A reader who quarrels with postulates, who dislikes Hamlet because he does not believe that there are ghosts or that people speak in pentameters, clearly has no business in literature. He cannot distinguish fiction from fact, and belongs in the same category as the people who send checks to radio stations for the relief of suffering heroines in soap operas.
Best Quotes about Criticism
God knows people who are paid to have attitudes toward things, professional critics, make me sick; camp following eunuchs of literature. They won't even whore. They're all virtuous and sterile. And how well meaning and high minded. But they're all camp followers.
What we ask of him is, that he should find out for us more than we can find out for ourselves. He must have the passion of a lover.
If evil be spoken of you and it be true, correct yourself, if it be a lie, laugh at it.
I am sorry to think that you do not get a man's most effective criticism until you provoke him. Severe truth is expressed with some bitterness.
Thoreau, Henry David
It is impossible to think of a man of any actual force and originality, universally recognized as having those qualities, who spent his whole life appraising and describing the work of other men.
Mencken, H. L.
A sneer is the weapon of the weak.
Lowell, James Russell
If you burn your neighbors house down, it doesn't make your house look any better.
Good critical writing is measured by the perception and evaluation of the subject; bad critical writing by the necessity of maintaining the professional standing of the critic.
Of all the cants which are canted in this canting world -- though the cant of hypocrites may be the worst -- the cant of criticism is the most tormenting!
Genuine polemics approach a book as lovingly as a cannibal spices a baby.
Though by whim, envy, or resentment led, they damn those authors whom they never read.
I'd rather be hissed at for a good verse, than applauded for a bad one.
Prolonged, indiscriminate reviewing of books is a quite exceptionally thankless, irritating and exhausting job. It not only involves praising trash but constantly inventing reactions towards books about which one has no spontaneous feeling whatever.
Let me walk three weeks in the footsteps of my enemy, carry the same burden, have the same trials as he, before I say one word to criticize.
The greatest honor that can be paid to the work of art, on its pedestal of ritual display, is to describe it with sensory completeness. We need a science of description. Criticism is ceremonial revivification.
Reviewers, with some rare exceptions, are a most stupid and malignant race. As a bankrupt thief turns thief-taker in despair, so an unsuccessful author turns critic.
Shelley, Percy Bysshe
Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger.
Franklin P. Jones
After all, one knows one's weak points so well, that it's rather bewildering to have the critics overlook them and invent others.
In my conscience I believe the baggage loves me, for she never speaks well of me herself, nor suffers any body else to rail at me.
They condemn what they do not understand.
Cicero, Marcus T.
Never criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins.
Native American Proverb
Each generation produces its squad of moderns with peashooters to attack Gibraltar.
In an age of unscrupulous and shameless book-making, it is a duty to give notice of the rubbish that cumbers the ground. There is no credit, no real power required for this task. It is the work of an intellectual scavenger, and far from being specially honorable.
Hutton, R. H.
There has never been a statue erected to honor a critic.
Unless criticism refuses to take itself quite so seriously or at least to permit its readers not to, it will inevitably continue to reflect the finicky canons of the genteel tradition and the depressing pieties of the Culture Religion of Modernism.
Criticism, that fine flower of personal expression in the garden of letters.
Professional critics are incapable of distinguishing and appreciating either diamonds in the rough or gold in bars. They are traders, and in literature know only the coins that are current. Their critical lab has scales and weights, but neither crucible or touchstone.
The strength of criticism lies in the weakness of the thing criticized.
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth
Since we cannot attain unto it, let us revenge ourselves with railing against it.
Montaigne, Michel Eyquem De
A drama critic is a person who surprises the playwright by informing him what he meant.
Social criticism begins with grammar and the re-establishing of meanings.
We have our little theory on all human and divine things. Poetry, the workings of genius itself, which, in all times, with one or another meaning, has been called Inspiration, and held to be mysterious and inscrutable, is no longer without its scientific exposition. The building of the lofty rhyme is like any other masonry or bricklaying: we have theories of its rise, height, decline and fall -- which latter, it would seem, is now near, among all people.
The author himself is the best judge of his own performance; none has so deeply meditated on the subject; none is so sincerely interested in the event.
There are two insults no human will endure. The assertion that he has no sense of humor and the doubly impertinent assertion that he has never known trouble.
Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
You're never s good as everyone tells you when you win, and you're never as bad as they say when you lose.
The biggest critics of my books are people who never read them.
We protest against unjust criticism but we accept unarmed applause.
One cannot review a bad book without showing off.
W. H. Auden
Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
As a work of art it has the same status as a long conversation between two not very bright drunks.
Critical remarks are only made by people who love you.
If you must speak ill of another, do not speak it, write it in the sand near the water's edge
Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamp-post what it feels about dogs.
It is the nature of the artist to mind excessively what is said about him. Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.
Recognize the cunning man not by the corpses he pays homage to but by the living writers he conspires against with the most shameful weapon, Silence, or the briefest review.
We might remind ourselves that criticism is as inevitable as breathing, and that we should be none the worse for articulating what passes in our minds when we read a book and feel an emotion about it, for criticizing our own minds in their work of criticism.
Eliot, T. S.
If I care to listen to every criticism, let alone act on them, then this shop may as well be closed for all other businesses. I have learned to do my best, and if the end result is good then I do not care for any criticism, but if the end result is not good, then even the praise of ten angels would not make the difference.
Most critical writing is drivel and half of it is dishonest. It is a short cut to oblivion, anyway. Thinking in terms of ideas destroys the power to think in terms of emotions and sensations.
Any critic is entitled to wrong judgments, of course. But certain lapses of judgment indicate the radical failure of an entire sensibility.
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