Saturday, November 13, 2004


In addition to the kinds and modes of contemporary reviewing that we discussed a few weeks ago (see posts below on Martin Stannard and the response by Tim Morris), there's another interesting mode of critical review: dialogue, which is by no means new to western culture's literary rhetoric. The constructed dialogue goes back to Plato (who is most well known for it, though his were not the only examples, it was a popular mode of writing about philosophical questions and issues which had followed out of the oralist forms of question and answer that Socrates and Diotima were known for). Dialogue as critical response has often been written well in the west's history of literary textuality (and in other cultural formations, too: check out the examples to be found in the histories of Asian rhetorics, especially the history of Zen Buddhism). One of my favorites in the western/european tradition is Denis Diderot's writing of such interesting and rhetorically acrobatic dialogues as Rameau's Nephew, for example, during the French enlightenment.

So, recently, when reading blogs I happened on Malcolm Davidson's Zotz, which has several dialogues posted (though the most recent, on a Billy Collins poem, is linked here. Malcolm, who lives in Poland, has written several dialogue-reviews of individual poems that were included in the current Best American Poetry anthology (BAP 2004, ed., Lyn Heijinian; series ed., David Lehman, Scribners, NYC).

Well, they are witty and fun, a real hoot. So, students, please do go read what's up at Malcolm Davidson's Zotz!