I ran across a quote from Frederick Crews a few days ago. I can’t find the exact source, but it’s probably from the 90’s. I wondered if it is eerily prophetic, applying not just to lilterary criticism but to the humanities more broadly. When something like this quote comes along, I’m initally torn between saying “but this is blaming the victim” (the humanities, that is) and thinking that we need to be aware of any factors within the control of the professoriate. It may be, though, that there is more detailed and interesting approaches to the issue he is raising.
So what do you think?
If we were to have a good old-fashioned depression or even a long recession, attitudes toward literary questions might start to change. It’s not something that I’d look forward to, but it is clear that literary criticism as it is practiced today is a luxury in the sense that these critics have forgotten the real circumstances under which people live. If there was a large-scale social phenomenon that created pressure from the outside, it’s likely that the whole insulated discourse might disappear.