This chapter surveys and analyses critical responses to Smith’s work, where a blurring, or failure to distinguish one’s critical-ideological perspective from the object of criticism is not uncommon, as can be seen below in terms of readings of White Teeth. In evaluating her work, Smith’s own iconic status is unavoidable, indelibly influencing not only many interviews and profiles, but also the ideological assumptions and presumptions of many academic critics. The latter very often either adopt or take as a starting point the parameters underpinning the ‘public,’ initially commercially driven discourse which memorialized the meaning of both the first novel and its author in culturally symbolic terms, aspects which were intended by the publicity machine to solicit a feel-good factor among potential readers mostly from the liberal middle classes. Such exaggerated coordinates linger, expressed in a certain critical complicity with a set of apparently progressive neo-liberal signifiers many of which are based on non-textual assumptions or ideological ambitions on the part of the critic.
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