Philip Rahv Denis Donoghue - Essay

Denis Donoghue

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Experience is Rahv's word; it turns up on virtually every page of [Essays on Literature and Politics 1932–1972]. Sometimes he uses it to mean everything in life that the mind should encounter not by chance but by purpose and an intuitive sense of what it needs. So he speaks of "a dichotomy between experience and consciousness" as the typical American disability. But sometimes he uses it to mean 'felt life' rather than 'life's total practice,' and in that sense it is hard to see that there could be a dichotomy between experience and consciousness. I can only explain this ambivalence by saying that to Rahv experience was the grander term and that while he revered consciousness and was stirred by ideas, he knew...

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