Random Walks: Essays in Elective Criticism


Random Walks includes fifteen lively essays on general problems of literary theory and academic practice as well as the appreciation and interpretation of specific writers and their works.

The first section of the book develops Solway's approach to literature, starting from the assumption that genuine criticism requires the intellectual freedom to range at will across the literary landscape rather than restricting one's direction based on what is current, fashionable, or politically correct. Solway argues that advocating a theoretical school generally involves abandoning the real critical project, which is the discovery of one's own undetermined motives, dispositions, and interests as reflected in the secret mirrors embedded in literary texts. Instead Solway pursues what he calls elective criticism, writing that enables the critical writer to freely discover his or her own identity -- a concept that he claims cannot reasonably be diluted, relinquished, or deconstructed.

In the second section Solway practices what he preaches, exploring a wide range of authors and subjects. His essays include an analysis of Franz Kafka's The Trial, a personal memoir of Irving Layton, an interpretation of Erin Moure's "Pronouns on the Main" an examination of language in William Shakespeare's romances, a reading of Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess" an examination of James Joyce as a traditional novelist, and an exploration of Jonathan Swift's sartorial imagery.

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • Eric Ormsby
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Montreal
Publication year:
  • 1997


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