Critical theorists in our time sought foundations of kwledge because they knew there were ne to be found, and critical scepticism became a convenient way of burying evidence and saving face. By w, however, -one is interested, the audience has gone home, and the case for studying literature needs to begin again. It cant start too soon. In Take Back the Past, George Watson considers the reasons for the apparent failure of the previous centuryis critics to find the theoretical foundations of critical judgement. He asks why is it more fashionable to look kwing than to kw, and cites political and historical reasons for this lapse in kwledge and critical thinking. In this new study, a worthy addition to his work on the subject, Watson contemplates the collapse of socialism in the late 20th Century and how it lead to the denial of kwledge and the general degeneration of literary thought. 'My object here' - he tells the reader - 'is to find a way back to a sense of a unity of kwledge and the objectivity of judgement: to recover a radical purpose of literature.'
George Watson is a Fellow in English at St. John's College, Cambridge. He is the author of The Literary Critics, to which Never Ones for Theory? is a sequel, and general editor of the New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature.