It will be the eighth book of mine released by a big New York publishing house, but I think it was only somewhere around the fifth or sixth that I stopped feeling like an impostor. This guest post is by Charles Finch, a graduate of Yale and Oxford. He is the author of the Charles Lenox mysteries. His first contemporary novel, The Last Enchantments , is out now. He lives in Chicago.
Please note that ebooks are subject to tax and the final price may vary depending on your country of residence. Can the criticism of literature and culture ever be completely professionalized? Does criticism retain an amateur impulse even after it evolves into a highly specialized discipline enshrined in the university?
The Critic as Amateur : immediately one recognizes the prompt, a good idea for an essay, an excellent occasion for a collection of essays, and the time seems right for any number of reasons. Most of us started as amateurs—at least I have yet to meet the person who decided to become a professional reader the way one might decide to become a stockbroker, or an orthodontist, as a career choice that might marry talent and ability to income and status, as a rational, economic choice. People become tax attorneys for all sorts of reasons, but rarely because they were reading IRS regulations under the covers with a flashlight as children. But people almost always love reading novels or poetry long before they have any professional relation to them. We readers are amateurs before we are anything else.