For Elizabeth Hardwick, literary criticism had to be up there with its subjects; real literature should elicit criticism worthy of the achievement in question. We got that from her straight off. The kind of modern literary criticism she was talking about—Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, Edmund Wilson, Randall Jarrell, R.P. Blackmur, John Berryman, F.W. Dupee, Mary McCarthy—was as stimulating as the work it was exploring. Then, too, she wanted us to take seriously the essay as a form. The American essay—Thoreau, Emerson—was an important part of American history.