On Nonfiction

“A Congealed Nebulosity”

Reading Geoffrey Hill’s Collected Critical Writings feels a lot like what it might to step into a graduate seminar in 19th and 20th century poetry without having taken the prerequisite courses, or…

Ellipses and Trust: Stephen Burt’s Close Calls with Nonsense

In the preface to this collection of essays and reviews, Stephen Burt describes the “business of critics”: it is “not to assign stars, or to pick winners in poet vs….

Medium Heat: The Essays of Leonard Michaels

Wine enthusiasts and literary critics share a vocabulary on all too many occasions: scintillating, tasteful, nuanced, and so forth. From time to time, though, one comes across an author who…

Nostalgia on the Bookshelf

It is impossible to talk about books, nowadays; to talk about books without nostalgia creeping into the discourse; though perhaps, to speak the lingo, perhaps ‘twas always so. Whether the…

Writing by Degrees: the Program Era

Just as Hugh Kenner’s formidable 1973 classic The Pound Era traces innovations in literature between the world wars by following the literary juggernaut Ezra Pound, Mark McGurl takes the period after World…

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