Madwomen in the Attic

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Publisher: Gale, part of Cengage Group
Document Type: Critical essay
Length: 906 words

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[In this article, Crain reviews No Man's Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century; Vol. 1: The War of Words].

Some twenty years ago, I overheard several black students at my alma mater arguing over the dates of the French Revolution. After a bit of fruitless controversy, one of them settled the matter by exclaiming, “Oh, what difference does it make? They're all white centuries anyway!”

In the years that have intervened since the late 1960's, of course, this ideologically motivated scorn for history has become a force of corruption throughout our institutions of what used to be called higher learning. Scholars of the humanities, having for decades volunteered as handmaidens of the social sciences, have by now abdicated their authority as guardians of a timeless interpretative dialogue on the highest wisdom and values.

Nowhere has the seemingly inexorable politicization of philosophy and the arts taken a firmer hold than in the minds of literary critics, who themselves scaled the barricades of political “relevance” during the late 1960's eagerly proclaiming that only a literature that could be put to the service of leftist ideology—it really was that crudely held—was worth the having.

In an academic community that was seriously willing to wring its hands over “what The Brothers Karamazov has to do with Vietnam,” bastard concerns of various stripes quickly gained...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|H1420009402