Edmundson on Emerson

April 20, 2009 § Leave a comment

The critic Mark Edmundson, in a recent article from the Chronicle, once again turning to Emerson (cf. his book Why Read?)–and notice also the appearance of Whitman, in relation to Emerson. This idea of a literary education, of a way to read a writer in the manner of the writer, I think does get Emerson right. To a point. But then, of course, one must resist the influence of the writer being read. In any case, I suggest we see here evidence of how Emerson and Whitman live on into questions of how we should read, of the need for a literary education; but also, of a desire to have that not be narrowly defined. A kind of literary against itself. Like Whitman on Emersonianism: breeding self-slaying giants.

Mark Edmundson, Against Readings.

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