1. The old feud between authors and critics, a feud as old as literature, has not arisen on the ground of chariness in praise, but rather on the ground of deficient sympathy, and the tendency to interpret an author's work according to some standard which is not his. Instead of placing themselves at his point of view, and seeing what he has attempted, how far he has achieved the aim, and whether the aim itself were worthy of achievement, critics have thrust between his work and the public some vague conception of what they required, and measured it by an academic or conventional standard derived from other works.
Fond as an author necessarily is of praise, and pained as he must always be by blame, he is far more touched by a sympathetic recognition of his efforts, and far more hurt by a misrepresentation of them. No hyperbole of laudation gives a tithe of the delight which is given by sympathetic insight. Unhappily for the author, this can but sparingly be given by critics, who trust less to their emotions than to their standards of judgement; for the greater the originality of the writer, and the less inclination he has for familiar processes and already-trodden tracks, the greater must be the resistance he will meet with from minds accustomed to move in those tracks, and to consider excellence confined within them. It is in the nature of the critical mind to judge according to precedent; and few minds have flexibility enough to adopt at once a novelty which is destined in its turn to become a precedent.
George Henry Lewes, from
'Dickens in Relation to Criticism'
Culture and Society in Britain, 1850 -1890, a
source book of contemporary writings, ed. J.M. Goldby. Oxford University
Press 1992; ISBN0-19-871112-3
The Critic: A fool rushes in
"I don't think a religion that makes the beautiful, near-naked body of a man being put to death by slow torture the centre of its worship can complain too vociferously about the goth fan club..."
Two Of Them"
Hearts In Uniform.
its a poor show if we're all so scared of each other nobody dares to give a bad book a bad name...or to be the first to praise a good book which has been dismissed by the ruling junta
It's not that I've changed my mind about contributing to the discourse or having the courage to be the awkward voice, but I've hung up my guns. I'll only review a book now if I can use it as a stepping off point for talking about a lot of things, and/or if I'm paid for the hit.
Or if the book is entirely wonderful, and no one knows.
Where Angels fear to tread