After publishing my commentary on book reviews the other day (see This is not a review), I was intrigued by this discussion of the role of the literary critic. The article by the Times literary editor published in the Guardian smacks of elitism, but it also raises an interesting question: What is the role of the critic in the determination of literary art?
Art, it seems to me, is not only something new, but something that influences the future of the form. Is a book art because a critic tells us it’s so? I distinguish between book reviewing and literary criticism. The first is an immediate reaction (and few reviews, except perhaps retrospective ones, achieve the level of literary criticism); the second requires more time to trace the roots and assess the subsequent impact of the work. Readers want reviewers to tell them if something is worth reading, not if it is art. If it is art, it will take care of itself. –TG
According to Peter Stothard, this year’s chair of the Man Booker Prize judges, book bloggers are harming literature. Well thanks, Peter. Thanks a lot. I’m sure there are many people who have come across my blog who might have been indifferent or in strong disagreement with my reviews but I never expected the whole concept of my blog to be accused of being detrimental to literature. That seems quite extreme to me.
I am not a professional critic. I enjoy reading books and nobody pays me to write reviews. I did not study English Literature at university. I do not work in publishing or journalism. As a blogger, I don’t have an editor to check my posts and I know my writing isn’t perfect. However, I completely reject Stothard’s assertion that blogging is drowning out ‘serious criticism’. He appears to have lumped all bloggers into the category of what…
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