The Critic’s Work

The critic’s work is never done; none believed this so much as Johannes Speyer, to the extent that he spent the vast majority of his career actively avoiding the act of criticism. As Wolfgang Heizler’s biography has pointed out, Speyer was first and foremost a critic of criticism. His life was one in which he limbered up, stretched his mind, and prepared himself methodically for a task that he never had any real intention of completing. Rather than write about books, he wrote, at some length, about the (im)possibility of writing about books: the problems and the pitfalls, the complications and contradictions. He criticised himself out of existence.

Chapter Six, Part Three.


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