The Search for William Troy

William Troy was, says the editor of the only book of his collected lectures and essays, a towering critic of the 30s, 40s and 50s. He wrote many book and film reviews for The Nation, but no books of his own.

I’m reading the collection William Troy: Selected Essays slowly. It’s long out of print but very gettable. His style is expert and delightful. He’s fighting, at this point of history, for literature to be enjoyed and interpreted as art, rather than subjected to the sorts of inappropriate scientific methods that have since subjugated the critical appreciation of the creative arts to some mad quest to view everything within the context of the social and economic sciences, if not even to physics and chemistry.

You Can Find This on Abe Books!

Here he is on the growing popularity of Henry James:

“At a moment where loss of continuity is our gravest threat, when personality is everywhere at a discount, when all consequent values dissolve in general terror, it is probably no great wonder that more and more people are turning to Henry James.”

Troy celebrates clarity in art and it’s darned refreshing.

Je Suis Charlie, Redux

Yesterday, Flatiron cancelled the remaining 35 appearances of a 40 city book tour for American Dirt author Jeanine Cummins. Cummins will return to the road later to conduct a series of town halls. What I find worrisome is that Flatiron cites threats made against the author and booksellers for motivating its decision. Publishers Weekly also reports that critics of the novel have received threats and been harassed as well.

It seems there are thugs and extremists on all sides of the issue and while I will not give them moral equivalence, I think that any threat of violence around the publication or sale of a book is just a short step away from the fanaticism that motivated the Charlie Hebdo massacre in 2015.

We should be having heated, passionate and sometimes even impolite fights over fiction, but violence should never enter into it.

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