Saturday, August 2, 2008

When Lit-Crit Mattered

By JAMES SEATON

It may be hard to imagine -- given our current obsessions with television shows, movies, instant-messaging, Facebook and blogs -- but literature was once at the center of American cultural life. In the middle of the 20th century, novels and poems, of varying quality and aspiration, were widely read and widely talked about. And literary merit was discussed and hotly debated by critics whose essays, in Garrick Davis's words, "courted the educated public with their elegant prose."

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