Denis Donoghue wants us to get back to reading literature as literature. He indicts the politicized criticism now dominating literary study and proposes an alternative that emphasizes the practice of reading over ideological theories about it. His opening chapter, "Curriculum Vitae," sketches a fascinating portrait of his younger reading self, deeply engaged by literature and by the question of how to make sense of his reading experience.
Donoghue is troubled by the way the critical approaches that encouraged him to read for the sake of reading—the work of T. S. Eliot, R. P. Blackmur and the New Critics—have been swept aside by poststructuralist movements. He would approve of Harold Bloom's label: these movements are part of "the school of resentment."