A modest query falls out of the fog:
“Might you be interested in this small book,
which would appear to fit your catalogue—
new figures, new research? Please take a look.”

The answer is politely couched, and smooth;
they cannot risk offense that might be quoted.
The momentary business is to soothe,
while the assessment’s “pending, as was noted.”

They read the work in-house, then send it out
for two evaluations, with a letter
that may be poison-pen. It’s all a rout:
the first review is bad, the next no better.

“You have no overarching argument.
Now, Hegel organized all history,
a pyramid of theses; Marx then went
a step beyond, and found economy

to be its moving force.   Edward Said
produced his post-colonial critique,
and feminists imposed their brilliant creed:
collective guilt; no grace. Oh, magnifique!

So what’s your thesis; what’s the guiding claim
in this poor manuscript? One must devise
a pattern, make things fit, not simply aim
at facts or themes, a pedant’s enterprise!

You see, a book must do, and not just be
or be about. This study will not stand
unless you can construct some theory,
devise a meaning—even find a brand.”

The shelves groan now with useless stuff unread
and quite unreadable— tendentious, dense,
absurd. Since, in the long run, we’ll be dead,
why give our time to things that make no sense?


Postmodernism is a dreadful farce.
Why don’t they go and stick it up their …..?

Catharine Savage Brosman

Dr. Brosman taught literature at Tulane University and is the poetry editor for Chronicles Magazine.

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