Summer 1966 • Vol. XXVIII No. 3 NonfictionJune 1, 1966 |

William Troy’s Work

In 1948, in a book called The Armed Vision: A Study in the Methods of Modern Literary Criticism, I announced the birth of a great age of literary criticism, for which a handful of brilliant pioneers had prepared the way. In retrospect, that book turns out to be the tombstone erected over the grave of a great age of literary criticism. The distinguished generation of critics I celebrated—chief among them Richards and Empson, Burke and Blackmur—has done little of significance since 1948, and their successors have done little more. R. W. B. Lewis is less than F. 0. Matthiessen, Norman Podhoretz is less than Lionel Trilling, Hugh Kenner is less than Ezra Pound—I need hardly add that I am less than Kenneth Burke. We live in the Age of the Epigones, and we sing sad songs of the death of criticism. Our critics today inherit the methods of their great predecessors, but not their genius, their sensibility, or their full commitment to literature. It was the fault of The Armed Vision to

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