What aims, claims, and conceptions justify the importance we ascribe to “English”'? We need to be able to answer.
—F. R. Leavis

The Renewal of Literature: Emersonian Reflections is another demonstration—alongside The Comic Sense of Henry James, A World Elsewhere, and The Performing Self—of how sensitive a reader of local texts Richard Poirier can be.[1] Whoever takes the trouble to read this new book, which ruminates on a variety of current topics in criticism, will be struck with how ingeniously he can elicit from a Stevens poem or a passage in George Eliot the inarticulate struggle that underlies the creation of the form of the work as we have it. But in the present instance, Mr. Poirier, a professor at Rutgers, is after larger game. What holds his six...


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