‘Literary criticism, to survive, must abandon the universities, where “cultural criticism” is a triumphant beast not to be expelled. The anatomies issuing from the academies concern themselves with the intricate secrets of Victorian women’s underwear and the narrative histories of the female bosom. Critical reading, the discipline of how to read and why, will survive in those solitary scholars, out in society, whose single candles Emerson prophesied and Wallace Stevens celebrated’.
– Harold Bloom, from the ‘Foreword’ to Northrop Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays.
[Image from The Paris Review]
‘The university exists only by virtue of a faith that human beings are worthy of special attention; that the development of the human intellect is an end in itself; that the exercise of memory and reason is not a perversion of the nervous system; and that the scholar is somehow superior to the fool—all of them propositions that admit of no scientific proof; propositions that must, in fact, be maintained despite clear and cogent evidence that untroubled happiness is reserved for morons’. – Willmoore Kendall, from a speech at Harvard about disturbing trends in academic culture. Cited in Robert L. Paquette, ‘The world we have lost: a parable on the academy’, The New Criterion 26 (May 2008), 19.