The folks who administer the Bradley Prizes have announced this year’s first winner: the great Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal (drama critic), Commentary (critic-at-large) and his own site, About Last Night. Terry doesn’t just criticize; he is also the author of biographies, libretti and the play Satchmo at the Waldorf (which I saw in New York with my family earlier this month and raved about in “A tour de megaforce”).
Terry is my favorite working critic, period. If you read his Journal reviews or Commentary essays, you know that his natural mode is one of praise and appreciation. He is one free man who does not need, or has already taken to heart, Auden’s instruction on what is to be done “in the prison of his days.” He will help you get more out of the work under consideration than you otherwise would. He is a great critic.
On the rare occasions when he feels called on to administer justice to overpraised dreck, he will rise to the occasion. But the occasion is infrequent.
As is usually the case with the Bradley Prizes, the award to Teachout honors both Teachout and those conferring it on him.