Criticism | September 01, 1983

The relationship between literary criticism and book reviewing is the focus of the following symposium.

Is this one of those unspoken controversies that continues to bubble along, influencing opinions, decisions, and judgements? Do reviewers suspect that scholar critics are afraid or incapable of making value judgements about any books which aren’t already
safely canonized? Do they believe literary criticism is dull and irrelevant, as self-referential as alchemy? Do critics, on the other hand, see reviewers as merely puff writers or ax grinders, corrupted by the tides of the marketplace? Have the two roles
become mutually exclusive and, if so, why? Is this either a necessary or healthy state of affairs?

Here, some respected scholar/critics and critic/reviewers offer their comments about such questions. We welcome further responses by our readers.

If you are a student, faculty member, or staff member at an institution whose library subscribes to Project Muse, you can read this piece and the full archives of the Missouri Review for free. Check this list to see if your library is a Project Muse subscriber.