I take the somewhat naive view that the literature of the past began somewhere a few minutes ago and that the literature of the present begins, say, with Homer. While there is no doubt that we need as much knowledge of all kinds, from all sources, as we can get if we are to see the slightest lyric in all its richness of meaning, we have nevertheless an obligation, that we perilously evade, to form a judgment of the literature of our own time. It is more than an obligation; we must do it if we would keep on living. When the scholar assumes that he is judging a work of the past from a high and disinterested position, he is actually judging it from no position at all but is only abstracting from the work those qualities that his semiscientific method will permit him to see; and this is the Great Refusal.
– “Miss Emily and the Bibliographer”
(from Praising it New: The Best of The New Criticism; Garrick Davis, ed.)
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and Lowell’s rejoinder, “For the Union Dead”