Spring 1951 • Vol. XIII No. 2 My Credo: A Symposium of Critics (Continued) |

IX. Not in Cold Blood

I am sure it is a very good thing for the editors of The Kenyon Review to set up this little group portrait of contemporary criticism (like those engravings of the Confederate generals with a large, oval-cut Lee surrounded by a circlet of lesser generals). I am not at all sure it is a good thing for us to be engraving ourselves, especially as I have a feeling that Lee may get left out of the picture and that some of us staff second lieutenants may get drawn too big. Self-portraiture is a dangerous game, which can lead a practising critic into the bad taste of saying that the essential possession for the practising critic is good taste. The only kind of knowledge about himself a critic ought to have is the kind he gets by being relevant or—if he's that good—even wise about books and authors. If a critic is that good we are interested in criticism about him, some one else's criticism; in Allen Tate on Johnson or Herbert Read on Coleridge or Howard Nemerov on Tate. All these pe

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Literary critic, Arthur Mizener (1907-1988) was Mellon Foundation Professor of English at Cornell University from 1951 to 1975. In addition to other works, he authored the first biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Far Side of Paradise (1951) along with a biography of Ford Madox Ford, The Saddest Story: A Biography of Ford Madox Ford (1971).

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