Caveat Lector!


  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 Sheri Tepper  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
or find the article on JSTOR, if you subscribe




The Critic: A fool rushes in

"String Of Pearls"

"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..."

"The Two Of Them"
Joanna Russ Deconstructs Space Opera

Wild Hearts In Uniform.
The secret loves of Military Sf, for Fictions, ed Proietti &Suvin

The Grail Legend
(Emma Jung psychoanalyses the Grail, reviewed for Paradoxa, ed. David Williamson)

Ancillary Justice
(Ann Leckie's Milsf game; with added Distributed Intelligence)

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

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