Thursday, October 27, 2011

Critical Heights

A few weekends ago, I read Hugh Kenner's The Elsewhere Community. It is worth reading, and quickly read, a collection of talks given over the radio.

I was struck by his remark that he was 6'4". I had seen him speak at a colloquium when I was in college, and did not at all notice his height--I suppose he was sitting down while he spoke. This led to the thought of other tall critics--Dennis Donoghue, 6'7", Harold Bloom, quite tall, William Wimsatt, something around 6'7" also. Back when they were young there were still centers at the elite levels of basketball who weren't taller than 6'7".

In my teens and 20s I wouldn't have minded another few inches of height, chiefly to have been able to dunk a basketball, pehaps also to have caught the ladies' eyes more handily. But it never occurred to me that the extra height might have helped me pass for a critic. And I suppose that just as work on strength and flexibility could have got my wrist farther over the rim, more work on the books would have given me better things to say about them.


  1. Your President is quite tall. Sometimes lately his wistful expression has suggested to me that he's thinking, 'Perhaps I should have become a critic after all.'

  2. Better to give than to receive, eh?