A delightful sequel to the 1963 bestseller The Pooh Perplex that, like its predecessor, both skewers and synopsizes contemporary lit-crit approaches.
Comprised of “methodologically acute papers on Pooh from leading figures in our field” presented at a Modern Language Association forum (or so the tongue-in-cheek preface informs us), the volume aims to examine Pooh in ways that generate “usefully conflictual” comments. This goal was achieved, says youthful-gadfly-turned-ironist-emeritus Crews (English/Berkeley). There’s so much more to laugh at in literary criticism now than in 1963: while the first Pooh volume spoofed Freudian and Marxist academics, this one offers an even riper lot of ideologies for delectation. In 11 essays, including “Why? Wherefore? Inasmuch as Which?” and “The Fissured Subtext: Historical Problematics, the Absolute Cause, Transcoded Contradictions, and Late-Capitalist Metanarrative (in Pooh),” the Bear with Very Little Brain is dissected in light of gay studies, gyn crit, new historicism, meme studies, cultural studies, psychoanalytic studies, postcolonialism, poststructuralism, and more. Deliciously named imaginary contributors include N. Mack Hobbes, Sisera Catheter, and Calcutta-born Das Nuffa Dat. Identifying these characters is one of the many pleasures here: Could they be Stanley Fish, Judith Butler, Edward Said? At least Orpheus Bruno, writing on “The Importance of Being Portly,” definitely appears to be Harold Bloom (clues to identity can be found in the footnotes). The essays display such erudition that they provide a backhanded overview of modern critical theory. More important, they reveal the author’s humanistic faith even as “our humanism itself, by this late date, has become full of Pooh.”
English majors, arise: Your field has been satirized, and well. Enjoy this in small doses, for it may be Crews’s last Pooh, and you'll want to savor every semiotics joke that comes along.