Friday, December 22, 2006

Passing judgements upon other people's work

Wherein I'm not sure what I expected, but I'm enjoying it more than I thought I would

I'm reading Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Here's a quote that tells you nothing about the book:
"Besides," said M. Norrell, "I really have no desire to write reviews of other people's books. Modern publications upon magic are the most pernicious things in the world, full of misinformation and wrong opinions."

"Then sir, you may say so. The ruder you are, the more the editors will be delighted."

"But it is my own opinions which I wish to make better known, not other people's."

"Ah, but, sir," said Lascelles, "it is precisely by passing judgements upon other people's work and pointing out their errors that readers can be made to understand your own opinions better. It is the easiest thing in the world to turn a review to one's own ends. One need only mention the book once or twice and for the rest of the article one may develop one's themes just as one chuses. It is, I assure you, what every body else does."

Since Ms. Clarke has worked as an editor at Simon and Schuster, I wonder if this more the author than the character.


Blogger Ahistoricality said...

It's a common complaint in academia, though it used to be much worse, actually. I imagine that it's even worse in literature and poetry, where there's less of a structure to these things.

Finished Quicksilver, by the way. Felt about it much the way you do about JS&MN (about which I am unabashedly a fan). Now I gotta get hold of the next volume...

12/22/2006 09:12:00 PM  

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