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Cold Reading

  • Nicolas Vandeviver
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter discusses Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography in relation to the institutionalized New Criticism, which Said described as a waning formalism. Tracing Said’s line of thought I discuss the institutionalization of the New Criticism and its method of ‘close reading’ to reveal that the movement emerged as a worldly and humanistic formalism that treated literature as an organic whole, and evolved into a dogmatic and dehumanized textual practice of ‘cold reading’ that isolated literature in the postwar period. Then, I analyze how Said’s approach to Conrad reinstates the severed bond between literature and agency by breaking with the New Critical ‘fallacies’, not by refuting them but by returning to the older, more eccentric models of criticism of R.P. Blackmur and Harry Levin.

Keywords

Joseph Conrad New Criticism R.P. Blackmur Formalism Intentional fallacy Affective fallacy 

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicolas Vandeviver
    • 1
  1. 1.Ghent UniversityGentBelgium

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