The Critic, The Reviewer, and Reader-Response

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Lace or Steel

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Judgment and the Marketplace

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In Defense of the "Good Read"

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Cleaning the Tools

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Varieties of Book-Mediation

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Symposium: The Role of the Critic / The Role of the Reviewer

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.

The Morality of Conrad's Imagination

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In a letter written as he was beginning Lord Jim, Conrad describes the problem of discerning and firmly holding the values by which life may be lived, and his remarks identify an issue central to the reading and criticism of his works: the difficulty of defining Conrad’s values.

The Composition of The Sound and the Fury

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William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury has been, during the last fifty years, one of the most widely discussed American novels.  Critics have made numerous efforts to define its meaning and have found innumerable things to say about its structure.

Responses to Frederick Turner

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The following is a synopsis of and responses to Frederick Turner’s article ” ‘Mighty Poets in their Misery Dead’ : A polemic on the Contemporary Poetic Scene,” which appeared in the Fall, 1980 issue of  The Missouri Review.