June 17, 2009



It's interesting how Wood, in his response to Kirn's charges of snobbery, responds with...snobbery.

"Alas he revealed much more about his own social anxieties than he did about my criticism."

I'm sure he did.


I see how that's a stab at Kirn, but I don't see how that's snobbery.


It's snobbery because Wood is attributing Kirn's criticism of him to feelings of social inferiority. Which is straight up snobbery, of the veddy English variety.


Oh, I see your point, but I don't equate "social anxieties" with feelings of inferiority. It seems like one can antipathy for a certain type of individual found in other social classes, particularly a snotty pretentious aesthete, without feeling expressly inferior. But, yes, you are probably right in this context...


I read the interview in the LA Weekly, and dug up Kirn's rather hysterical review of "How Fiction Works", and I was struck by a central point of contention that hasn't gotten a lot of attention (at least, based on my narrow reading list). It's important to note how often Wood stresses that his critical perspective is informed by European literature as such, not just English literature. He is constantly pointing out how influenced he is by the French and by the Russian formalists (without ever actually appealing very much to their critical techniques, but that's another matter).

Yet his critics are always hammering away at his Britishness, ignoring his claims to represent any broader tradition of literary criticism. It's also interesting to note the nativism of many of his critics, how they propose against Wood the most American of American critics (i.e., New Yorkers, of course!).

I'm not sure what this means, except to say it shows that American writers have lost touch with European literary criticism that isn't in English, and that this has somehow turned into quite a bitch fight based primarily on anti-colonialist rhetoric that I thought died out in the 1820s.

But that's progress for you.


thank you for the libraries, Mark (and Paul, whoever you are). Wow. Wow.


The libraries are amazing. The Peabody in Baltimore is a favorite stop whenever we have visitors. The wrought iron and layered stack make it a jaw-dropping sight.
(The Enoch Pratt ain't too shabby, either.)


One of the things I love about travelling is stumbling on these gems of places. My first will always be my fave: Bilblioteca Riccardiani in Florence, Italy. And seeing that website, I see there must be hundreds to discover.

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