terrence Des Pres - Essay

Terrence Des Pres

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Criticism in the Wilderness may be the best, most brilliant, most broadly useful book yet written by an American about the sudden swerve from the safety of established decorum toward bravely theoretical, mainly European forms of literary criticism. There are, however, immediate reasons why this book, when you first take it up, will disturb and put you off. Professor Hartman's style, for example, is always elegant but relies deliberately on puns, allusions, jumbled language levels, wild quoting, moments of self-parody and splashes of arcane terminology. Hartman also moves back and forth at lightning speed from thinker to thinker, leaping prodigiously from one incisive insight to the next. And the book's basic...

(The entire section is 672 words.)