“Think, for example, of Northrop Frye. Frye’s is now a name that you never hear mentioned but which was then everywhere. CS Lewis, who is now famous for fairy stories, was then famous for being a scholar. Tolkien too was famous for being a scholar, not for elves and so on. There is no prestige associated any longer with being a good critic. There are people writing now who seem to me likely to be as good as those critics I’ve been mentioning but they won’t be as famous nor as influential. There’s some very good scholarship in the subject still going on. There’s also an immense amount of rubbish.”
– Frank Kermode
The picks of the week from around the web.
Crumb! This week saw the continuation, but also the possible cessation (?), or roundtable on Crumb’s Genesis over at HU. Last at bat was Peter Sattler with a great essay on the ‘literalism’ of Crumb’s approach. In addition to that, Tim Hodler linked to film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum’s fine piece on Terry Zwigoff’s Crumb documentary, as well as a recent piece he has written for its reissue in the Criterion series. All worth reading for people interested in Crumb!
Re: the “Ground Zero Mosque” shitstorm, Justin Elliott examines how an innocuous and initially uncontroversial news story developed into the ridiculous media circus we are now witnessing. And former FBI agent Ali Soufan expresses his exasperation.
Frank Kermode RIP. The passing of the great critic found me reading this short 2006 interview, in which he talks about the evolution of criticism and its reception over the course of his career.