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Postmodern Pooh Paperback – January 15, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press (January 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865476543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865476547
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,118,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1964, a young English professor at Berkeley published The Pooh Perplex, a slim academic satire purporting to collect a dozen critical essays on Winnie-the-Pooh. Insightful and searingly funny, it took academia by storm and gave the humanities a much-needed poke in the ribs. Little known then, Crews would become a highly influential cultural critic, whose humor and clarity leaven many books more serious than Pooh. Now, concluding a "long if uneventful career of devotion to humanistic values and to Pooh," Crews has issued a sequel, which is, if possible, more trenchant and hilarious than the original. This is partly circumstantial, the English Lit profession having become more self-parodying than ever. In 11 sham essays (complete with footnotes of brilliantly chosen actual texts), Crews takes on deconstruction, queer theory, gender/body studies, postcolonial studies, chaos theory, etc. His genius lies in details, like the "stochastic teddy bear descent rate" chart in the gene-theory paper and the Marxist professor with a "cross-departmental chair at Duke as Joe Camel Professor of Child Development." Crews steers largely clear of ethnic studies, reserving his finest shots for the Freudian and post-Freudian pretensions he has been dismantling for most of his career. Insiders will readily recognize ‚minences grises like Harold Bloom and Stanley Fish, broadly caricatured. Occasionally, Crews falls somewhat wide of the mark. But in general his touch is too deft to be mean-spirited, and should be welcomed by a profession famous for its need and ability to laugh at itself. This small volume should be required reading for the 30,000 members of the MLA and any other bemused spectators of the academic fishbowl.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Crews (English, emeritus, Berkeley) recently created controversy with his book-length invective against Freudianism, The Memory Wars. For this updated version of his wildly popular lampooning of literary criticism, The Pooh Perplex, published almost four decades ago, Crews sinks his fangs into more recent movements, such as deconstructionism, new historicism, radical feminism, trauma studies, postcolonialism, and cybercriticism. The book gathers papers from a fictional panel on Pooh at the Modern Language Association's annual convention, all written by Crews and garnished with footnotes that allow the bathos and muddled thinking in some actual scholarship to speak for itself. But like a gang of sorcerer's apprentices, Crews's targets often wriggle free of their creator's grasp and endow his satire with some of the passion, eloquence, and wit that has earned them their following. Although his animus against Freud knows no bounds, Crews eschews cynicism and ideological agendas as ringmaster of this learned Cage aux folles, magnanimously skewering radicals and archconservatives alike. Crews's obvious pleasure in letting a stuffed bear show up those critics who have clearly kept him reading for years will keep anyone interested in literary scholarship in stitches. Recommended for larger public and all academic libraries. Ulrich Baer, New York Univ.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Excellent skewering of a branch of academia that seems to set itself up for it.
Cynthia S. Froning
Much of the enjoyment of the book lies in the way Crews can make the Pooh stories fit these absurd theories.
Orrin C. Judd
Every English major (and actually everyone) should be required to read these two books.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Norman Rabkin on October 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To be fair, let me say at the outset that the author has been my friend and colleague for many years. I am sure, however, that I would feel exactly as I do about this book if I had never laid eyes on Fred Crews. Thirty-eight years ago, when The Pooh Perplex was published, literary criticism was a harmless activity produced largely by academics with one intellectual obsession or another (such as Freudian analysis or Marxist world-views), or by followers of easily parodied methodologies such as the self-styled New Criticsm. In the years since much has changed. The study of literature occupies a much smaller place in the colleges and universities than it did, but paradoxically, rather than banding together to save the humanities in a world less interested in their subject, academic critics have all too often split into warring camps of Taliban-like true believers, each coterie proclaiming its own often unintelligible, jargon-ridden, and preposterous ideology. What most of such schools of criticism share, under the name of what they agree to call "Theory," is a new sense that you can say anything you want if it is outrageous and pretentious enough. Many of these writers argue that there is no real world anyway, just what one perceives, so the old limits are gone.
An outraged sense of the culture-destroying impact of such nonsense underlies the parodies in Postmodern Pooh. The essays are--though it's almost impossible to believe anything could be--funnier than those in The Pooh Perplex. An example is Chapter Three, "The Fissured Subtext: Historical Problematics, the Absolute Cause, Transcoded Contradictions, and Late-Capitalist Metanarrative (in Pooh)", by a fire-eating revolutionary who holds "the cross-departmental chair. . .
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73 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on October 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Literary Criticism so long ago slipped over the edge into self parody that when I first found an old dog-eared copy of The Pooh Perplex at a book sale many years ago it took me more than a few pages to figure out whether it was meant to be serious or not. In a series of essays, various critics, of dubious but seemingly impressive pedigree, read the Pooh stories through the distorted lenses of their own literary/political/philosophical/psychological perspectives. It turned out of course that the book, published in 1964, had been the work of a young English professor at Berkeley (of all places) and was a parody, skewering several of the then current schools of criticism. Now, nearly forty years later, retired from academia, Professor Crews gives today's critics the satirical drubbing they so richly deserve in this manufactured set of lectures to the Modern Language Association convention. Happily, this second effort is just as funny as the first, though it is somewhat depressing to realize that his targets have become even easier to poke fun at because, one shudders at the thought, their theories are even more ridiculous than those of their predecessors.
I'll not pretend to understand all the nuances of what Professor Crews has written; heck, I don't even recognize all the schools of thought he's sending up, nor all the specific people he seems to have targeted. Everyone will discern Harold Bloom in the person of Orpheus Bruno, whose lecture is titled The Importance of Being Portly, and whose last three books are titled : My Vico, My Shakespeare, My God!; What You Don't Know Hurts Me; and Read These Books.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia S. Froning on February 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
Excellent skewering of a branch of academia that seems to set itself up for it. Crews put a lot of work into these essays, which are clever, intelligent, and extremely funny. He isn't nearly so vicious in his satire as many of his speakers (and their real-life counterparts) are in their literary-political maneuvering, but he exposes the void at the heart of much modern literary criticism where the work itself used to live. Pooh is as good as any other subject when the theory drives the criticism, which is why this book works so well.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Suet on November 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
You need to have some familiarity with the exciting, contemporary, cutting-edge American literary intellectual scene to get the very best out of this. Being a simple foreigner like Pooh, and a scientist to boot, I don't. That hasn't bothered me much in the past, but now I'm not Saussure.

The question is how much theoretical overkill the poor old bear can take. The answer is, while theory is its own justification and the printer ink holds out, the sky's the limit. A galaxy of thinkers is here to enlighten us courtesy of Prof. Crews: the Derridean, replete with deeply stunning insights and theoretical rigor verging on mortis; the neo-Marxist, living embodiment of Dr. Johnson's wise remark on hope and experience; the barking second-generation feminist; the Lacanian-Deleuzoguattarian (they won't lie down, you know); last but very far from least, the Vicar of Bray type, author of 'The Last Theory Book You'll Ever Need' and several sequels in the same vein.

The footnotes - genuine quotations from distinguished theorists - should be studied with the attention they deserve. These are the guardians of the culture. Go on, give yourself a fright.

For me the best-realized figure is the Roger Kimball clone, Dudley Cravat III, who by some extraordinary oversight has been invited to contribute to this panel. I suspect the author has most sympathy with, or anyway least antipathy to, this character, but that doesn't save him from a ribbing. "Much has changed, and all of it for the worse, since we ourself, nearing completion of our Harvard dissertation, attended the MLA convention of 1976 and discovered that once-abundant assistant professorships for tradition-minded young scholars had vanished overnight.
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