I like reading academic book reviews, particularly of books that have, in retrospect, had a huge impact. In my field, Stephen Greenblatt’s Renaissance Self-Fashioning is one of those books, and Richard Strier’s book review opens with as much praise as you ever see heaped on a scholarly monograph.
First, I love that Greenblatt’s book gets compared to Lewis’s. In the past 30 years, Strier is saying, Lewis and Greenblatt have written the two most important books on the literature of the English 16th Century. Second, Strier points out that Greenblatt writes with conceptual and stylistic panache, always a nice touch. Third, Strier pinpoints Greenblatt’s method. Greenblatt is not an old-school commentator. He is an analyst of social practices, one of which is literature.