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No More Whining

Frank Lentricchia, 3 April 1997

... The Los Angeles Police Department has framed a guilty man.’ Among the jokes spawned by the trials of O.J. Simpson, that one may tell the most truth. The man in question had been a famous athlete who became – thanks to a delightful, long-running TV commercial – white America’s black teddy bear. How cuddly he was, how handsome and rich. He flashed a smile of infinite reassurance; spoke standard American English with a standard American accent ...

Islas Malvinas

Frank Lentricchia, 1 April 1999

... As we grow older,’ Lucchesi says at sixty, alone, at his desk, ‘we grow more extremely ourselves. Contact depresses us; conversation debilitates.’ Words spoken with forced eloquence, like a bad classical actor in an old movie. And yet, except for hiding himself behind collective pronouns, Lucchesi spoke sincerely. Forced eloquence had long since become second nature to him, there in his cramped writing room, where the writing no longer comes, and where he now makes desperate calls at all hours, to contact those he’d barely known in his early schooldays, and hasn’t seen since ...

Lucchesi: His Life in Art

Frank Lentricchia: Four Fictions, 12 November 1998

... Motion Sickness A recessed bachelor, living with his parents in the great American heartland, seeing no one but family. He alone, Thomas Lucchesi, the relentless reader and rumoured writer among them, would journey beyond his small city’s environs, often to distant and remote parts of the country, but only to succour dying friends – chums he’d not seen since college days, who had long since been cultivated by the intimate revelations of his correspondence ...

Who can blame him?

Frank Kermode, 5 April 1990

Critical Terms for Literary Study 
edited by Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin.
Chicago, 369 pp., £35.95, March 1990, 0 226 47201 9
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The Ideology of the Aesthetic 
by Terry Eagleton.
Blackwell, 426 pp., £35, February 1990, 0 631 16302 6
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... Geertz was partly responsible for the shift. But Fish, in a bold essay on rhetoric included in the Lentricchia-McLaughlin volume, qualifies Geertz’s remark: ‘something,’ he adds, ‘is always happening to the way we think.’ For he doesn’t quite agree with people who claim to have overthrown ‘the rival epistemology’, wiped out ...

Saved for Jazz

David Trotter, 5 October 1995

Modernist Quartet 
by Frank Lentricchia.
Cambridge, 305 pp., £35, November 1994, 0 521 47004 8
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... There are some curious aspects to Frank Lentricchia’s study of four Modernist poets: T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Ezra Pound and Wallace Stevens. For a start, it’s a book about poets which doesn’t seem much interested in poems. Lentricchia has written a lengthy chapter on each member of his quartet ...

Absent Authors

John Lanchester, 15 October 1987

Criticism in Society 
by Imre Salusinszky.
Methuen, 244 pp., £15, May 1987, 0 416 92270 8
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by Malcolm Bradbury.
Deutsch, 104 pp., £5.95, September 1987, 0 233 98020 2
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... and one sympathiser (Geoffrey Hartman), two politically-minded oppositional critics (Edward Said, Frank Lentricchia) and two unclassifiable individualists (Harold Bloom, Frank Kermode). The ninth interviewee is the daddy of academic critics, the man with whom ‘we enter the critical modern age, the era of the total ...

Hayden White and History

Stephen Bann, 17 September 1987

The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation 
by Hayden White.
Johns Hopkins, 248 pp., £20.80, May 1987, 0 8018 2937 2
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Post-Structuralism and the Question of History 
edited by Derek Attridge, Geoff Bennington and Robert Young.
Cambridge, 292 pp., £27.50, February 1987, 0 521 32759 8
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... the avoidance of historical issues; Foucault is prised apart from Derrida despite the efforts of Frank Lentricchia to assimilate them to one another in their ‘understanding of history’. In fact, the message of most of the contributors is unequivocal. Not only is it wrong to accuse Derrida of being (as Terry Eagleton puts it) ‘grossly ...

Bloom’s Giant Forms

Mark Edmundson, 1 June 1989

Ruin the sacred truths: Poetry and Belief from the Bible to the Present 
by Harold Bloom.
Harvard, 204 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 674 78027 2
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Harold Bloom: Towards Historical Rhetorics 
by Peter de Bolla.
Routledge, 155 pp., £25, October 1988, 0 415 00899 9
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... his spirited discussion of the literary critical scene in America, After the New Criticism (1980), Frank Lentricchia, while acknowledging Bloom’s achievements, castigated him for his ‘retrograde and anti-intellectual’ wish ‘to be an original theorist’. Lentricchia himself favours a criticism with collective ...

