Prefaces to critical books often display more self-consciousness and uneasiness than we usually associate with critical discourse. These moments when critics speak about their own work can undermine our assumptions about disinterested scholarship. Moreover, they can lead to a reexamination of the critical activity and a search for new ways of evaluating critical prose that take account of the critic's attitude toward his own work. We need to examine criticism's stylistic and formal properties, not just its paraphrasable content. Such analysis can reveal the way a critic's interests and commitments are woven into the texture of his language. That language, however, will always partly betray or suppress the critic's experience. Criticism, moreover, can neither wholly escape nor wholly dominate the texts it treats. Yet it can also never be entirely self-effacing. As a result, criticism is a particularly ambivalent and compromised form of writing.