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In Defense of Ignorance


reviewed by E. P. Bollier 1960

coverTitle: In Defense of Ignorance
Author(s): Karl Shapiro
Publisher: John Wiley, New York
ISBN: , Pages: , Year:
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At first, Karl Shapiro’s In Defense of Ignorance, despite its iconoclastic title, seems no more than a collection of essays on literature by a distinguished poet, teacher, and editor—a collection unified by his hope “to restore the respect of the ordinary reader for his own judgment.” Toward that end, Mr. Shapiro’s attack on modern criticism as a conspiracy to maintain anti-democratic, “ideological” poets like Yeats, Pound, and Eliot as the only significant “moderns” may help. Certainly, even if his attack is overwrought, many of his specific judgments are sound enough to stimulate revaluations. Yet In Defense of Ignorance reveals another purpose. Poetry, Mr. Shapiro admits, is simply a point of departure “to perceive the intellectual dry rot of our age.” That dry rot is intellect itself when it imposes artificial categories and abstractions upon the felt unity and spontaneity of experience. “Everything we are taught is false,” he says, because... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 62 Number 3, 1960, p. 259-259
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 3346, Date Accessed: 10/18/2017 11:53:01 PM

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  • E. Bollier


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