In this carefully reasoned and witty book, the influential cultural critic Frederick Crews takes aim not only at Freudianism, but at a whole host of self-validating theories. These essays concern what Crews calls the fear of facing the world, including its works of literature, without an intellectual narcotic ready at hand.
The result is a searing critique of pretension and folly in the literary academy, from deconstructive "freeplay" to poststructuralist Marxism. Crews applies his skeptical eye to a range of authors, critics, and theorists, including Joseph Conrad, Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, Philip Roth, Philip Rahv, and Leslie Fiedler.
Frederick Crews has remarked that Skeptical Engagements is his favorite among his many books, the one that best integrates my perennial concerns and comes nearest my ideal of independent thought in the service of rational and humane values.
A missile of both shattering and penetrating force. His thought is lucid, sharply rational, and unmistakable. ...could become the most important book of this current decade. - American Literature
Crews takes on a host of academic critics and theorists, and he does so with vigor and in bitingly effective, lucid prose. - Booklist
A hater of obscurantism, Crews threads his way through deconstruction, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and other labyrinths with pedagogic skill and splendid wit. - Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University
An eminently readable collection of literary essays in the humanistic tradition. - Washington Times
Frederick Crews is Professor Emeritus of English and former Chair of the English Department at the University of California at Berkeley. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His twelve books include The Pooh Perplex; The Critics Bear It Away: American Fiction and the Academy (nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award), The Memory Wars: Freud's Legacy in Dispute; Unauthorized Freud, and The Random House Handbook for Writers (now in its sixth edition).
1-877275-00-X (paperback) $20.95
1-877275-12-3 (ebook: PDF) $15.95