intimacy

Edward Mendelson

Many academics are far too sophisticated to take seriously the thought that literature is a special form of intimacy. Academic discourse tends to think of literature in impersonal, collective terms, typically as something that almost everyone, it seems, calls ‘cultural production’. It is of course true that works of literature are artefacts of cultural production, but true in the same trivial way that persons are artefacts of genetic production. It omits everything that makes a work interesting in itself, everything that makes it matter. The whole idea of literature as impersonal production rather than as a form of intimacy seems intellectually self-defeating.