Wednesday, October 29, 2008

James Wood on Literary Criticism

Michael Silverblatt interviews literary critic James Wood on the most recent podcast of Bookworm.

The interview discusses Wood’s recent book, How Fiction Works,which is a slim primer on the art of fiction. I haven’t yet read the book, but I enjoyed the interview, particularly this comment distinguishing literary criticism from other forms of criticism:
I do think … the great joy of the literary critic, one distinct from the other critics, is that we use the medium that we’re writing about. We don’t have that necessary muffling that goes on if we were writing about art or about music. We’re in the medium, so it seems to me there’s a burden placed on the literary critic to ceaselessly enact a kind of difficult parallelism. I think [Henry] James talks about the critic as being heroically vicarious. … You’re sidling up to the text in its own fluid. You are trying to do something with language that honors the language you’re talking about and that has its own animate life.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I'll be interested to listen to this interview, so thanks for the link!

I read How fiction works earlier this year and would recommend it. I particularly enjoyed the discussion of Flaubert and Henry James, who are two of my favourite authors.