A Spinster's Tale Essay

Peter Taylor
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Egon Schwartz, demonstrating how the vagaries of Hermann Hesse's reputation have depended on place and time [in "Hermann Hesse, The American Youth Movement, and Problems of Literary Evaluation," PMLA, Vol. 85, 1970], suggests that literary scholarship, even when presuming to be value-free, is constantly reflecting its temporal situation, that it "is replete with unreflected values and engages in indirect evaluation all the time." The example of Hesse, that belatedly acclaimed guru, is surely dramatic; yet, beyond even the unknowntoday, adulated-tomorrow (or vice versa) stereotype, there are many other, more subtle, manifestations of temporal influence on literary scholarship and evaluation.

I shall speak of two. There is, first of all, the simple matter of subject matter. Critics have not sufficiently acknowledged the important role that "subject" plays in determining the literature that they praise or, more subtly, that they choose to write about. Secondly, there is the critical urge toward...

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This section contains 372 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy the A Spinster's Tale Study Guide
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A Spinster's Tale from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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