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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

May 23, 1993|CHRIS GOODRICH

READING AND WRITING by Robertson Davies (University of Utah Press: $12.95; 64 pp.) Canadian novelist Robertson Davies apologizes a number of times for talking down to his audience during the two 1991 lectures collected in this volume. For good reason: the lectures make for effortless reading, but Davies' views about literature are monotonously familiar: one should read deeply rather than widely, write according to inspiration rather than fashion. Davies has some shrewd things to say about the way in which television and film "have made it necessary for modern novelists to get on with the job as fast as they decently can," and properly bemoans the inordinate amount of second- and third-class writing published today, but his brush is so broad at times that Davis comes off as a willful curmudgeon. Davies disputes the idea that he's an elitist in the Matthew Arnold tradition, his definition of culture appearing to include rather more of life, but he seems nonetheless to be riding a high horse.

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