This book collects fifty of Christopher Ricks’ reviews from newspapers and journals on both sides of the Atlantic—TLS, London Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, and others—to several of which he has been a regular contributor. The book’s five sections range around the twentieth century, addressing major figures in biography (Ackroyd, Edel, Ellmann, Mailer), poetry and fiction (Heaney, Hemingway, Milosz, Naipaul, Pound), literary criticism and theory (Davie, Empson, Fiedler, Fish, Leavis, Sartre), sociology and cultural studies (Goffman, Milgram, Steiner), and various non-literary arts (The Beatles, Steinberg, Coppola, Kubrick, Wiseman).
The questions at the heart of Ricks’ work as reviewer have always been essential ones: What can we learn from this book? How good and how pleasing is it? Radiantly intelligent, learned, witty, and rigorously attentive to how words are used and to the arguments they are used to make, Christopher Ricks is for many the best critic now writing in English.