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Langdon HammerWhen did you last read a book of literary criticism? Not recently, most people who do not write criticism themselves will answer. Criticism today is impenetrable and irrelevant, since it is jargon-ridden and no longer interested in literature. Or so people have said. There may have been some truth in this caricature a few years ago, but the Age of Theory is over in America, for better or worse, and plenty of literary critics go on with their work. Take Helen Vendler, who has been writing about literature in lucid prose for more than 40 years. Her Invisible Listeners, a compact study of "lyric intimacy" in three poets, demonstrates, if you have forgotten, some of the best reasons to read literary criticism.
— The New York Times