In a recent review of Knox's new Blackwell Companion to Ovid, Antonio Ramírez de Verger first complains and then attacks theory. (BMCR
He complains that the imbalance between the two chapters on editions and commentaries and the four 'theoretical' chapters reveal "the pitiful status of Latin studies at present." This status, it appears, stems from the difficulty of understanding the writers who use theory.
He selects the following statement as paradigmatic: "This Ovidian technique-ironic prefiguring realized through intertextual anticipation, when a character who lives in a precise moment of the model-text 'unintentionally' foretells his/her own future or others' by using words destined to appear in the continuation of the model-texts-finds prominent application in the Heroides" (Casali, p. 346)."
He finds that statement so opaque that he must deduce from the surrounding material that is means " Ovid has turned some epic characters into elegiac ("transcoding their story from one genre to another, elegy")." This is, A claims, "A lot of baggage for such a short journey, as the Spanish saying goes."
Despite the ironic way A presents his critique ("pay no attention to me"), it is not hard to see that he has missed the point. I understand Casali to be claiming that Ovid uses allusions to create dramatic irony. This might also be part of the generic play Ovid so much enjoys. The journey, it is clear, is longer than A. allows. More importantly, there is very little theory in what he quotes - the deeper and more troublesome issue of intertextuality are largely absent. His attack amounts to little more than a complaint that Casali does not write as clearly as A. wishes. A lot of baggage for a short trip.
This type of complaint is all too common. It is like blaming the car for speeding rather than the driver. It doesn't matter if one drives a theory Ferrari or a traditionalist Oldsmobile, it is the driver who speeds, not the car, and it is the driver who gets the ticket.
I had hoped that classics had moved beyond such pointless caviling at theory.