07 September 2008

Common Reading - book review

Alternative titles for this collection of essays might be The Last Men of Letters, Critics and the Marketplace, or even (to choose the sub-titles of two other Stefan Collini books) Essays in History and Culture or Intellectuals in Britain - because it is largely a study of writers 1920-1960 who earned their living as journalists and critics in the world of literary magazines and journals. It's also a consideration of their readership, how they have been forced to change over the years, and the state of intellectual biography in the twenty-first century. He describes the collection himself as 'exercises in intellectual portraiture [and] the nature of the diverse public for whom these figures wrote, and ... the cultural traditions and institutional frameworks within which they operated'. The first half of the book is a series of literary portraits of critics and what he calls 'public intellectuals' - Cyril Connolly, Edmund Wilson, George Orwell, E.H.Carr, E.P.Thompson, Perry Anderson, and even Roger Scruton... Read more >>


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