Imani reproduces part of The Art of Fiction interview no.195 with Oe Kenzaburo from The Paris Review. In the article, the interviewer says at one point, "In America, literary criticism and creative writing are, for the most part, mutually exclusive." I'm not sure that that has ever been quite true but, regardless, Oe's response is perfect:
I respect scholars most of all. Although they struggle in a narrow space, they find truly creative ways of reading certain authors.
To understand literature we need the three-pronged attack that Oe outlines: submersion in the author's work; submersion in the critical response to the work (both general critical and academic); and then we need to triangulate that reading with ourselves and dwell on how this study plays with our previous reading and learning.
The interview ends with this gem: the interviewer says, "It sounds like when you travel you spend most of your time in your hotel room reading." Oe Replies:
Yes, that’s right. I do some sightseeing, but I have no interest in good food. I like drinking, but I don’t like going to bars because I get in fights.