Monday, October 13, 2003

Here is what Terry Eagleton had to say about the new, ten-volume edition of the Works of I. A. Richards, in the London Review of Books 24/8 (25 Apr. 2002), pp. 13­15:

"Of all the great 20th-century critics, I.A. Richards is perhaps the most neglected. There is a crankish, hobbyhorsical quality to his work, an air of taxonomies and technical agendas which befits the son of a chemical engineer. His transatlantic counterpart in this respect is Kenneth Burke. Some of Richards's work smacks of the laboratory, and isn't helped by his charmless, bloodless prose style, laced as it is with briskly self-satisfied flourishes which his opponents saw as insufferable arrogance."

Richards remains my inspiration as a thinker of rhetoric, and while I hope that my prose style is free of the defects that Eagleton, Berthoff, and many others have identified in Richards, I hope to maintain his virtues. Richards read widely (in philosophy, in science and biology, in literature). Richards united his reading in a productive body of theory and a productive critical and pedagogical practice.

While I am dedicating this weblog to Richards, a special not to John Constable, the editor of the ten-volume Routledge set. Constable made manifest my hope that my passion for Richards was still viable as a professional path. I encourage everyone to check out this set, especially the last two volumes, collecting much material fresh to my eyes.