The Energies of Art, by Jacques Barzun
The opening essay of Mr. Barzun’s book is called “The Critic’s Task Today,” and I began to read with a marked alertness of interest: the critic’s task today in England—that phrase defines pretty well a main preoccupation of my own. An American critic would be contemplating a scene in some ways different from that familiar to me: I prepared to note the differences, and to find they had an instructive bearing on my own sense of the problem—the common problem, it ought (I assumed) to be. For the difference that Mr. Barzun seemed to be presenting me with by the time I had reached the bottom of the first page, I was, however, wholly unprepared, and I very soon settled down to the conclusion that, as the upshot of a perusal of Mr. Barzun’s book, I now have to report: between the problem as seen by him and as seen by me there is little or nothing in common.
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