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THE BIBLIO FILE is one of the world's leading podcasts about "the book" and an inquiry into the wider world of book culture. Hosted by NIGEL BEALE it features wide ranging conversations with authors, poets, book publishers, booksellers, book editors, book collectors, book makers, book scholars, book critics, book designers, book publicists, literary agents and other best practitioners on Robert Darnton's "communications circuit."

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Dec 17, 2021

Daniel Mendelsohn "is an internationally bestselling author, critic, essayist, and translator. Born in New York City in 1960, he received degrees in Classics from the University of Virginia and Princeton. After completing his Ph.D. he moved to New York City, where he began freelance writing full time; since 1991 he has been a prolific contributor of essays, reviews, and articles to many publications, most frequently The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books."

We met via Zoom to discuss the role of the literary critic and how Daniel performs it. We talk about who he is {okay, just part of who he is), what he does, how he does it, and why it's important; about how the critic, by looking behind our reactions, helps us to better understand and appreciate the meaning and significance of a work of art; about critics expressing the intangible and ineffable; the distinction between criticism and opinion; criticism as a service industry; disagreeing with critics; criticism as metaphor; criticism as storytelling; communities of intelligent people; and how really mind-blowing it is that we're all kicking stones around here on a planet that's spinning at some incredible speed moving through a gigantic space that seems devoid of meaning, and we don't know why. Which is why, of course, narrative is so important. It stops us from being scared shitless all of the time. Criticism helps us to figure out how narrative does this. This, and much more.