Sunday, April 29, 2018

Gary Davenport and the McGehee family motto: WHAT THE DEVIL ARE YOU TRYING TO DO TO ME?

That was when Cousin Meriwether in 1876 was about to be buried alive. Why did so many critics try to bury me alive? Well, Gary Davenport did it because I did not believe in the Sacred sacrosanct WORD

Faith-Based Literary Theory, and Ivy League Professors Who Lie about Evidence


My 1984 book was "inimical to the higher values of literary culture that have survived, somehow, from the beginnings of literacy to our Age of Information."

From Gary Davenport in THE SEWANEE REVIEW (Summer 1985)—review of Hershel Parker’s FLAWED TEXTS AND VERBAL ICONS:

Parker properly avers that the view of a text as a verbal icon has persisted even into an age that rejects the New Criticism. This fact should not be surprising: a sense of textual reality is obviously far too universal to be identified with any particular critical movement. This notion endures because of the common realization that the idea of the text is absolutely necessary--even if it is only a necessary fiction--for the study of literature to make sense. Otherwise the object of study be­comes the vague heterogeneous "construct"--comprising all extant ver­sions and parts of a text, together with any stated or presumed "intent" of the author--that comes to occupy the consciousness of the researcher (one can no longer call him a reader). This situation would be highly flattering to the ego of the critic, who thus comes to have the same im­portance for the text that Bishop Berkeley thought God had for the universe. But we do not have to be Luddites to see this view as inimical to the higher values of literary culture that have survived, somehow, from the beginnings of literacy to our Age of Information. This view is pernicious not primarily because it puts literature in the custody of "professionals," but because of the reductive assumption that what lit­erature embodies is an intent which may be grasped through a study of data.

YOU SEE FROM THIS JUST HOW POWERFUL THE "NEW CRITICISM" HAD REMAINED INTO THE 1980S. IT IS STILL JUST AS POWERFUL AS EVER. Read Christophre Benfey's review of the final NN volume in THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS May 10, 2018. No matter if the manuscript evidence shows that Melville died with the manuscript of Billy Budd going two ways (at least 2 ways). No, a critic has to declare the thing perfectly finished and to devote most of a review of the 15 volume final volume to showing that BY GOLLY BY GUM HE CAN READ BILLY BUDD PERFECTLY AS NO ONE HAS EVER DONE BEFORE. A waste, of course, of time which ought to have been devoted to reviewing the book at hand.

You see what Davenport’s theory entails. Agree with Davenpoet and we have to read, say, PUDD’NHEAD WILSON as if it made perfect sense, even when we encounter passages written when Tom Driscoll acts as he does because when the words were written he was all white, even when we encounter passages which made sense when the Italian twins were conjoined but not when they are now not so described in foregoing passages. We have to believe in the verbal icon or chaos is come! Data is evil, and professional scholars who resort to data are to be suppressed, as Davenport suppressed me in 1985.

No comments:

Post a Comment