Native Informant: Essays on Film, Fiction, and Popular Culture

Leo Braudy, Author Oxford University Press $49.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-19-505274-9
In this collection of essays from the late 1960s through the '80s, Braudy ( The Frenzy of Renown ) again proves his importance as a leading academic critic. Believing that ``the openness of texts to the world and to alternate readings makes their meaning not indeterminate but complex,'' he provides insightful explorations of such diverse subjects as Norman Mailer, Alfred Hitchcock, the gangster film, the philosophic roots of Fanny Hill , the twisted historical sensibility of novelists Thomas Berger and Richard Condon, and the criticism of Susan Sontag (``In pursuit of new connections she has fashioned a rhetoric of subordination that puts her forward as the humble lightning rod of culture''). But it is somewhat disingenuous for Braudy to state that his critical credentials are ``roughly equivalent to those of anyone else'' living in the media-saturated present day, making him a ``native, if not naive, informant.'' The author's style is more readable than most academics, but his fondness for the moral and literary complexities of 18th-century literature also imbues his cultural and historical criticism of 20th-century works. This admirable book is both too subtle for the general reader and not radical enough for those on the critical cutting edge. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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