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The Use and Abuse of Literature by Marjorie…
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The Use and Abuse of Literature

by Marjorie Garber

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» See also 6 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
An intelligent and chatty re-examination of the basics, predicated on the idea that a canon of Western literature both exists and is necessary while avoiding the cranky horribleness of someone like Harold Bloom. Yes, "canon" gets its own chapter, but just look at the writers and works that appear over and over as examples. Encourages conversation, calm disagreement, exploration, discussing things like a rational person, etc.

Accessible, enjoyable, useful... and a surprisingly good beach read :) ( )
  amelish | Sep 12, 2013 |
I'm the wrong audience for this writer.
  Dale_Riechers | Sep 28, 2012 |
Serious scholarship, and sometimes heavy, but it makes me want to read more about literary criticism. ( )
  francesanngray | Sep 27, 2012 |
(Pardon me, but I am going to take my review of How to Read Novels Like a Professor and plug in the title of this book and create my review of this book. It rarely happens but this book made me feel exactly like HTRNLP, so I have simply duplicated and slightly revised this review for UAL.)

I love books. You know that about me. But what probably you don’t know is that there are some books that I don’t like, some books I actually hate. Yes, it’s true. I hate textbooks.

I loathe textbooks. I hate the pompous, condescending tone of textbooks. I hate the know-it-all attitude of textbooks. I hate the way textbooks act like they don’t have to try to be well-written; textbooks know people will be read them anyway because people are forced to read them. I hate textbooks.

So I will say, sadly, that I found this book to be a textbook. I felt used and abused while reading this book. This book is a case of the abuse of literature, in my view. In any case, I was bored to death reading this book and that’s a shame. ( )
  debnance | Jul 30, 2011 |
Marjorie Garber, justifiably celebrated for both her erudition and accessibility, has written a kind of meandering history of the idea (and practice) of literature and the literary. While not as innately pleasurable to read as her most famous book, "Shakespeare After All," "The Use and Abuse of Literature" is, nonetheless, informative and oddly captivating. I say "oddly" because there is a distinctively disjointed, discursive quality to the writing itself; too, her arguments, such as they are, are elusive and intentionally untethered from definitive conclusions. Fortunately, the take-away is an expanded, more inclusive (and less judgmental) view of literature than has been offered by other academics and literary critics. Her goal seems to be more pedagogic than activist, which makes it a refreshing and welcome addition to a genre rife with polemics and political score-settling. This book is the opposite of the hateful nonsense produced by charlatans like Allan Bloom. ( )
1 vote Narboink | Apr 14, 2011 |
Showing 5 of 5
Marjorie Garber's new book brought me back to my days as an English professor; I thought I was reading a freshman essay. My marginal comments might as well have been written in red: "What is the point of this paragraph?" "Where are we in the argument—and what exactly is the argument?" "Sloppy thinking." "You need to unpack this." "Again, is there a point here, or just a mass of notes?" "You have to develop your thesis, not just keep reiterating it." The Use and Abuse of Literature purports to be a rallying cry for serious reading by a decorated and prolific Harvard professor, but once you pick your way through its heap of critical detritus—its mildewed commonplaces and shot-springed arguments, its half-chewed digressions and butt ends of academic cliché—you uncover underneath it all a single dubious and self-serving claim: that the central actor in the literary process is, what do you know, the English professor.
added by Shortride | editSlate, William Deresiewicz (Apr 4, 2011)
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375424342, Hardcover)

As defining as Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism, Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, and Dinesh D’Souza’s Illiberal Education were to the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, respectively, Marjorie Garber’s The Use and Abuse of Literature is to our times.
 
Even as the decline of the reading of literature, as argued by the National Endowment for the Arts, proceeds in our culture, Garber (“One of the most powerful women in the academic world”—The New York Times) gives us a deep and engaging meditation on the usefulness and uselessness of literature in the digital age. What is literature, anyway? How has it been understood over time, and what is its relevance for us today? Who are its gatekeepers? Is its canonicity fixed? Why has literature been on the defensive since Plato? Does it have any use at all, or does it merely serve as an aristocratic or bourgeois accoutrement attesting to worldly sophistication and refinement of spirit?  Is it, as most of us assume, good to read literature, much less study it—and what does either mean?
 
The Use and Abuse of Literature is a tour de force about our culture in crisis that is extraordinary for its brio, panache, and erudition (and appreciation of popular culture) lightly carried. Garber’s winning aim is to reclaim literature from the margins of our personal, educational, and professional lives and restore it to the center, as a fierce, radical way of thinking.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:28 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Even as the decline of the reading of literature, as argued by the National Endowment for the Arts, proceeds in our culture, the author, gives us a meditation on the usefulness and uselessness of literature in the digital age. What is literature, anyway? How has it been understood over time, and what is its relevance for us today? Who are its gatekeepers? Is its canonicity fixed? Why has literature been on the defensive since Plato? Does it have any use at all, or does it merely serve as an aristocratic or bourgeois accoutrement attesting to worldly sophistication and refinement of spirit? Is it, as most of us assume, good to read literature, much less study it, and what does either mean? This is a book about our culture in crisis, as well as an appreciation of popular culture. The winning aim is to reclaim literature from the margins of our personal, educational, and professional lives and restore it to the center, as a fierce, radical way of thinking.… (more)

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