A World of Speculation

Writing in the London Review of Books, James Wood takes a pen to this question in his review of The Oxford English Literary History, Vol. XII: 1960-2000: The Last of England? by Randall Stevenson:

This absence of a general, non-academic literary criticism is the speaking void which tells us that writers, though apparently closer than ever to academics, are actually miles from them. The void is the public space that might have been. Many contemporary writers are familiar with the procedures of post-structuralism and deconstruction. They can talk about decentred texts and self-reflexive narration; they acknowledge that a text has an unconscious, and that it can be read against the grain of its author’s apparent intentions. They see that Eminem’s lyrics might be a ‘text’ in the way that Middlemarch is a text. They are often keener than many scholars to open up the canon. But they diverge from most academic critics, theoretical or otherwise, in two massive areas: intention and value.

Wood does a good job of providing the kind of writing he wishes there were more of.