ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Fury of the Scholar Ignored

When scholars spar over assessments of their work, especially in a postmodern, smotheringly deconstructive fashion, we yearn for the concise postscript to end all arguments. 


Time was when book reviews were indeed nothing more than just pithy or meandering summaries, followed by an evaluation of the main arguments of the book in roughly about a thousand words or so. Indeed, a book deemed worthless usually merited a substantially briefer review, followed by a dismissal or, worse, damned by faint praise.

The goal of a review is usually to simultaneously expose the book to a wider audience and to help readers decide whether or not it is worth their time and money. Academic protocols—not always followed, of course—also require that reviewers should be disinterested parties. Reviewers usually avoid, or at least should avoid, taking on books that have extensive discussions or critiques of their own work. Nor are reviewers expected to constantly refer to their existing work, let alone advertise their future publication projects and plans. And if references to such projects are absolutely essential to the review at hand, self-advertising in the form of providing details of what the reviewer does outside the university to ostensibly make the world a better place is quite out of order.

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