Spring 1968 • Vol. XXX No. 2 Book ReviewsJanuary 1, 1968 |

Too Much Spinach

Byron and the Ruins of Paradise by Robert F. Gleckner. The Johns Hopkins Press, $8.95. In the slovenly old days before the New Criticism, it was possible for a critic to make negative value judgments without being accused of committing some obscurely heinous variety of lèse-majesté. No one thought the worse of Dorothy Parker for pointing out with deadly accuracy that there was less in Maeterlinck's plays than met the eye. Dr. Johnson was not denied tenure for calling Lycidas "vulgar" and "disgusting," although I can recall many happy seminar hours devoted to proving that he really did not mean it. For the New Criticism left in its wake a New Orthodoxy, a principal tenet of which is that if you can't find something good to say about an established work of art it's better to remain silent. Robert F. Gleckner's laborious analysis of Byron's major poetry is a prime example of this—and other—recent critical orthodoxies. For years it had been thought that while Byron's la

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