Oh my oh my oh my

John Lanchester, 12 September 1991

Mao II 
by Don DeLillo.
Cape, 239 pp., £13.99, September 1991, 9780224031523
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Introducing Don DeLillo 
edited by Frank Lentricchia.
Duke, 221 pp., £28, September 1991, 0 8223 1135 6
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... In this century there has been, running alongside the motif of the writer as drunk, another motif of the writer as anchorite, as recluse, as invisible man, as absconder from celebrity. The tradition, whose great precursor and prefigurer is Rimbaud, includes such star incogniti as Baron Corvo and B. Traven, but has perhaps never flourished anywhere quite as much as it is flourishing in the United States at the moment, where the reputations of celebrity hermits such as Salinger and Brodkey swell inexorably with every book they fail to publish ...

Nutty Professors

Hal Foster: ‘Lingua Franca’, 8 May 2003

Quick Studies: The Best of ‘Lingua Franca’ 
edited by Alexander Star.
Farrar, Straus, 514 pp., $18, September 2002, 0 374 52863 2
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... think: ‘With friends like these who needs Neo-Conservatives?’ One is a 1996 mea culpa by Frank Lentricchia, ‘the Dirty Harry of literary theory’ (the cover again), who here castigates the kind of ideology critique that he once championed. The piece fits the genre of the academic confessional (a subgenre of the memoir once cornered by his ...

Scholarship and its Affiliations

Wendy Steiner, 30 March 1989

... entails a deliberate splitting of art from political events: an ‘irrationalist fatalism’, as Frank Lentricchia would have it; or, for Terry Eagleton, a covert polemic against Marxism. And scholars whose entire orientation proceeds from Heidegger’s or de Man’s writing are forced to explain how a person can be both theoretically compelling and ...


Kevin Kopelson: Confessions of a Plagiarist, 22 May 2008

... I do much more in Sedaris than quote Sedaris, much more than simply ‘rhapsodise’ (to quote Frank Lentricchia). I analyse the man. I synthesise him. I provide what both Marxists and Freudians call ‘symptomatic readings’. But beyond that, beyond what all literary critics (including Lentricchia) are supposed to ...

Wild, Fierce Yale

Geoffrey Hartman, 21 October 1982

Deconstruction: Theory and Practice 
by Christopher Norris.
Methuen, 157 pp., £6.50, April 1982, 0 416 32060 0
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... on its own linguistic and figural character. Norris’s book is therefore a great advance on Frank Lentricchia, whose After the New Criticism depicts the Yale critics as camp-followers of changing philosophical fashions. Norris describes an independent and difficult search, which is attracted to philosophy not as a saving mechanism but as a lost ...

Paul de Man’s Past

Christopher Norris, 4 February 1988

... knowledge of his subsequent work.It has often been argued by hostile commentators – among them, Frank Lentricchia – that deconstruction is just a species of ‘textualist’ mystification, a last-ditch retreat from politics and history into the realm of evasive rhetorical strategies. Now this charge has a certain plausibility when applied to those ...

Call me Ahab

Jeremy Harding: Moby-Dick, 31 October 2002

Moby-Dick, or, The Whale 
by Herman Melville, edited by Harrison Hayford and Hershel Parker.
Northwestern, 573 pp., £14.95, September 2001, 0 8101 1911 0
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Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live in 
by C.L.R. James.
New England, 245 pp., £17.95, July 2001, 9781584650942
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Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival 
by Clare Spark.
Kent State, 744 pp., £46.50, May 2001, 0 87338 674 4
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Lucchesi and the Whale 
by Frank Lentricchia.
Duke, 104 pp., £14.50, February 2001, 9780822326540
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... upon month of so-called ‘action’, there is nothing but prose. The campus professor hero of Frank Lentricchia’s novel Lucchesi and the Whale – a ‘mad Ahab of reading’ – remarks that ‘Melville is world famous not for his writing but for the story of Ahab which . . . constitutes maybe 20 per cent’ of the work. Yet in any ...

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