First academic books rarely shake off the “I wrote this for my PhD” feel. Not to the detriment of their rigor or scholarship, a certain punctiliousness marks the surface of such writing. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where this feeling originates – perhaps from uniform section lengths, frequent citations of the primary corpus with careful gloss, and prominent advanced organization with much attention given to clarifying the exact scope of the project – but the canons of assessed academic writing have resulted in a style we might dub ‘doctoral lapidary’. It’s probably best that PhD candidates are not encouraged to flirt with belletrisme: the academy’s reputation rests, after all, on rigorous investigation and not effete stylistics. Yet, there’s an antsiness to the care of first books, written in the shadow of a jury’s hypothetical reproach, to make clear that they are doing this, and that that lies outside the scope of the present investigation.
(Perhaps not the best way to open a review. But I at least acquired a free book and learned that academic review work is not my cup of tea.)