Literary critics used to adopt a persona claiming disinterested separation from the text being analysed. Critical theory, in particular post-colonial and gender studies, eroded this stance, showing that criticism is always self-interested, concealing or inadvertently revealing tacit assumptions stemming from the critic’s biography, class, gender, and political persuasions. As a result, it is common nowadays for critics to be more self-aware about their own value systems. In some ways, this returns us to a Romantic understanding of interpretation reflected in Hazlitt’s ‘It is we who are Hamlet’, Coleridge’s ‘I have a smack of Hamlet myself, if I may say so’, and Keats’s ‘axioms in philosophy are not axioms until they are proved on the pulses ... you will know exactly my meaning when I say, that now I shall relish Hamlet more than I ever have done’.
THE KING AND I
by Philippa Kelly
Continuum (Palgrave Macmillan), $42.95 pb, 128 pp, 978441111647
R.S. White is Australian Professorial Fellow (ARC), Winthrop Professor of English at UWA, and a Programme Leader for the ARC Centre of...
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