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The Practice of Reading

Donoghue, Denis

ISBN 10: 0300074662 / ISBN 13: 9780300074666
Published by Yale Univ Pr, Cumberland, Rhode Island, U.S.A., 1998
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Kennedy Books (Jamestown, ND, U.S.A.)

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Fine/Fine unread copy protected by archival Brodart Cover. Size: 8vo - over 7" - 9" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 001257

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Practice of Reading

Publisher: Yale Univ Pr, Cumberland, Rhode Island, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition: Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: First Edition.

About this title


In this text the author argues that we must read texts closely and imaginatively, as opposed to merely or mistakenly theorizing about them. He shows what serious reading entails on discussing texts that range from Shakespeare's plays to a novel by Cormac McCarthy.


In the theoretical Babel of contemporary literary criticism, the art of reading has sometimes found itself lost in the shuffle. This deeply unfashionable book makes a case for once again paying attention to the particulars of literary language. NYU professor Denis Donoghue makes no secret of his critical heroes: Messrs. Leavis, Blackmur, and Burke, among others, though he insists that "The moral of the story is not: Back to the New Criticism." Drawn from a number of essays and lectures that first appeared in other forums, the book is somewhat fractured, and in attacking the worst excesses of identity politics, it also knocks down some straw men. To take just one of the examples Donoghue offers, one need not refuse to read "Leda and the Swan," as one of his students did, in order to ask questions about its central metaphor. To do so is neither to eschew close attention to the poem's language nor to become a crusader for PC dogma.

The Practice of Reading reads best as a love poem to the joys and complexities of literary language, as when Donoghue explicates texts ranging from Shakespeare's Macbeth to Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. These sample readings are unfailingly perceptive, imaginative, and fair, and his depth of reference is impressively broad. Donoghue's brand of aesthetic formalism is an approach just old- fashioned enough to find favor again. In any case, his extraordinarily lucid and elegant prose means that this book deserves an audience far wider than that of contemporary academicians--who are sure to hate it, anyway.

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