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Contents:
  1. Waiting for the barbarians : essays on the classics and pop culture, Daniel Mendelsohn
  2. A Critic’s Manifesto
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One must simply place explosive charges at the weight-bearing junctures of a novel and out-sprint the tumbling rubble. A review must ultimately amuse — and wit is the fuel for this amusement.

But wit is an unstable element. It simplifies, it collapses, it arsons. Daniel Mendelsohn began his career as a critic in the Wildean mode, plying his formidable wit in the demolition shop of New York Magazine. Although some of the dust-up from some of his early reviews still stands, in the 10 years since he held that post Mendelsohn has performed a critical evolution so thorough and transcendent it is almost an act of grace. Some critics turn to praise in apologia; Mendelsohn has done so out of a deepening and sharpening of his vision. Waiting for the Barbarians , his latest collection of essays and reviews, is full of prose in praise of Horace, of Sappho, of Homer, and of the ghosts of all the above across all of popular culture.

Waiting for the barbarians : essays on the classics and pop culture, Daniel Mendelsohn

It makes it clear he is now, and has been for some time, the finest critic alive. There are punishments here, and re-readings, too. But they proceed from an unparalleled understanding of the Greek and Roman roots of storytelling, which he braids into reviews with a subtlety and patience that is beautiful to behold. Most impressively, he performs this deeper reading across many different art forms. Guess I'm not the audience for this one.

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A Critic’s Manifesto

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