SKEPTICAL ENGAGEMENTS by Frederick Crews

SKEPTICAL ENGAGEMENTS

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

As the title warns, critic Crews is indeed skeptical and refreshingly so. In this collection of essays, he takes on and debunks psychoanalysis, Marxism and the pretensions of the university literati. Quite a task, and one that has probably irked some of his intellectual confreres, but it will illuminate the serious reader with a philosophic bent. He questions Freud's ""science"" and, like others, pronounces it as nothing more than an interesting fiction and about as curative as any other type of therapeutic intervention. There has been no hard evidence that it does much better than ""take an aspirin and call me in the morning."" As far as the Marxism goes, the real aficionados are in countries that have not had the benefit of its application. Its last bastion seems to be in the academic community where it sometimes melds with forms of literary criticism that bear such pompous names as deconstructionism or poststructuralism. Crews is impatient with cant, but surprisingly good-humored as he admits his own follies and questions those of others. Once a Freudian but now a skeptic, the author's good sense is reassuring to all who believe that literature has meaning and authors do indeed have something to say. Are critics only writing for a closed audience of fellow monks? The author is provocative about writers from Philip Roth to Erik Erikson, and in the process gives us a clear picture of intellectual life, warts and all.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1986
ISBN: 187727500X
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press