Tuesday, May 25, 2010


"Ambiguity is one of the favorite principles of the modern critic, but this one has backfired rather badly, killing quite a few graduate students. The critic sees the poem through the dictionary, as if the poet had taken the twenty-three definitions of green and used them all at once. But the way the poet uses green does not appear in any dictionary. (Incidentally, someone should analyze the dictionary, if analysis is the order of the day. The dictionary is a kind of large bad poem, or rather a fine piece of science fiction. And the card catalogue of the library is surely the most romantic epic of modern man…)"

— Karl Shapiro, "The Critic in Spite of Himself" in In Defense of Ignorance, 16