Most notably, Epstein says that those who composed and compiled this 1,244-page book abuse the English language itself by such confusing and trendy language that no one can understand them:
". . .through the magic of dull and faulty prose, the contributors to "The Cambridge History of the American Novel" have been able to make these presumably worldly subjects seem parochial in the extreme—of concern only to one another, which is certainly one derogatory definition of the academic. These scholars may teach English, but they do not always write it, at least not quite. A novelist, we are told, "tasks himself" with this or that; things tend to get "problematized"; the adjectives "global" and "post"-this-or-that receive a good workout; "alterity" and "intertexuality" pop up their homely heads; the "poetics of ineffability" come into play; and "agency" is used in ways one hadn't hitherto noticed, so that "readers in groups demonstrate agency." About the term "non-heteronormativity" let us not speak.These dopey words and others like them are inserted into stiffly mechanical sentences of dubious meaning.
The book itself, says Epstein, is a symbol of all the reasons why people who started out loving novels had all such love drummed out of them by narcissistic and cliquish teachers.
Tell me, what book did you once love, then grow to hate, because of a teacher?
Or, what novel did you once hate when studying it in school, then rediscovered it later and now love it?