Criticism in Society
Methuen, 244 pp, $52.95 hb
Living with Stress and Anxiety is the title of one of those self-help guides put out by Manchester University Press in its ‘Living With …’ series; Living with Breast Cancer and Mastectomy is another. Living with Literary Theory is not a scheduled volume, I imagine, although some people who work in the lit. crit. business seem to regard literary theory as a prime source of anxiety for which the only remedy is theorectomy. In the decade since Terence Hawkes first taught us how to live with Structuralism and Semiotics (1977), Methuen has succeeded admirably through its expository ‘New Accents’ series (edited by Hawkes) in making it easier for everybody to cope with such anxiety-provoking processes as Lacanian psychoanalysis or Derridean deconstruction; too easy, in the opinion of those who them-selves feel uneasy at the politics of marketing criticism’s nouvelle cuisine as fast-food takeaways, with Methuen playing the role of the big M.