Frederick Crews is a Person of Very Great Brain. What he pooh-poohs deserves it.
Postmodern Pooh is an astonishing book: hilarious, deliciously cruel, and intellectually stimulating.
A brilliant and savagely witty skewering of the combatants on all sides of the academic culture wars . . . These are pitch-perfect lampoons . . .
The Washington Post
Once again, Crews made me laugh until I wept.(Mark Pendergrast, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Sparkling wit and brilliant parodies . . . make this a funny book.
Los Angeles Times
Really good academic fun. The Boston Globe
Postmodern Pooh should be required reading.
The Sun [Baltimore]
In 1964, a young English professor at Berkeley published The Pooh Perplex, a slim academic satire purporting to collect a dozen critical essays on Winnie-the-Pooh. Insightful and searingly funny, it took academia by storm and gave the humanities a much-needed poke in the ribs. Little known then, Crews would become a highly influential cultural critic, whose humor and clarity leaven many books more serious than Pooh. Now, concluding a "long if uneventful career of devotion to humanistic values and to Pooh," Crews has issued a sequel, which is, if possible, more trenchant and hilarious than the original. This is partly circumstantial, the English Lit profession having become more self-parodying than ever. In 11 sham essays (complete with footnotes of brilliantly chosen actual texts), Crews takes on deconstruction, queer theory, gender/body studies, postcolonial studies, chaos theory, etc. His genius lies in details, like the "stochastic teddy bear descent rate" chart in the gene-theory paper and the Marxist professor with a "cross-departmental chair at Duke as Joe Camel Professor of Child Development." Crews steers largely clear of ethnic studies, reserving his finest shots for the Freudian and post-Freudian pretensions he has been dismantling for most of his career. Insiders will readily recognize minences grises like Harold Bloom and Stanley Fish, broadly caricatured. Occasionally, Crews falls somewhat wide of the mark. But in general his touch is too deft to be mean-spirited, and should be welcomed by a profession famous for its need and ability to laugh at itself. This small volume should be required reading for the 30,000 members of the MLA and any other bemused spectators of theacademic fishbowl. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Crews (English, emeritus, Berkeley) recently created controversy with his book-length invective against Freudianism, The Memory Wars. For this updated version of his wildly popular lampooning of literary criticism, The Pooh Perplex, published almost four decades ago, Crews sinks his fangs into more recent movements, such as deconstructionism, new historicism, radical feminism, trauma studies, postcolonialism, and cybercriticism. The book gathers papers from a fictional panel on Pooh at the Modern Language Association's annual convention, all written by Crews and garnished with footnotes that allow the bathos and muddled thinking in some actual scholarship to speak for itself. But like a gang of sorcerer's apprentices, Crews's targets often wriggle free of their creator's grasp and endow his satire with some of the passion, eloquence, and wit that has earned them their following. Although his animus against Freud knows no bounds, Crews eschews cynicism and ideological agendas as ringmaster of this learned Cage aux folles, magnanimously skewering radicals and archconservatives alike. Crews's obvious pleasure in letting a stuffed bear show up those critics who have clearly kept him reading for years will keep anyone interested in literary scholarship in stitches. Recommended for larger public and all academic libraries. Ulrich Baer, New York Univ. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
A delightful sequel to the 1963 bestseller The Pooh Perplex that, like its predecessor, both skewers and synopsizes contemporary lit-crit approaches. Comprised of "methodologically acute papers on Pooh from leading figures in our field" presented at a Modern Language Association forum (or so the tongue-in-cheek preface informs us), the volume aims to examine Pooh in ways that generate "usefully conflictual" comments. This goal was achieved, says youthful-gadfly-turned-ironist-emeritus Crews (English/Berkeley). There's so much more to laugh at in literary criticism now than in 1963: while the first Pooh volume spoofed Freudian and Marxist academics, this one offers an even riper lot of ideologies for delectation. In 11 essays, including "Why? Wherefore? Inasmuch as Which?" and "The Fissured Subtext: Historical Problematics, the Absolute Cause, Transcoded Contradictions, and Late-Capitalist Metanarrative (in Pooh)," the Bear with Very Little Brain is dissected in light of gay studies, gyn crit, new historicism, meme studies, cultural studies, psychoanalytic studies, postcolonialism, poststructuralism, and more. Deliciously named imaginary contributors include N. Mack Hobbes, Sisera Catheter, and Calcutta-born Das Nuffa Dat. Identifying these characters is one of the many pleasures here: Could they be Stanley Fish, Judith Butler, Edward Said? At least Orpheus Bruno, writing on "The Importance of Being Portly," definitely appears to be Harold Bloom (clues to identity can be found in the footnotes). The essays display such erudition that they provide a backhanded overview of modern critical theory. More important, they reveal the author's humanistic faith even as "our humanism itself, by thislate date, has become full of Pooh." English majors, arise: Your field has been satirized, and well. Enjoy this in small doses, for it may be Crews's last Pooh, and you'll want to savor every semiotics joke that comes along.
"So all you lit-crit junkies, rush right out and snag a copy of Postmodern Pooh. Once again, Crews made me laugh until I wept." Mark Pendergrast, The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Sparkling wit and brilliant parodies ... make this a funny book." Merle Rubin, The Los Angeles Times
"Really good academic fun." Barbara Fisher, The Boston Globe
"Postmodern Pooh should be required reading." Michael Pakenham, The Baltimore Sun