Nasty critics

On paper Walter was all he failed to be in life. His reviews were epigrammatically ruthless. Poor earnest spinsters, when they read what he had written of their heartfelt poems about God and Passion and The Beauties of Nature, were cut to the quick by his brutal contempt. The big-game shooters who had so much enjoyed their African trip would wonder how the account of anything so interesting could be called tedious. The young novelists who had modelled their styles and their epical conceptions on those of the best authors, who had daringly uncovered the secrets of their most intimate and sexual life, were hurt, were amazed, were indignant to learn that their writing was stilted, their construction non-existent, their psychology unreal, their drama stagey and melodramatic. A bad book is as much of a labour to write as a good one; it comes as sincerely from the author’s soul… Nature is monstrously unjust. There is no substitute for talent. Industry and all the virtues are of no avail.  Immersed in his Tripe, Walter ferociously commented on lack of talent. Conscious of their industry, sincerity and good artistic intentions, the authors of the Tripe felt themselves outrageously and unfairly treated. 


Aldous Huxley Point Counterpoint 214

6 thoughts on “Nasty critics

  1. Nasty critics are good for a laugh after you’ve got over the stage of wanting to slash your wrists because of the rude things they’ve said about you. Apparently Balzac used to write his own reviews – in revenge or perhaps despair. Nice if you can get away with it.

  2. Writing is so humbling. You put your soul out there and your at the mercy of the masses. No need for brutal criticism. What ever happened to constructive criticism?

    1. Criticism has become blander I think in the mainstream press. A lot of it ‘s driven by commercial interests, and it’s rare to see a reviewer who goes against the crowd. I don’t see much really brutal criticism – and what I do see seems driven more by personal dislike of the author than by faults in the book.

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