Knowledge and Opinion: Essays and Literary Criticism of John G. Neihardt

By John G. Neihardt; Lori Holm Utecht | Go to book overview

TEN
The Glow of the Moment

Neihardt loved a good book, and he delighted in sharing his discoveries with his readers. He was well qualified to suggest a feast of reading, for the number of books that passed through his hands numbered in the thousands (his personal library contained over five thousand volumes; in his work as reviewer he examined more than twenty-five hundred books). He considered his responsibilities to go beyond a display of titles, however, and in his columns he attempted to let his readers know what they might expect to find between the covers of a book. Sometimes he is in line with contemporary critical opinion, as when he praises the work of Dorothy Parker or young F. Scott Fitzgerald; sometimes he is out of step, as when he champions some obscure title, lauds a work that has been overwhelmingly panned, or challenges the reputation of even the most respected of his contemporaries.

Not all of the books that Neihardt recommended were selected because they qualify as enduring literature: Cyclone Denton's sincere reminiscences can be appreciated by lovers of the American West; Kahlil Gibran's writing contains food for the spirit; Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front is eloquent in its evocation of suffering.

According to Neihardt, criticism is not a vehicle for the venting of personal likes or dislikes; rather, it is a place for examining a piece of writing in light of one's critical standards. The effort a writer puts into a work is deserving of careful consideration and respect, and the work examined is deserving of judgment on its own terms, not in how it stacks up against the latest “clamorously celebrated wheeze.” 1

-113-

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Knowledge and Opinion: Essays and Literary Criticism of John G. Neihardt
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - Tradition 1
  • One - As from a Height of Time 3
  • Two - Ancient Seers 9
  • Three - Epic Landscape 23
  • 2 - Troubled Planet 33
  • Four - Tremendous Mood of War 35
  • Five - Breadlines and Bursting Granaries 43
  • Six - Social Turmoil 53
  • 3 - Trends in Contemporary Literature 69
  • Seven - Genuine Criticism 71
  • Eight - Vandals in the Temple 77
  • Nine - Only Symptomatic 89
  • 4 - Of Making Many Books 111
  • Ten - The Glow of the Moment 113
  • Eleven - Impeccably Unremarkable 129
  • 5 - This Mysterious Universe 145
  • Twelve - Et Tu, Scientia? 147
  • Thirteen - Exploring the Unknown 161
  • Fourteen - The Flesh and the Spirit 172
  • 6 - Poetic Values 183
  • Fifteen - Hill of Vision 185
  • Sixteen - What is Literature Good For? 203
  • Notes 217
  • Sources 227
  • Index 233
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