personal meeting in mind, not a messagenor secret. From print to voice; that is thenepireader’s direction [emphasis added].”nEpireaders want to believe that “languagenis merely virtual until it has becomenspeech, and that as speech it isnmediation rather than substance.”nGraphireading, on the other hand, isn”the eclipse of voice by text” (GeoffreynHartman’s phrase). It is, essentially, deconstruction,nan ideology that refers,ngloatingly, to the death of the author,nthe obsolescence of self, the indeterminacynof meaning, and so forth. Donoghuengives a fair and illuminatingndescription of graphireading at the samentime he asserts his preference for epireading.nThe sophisticated and oftenntechnical arguments in the current warfarenof critical theory often intimidate thenuninitiated with befuddling abstraction.nFerocious Alphabets has the admirablenvirtue of sharply and clearly delineatingnsome of the most central issues.nIt is interesting to turn to EdwardnWeeks’s Writers and Friends with thennotion of epireading in mind. If there arensuch things as epireaders. Weeks is certainlynone of them. His very title indicatesnthat it is the personality behindnthe writing that most interests him. Andncertainly what engages us most innreading this book is the voice and personalitynbehind his literary reminiscences.nThese random memoirs recount thenauthor’s long and distinguished career asneditor of The Atlantic from 1938 ton1966. That career includes—in additionnto editing—book publishing, lecturing,ntraveling, hosting a radio program,nwriting columns, and acting in a varietynof liberal causes. He loves people; indeed,none gets the impression readingnthe book that many articles appeared innThe Atlantic primarily because he wasninterested in certain personalities andnsolicited contributions from them. It wasnnot simply ideas and information he wasnseeking, but ideas and informationnshaped by a distinctive voice and personality.nGraphireading, which can benfascinating and persuasive in its abstractntheoretical formulations, fades inncredibility amidst this treatment ofnwriters as friends.nFerocious Alphabets includes anchapter on R.P. Blackmur, in whichnDonoghue suggests that style fornBlackmur became a compensation for ansense of communion or conversation henfelt was lacking when he addressednhimself to a blank page: “Words, includingnmost particularly their sounds,nassociations, and textures, oflfer him relationsnnearly as rich as the sonority Barthesnascribes to friendship.” This notion isncorroborated in Russell Eraser’s biographynof Blackmur. Eraser notes in hisnpreface how “The hermetic critic [Blackmur]nhungered after an audience,” andnhe quotes Blackmur as saying, “It is a terriblenrejoicing I must do in my works.”nTo read this fine biography against thenbackground of Donoghue’s book andnthe current upheavals in critical theory isnto recognize the extent to which NewnCritics like Blackmur provided the seed­nClassicismnK (.la.>;.sii ad in Sew York inugazinc.nthe drcani book for the middlebrow whonlives in that specific enclave of ihenbfhuvioral-ihic iniflligcntsia bi-twcennihc Iiasi iind Hudson Rivers:nRi-lix Ml(.'(l –.Scmuitl hiniasy Psyihoilramu!nVmi will ri-n-ivc a pcrMjiialnlun.suliaiion. Then i-xi liiMvi–iiidiviilualnrole playiiij;wiih yi>ii, will be proviiJi-clnin an linvirDiinicm lailorccl mnciimpliim-iii Voiir .Spctial will rifver sci- anoilii-r iliini.nS5o-s:io.nAnd wh;u if a higli-powcrcd. female exctuiive fimlasizcsnabout being sexually abused byna platoon of U.S. Marines? Will vhatncommodiiy bi- di’livc-red bv an arrangementnwith ihf Deleuse Department, ornbed for poststructuralism. The NewnCritics were unaware of the full implicationsnof their canonization of form andnindifference to authorial intention.nThese notions were tacitly checked byntraditional humanistic assumptions.nBlackmur himself, as Eraser demonstrates,nbacked away from his NewnCritical tendencies in his later writingnand became much concerned with thenconnection between art and society (annunfortunate falling away, in Eraser’snview). Deconstructionists, consciouslynrepudiating traditional humanistic assumptions,nhave carried the New Criticalntendencies to their extreme logical conclusions,ncreating a New Nihilism fornwhich all literature and criticism is thenprojection of subjective responses on annirrational cosmos. Blackmur was a skepticnand nominalist who felt that order is onlynapparent and opens on chaos. Accordingnto Eraser, “He considered that bewildermentnwas the terminus of all thinking,nbut resolved to push on to ‘the maxi-nLlBERAL Cl’l Tl’RE~|nnn1. fjn.f*>.-n-»<nwill some Greenwich Village pros gutnauthentic unifiirms? Things become immenselyncomplicated if the dream objectnis Aristotle. ~’.nmmmm^mmVSnNoYemberl98Sn