A Cracked Criticism

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Isn’t it just awful, when you try to say something smart and it comes out stupid?

Here’s a comment by novelist and literary critic A.N. Wilson, found on the back cover of an Agatha Christie book. Pay very close attention to it.

“Time and again Agatha Christie pulled off what many obviously greater writers labored for in vain, a work of art which is both perfectly crafted and morally satisfying.”

Uh… “obviously greater writers,” you say? Who “labored in vain” to do things that Christie could do? I don’t get how not being able to match her makes them greater. It certainly wouldn’t be obvious to me. It sounds like talking about “obviously greater jumpers” who can’t jump as high as the person they’re supposed to be greater jumpers than. Which is not the most elegant sentence I ever wrote, but never mind.

Ah, well. Mustn’t be too hard on Mr. Wilson. His books have come in for a healthy share of shredding.

Literary criticism has its uses. You can line your bird cage with it, or fold it into a paper hat.

7 comments on “A Cracked Criticism

  1. There are so many people with attitudes like this. They actually think anyone cares what they think?

    1. This poor guy has been absolutely fricaseed by some of his reviewers, so I have been more gentle with him than I was first inclined to be.

  2. Indeed. Homer, Virgil, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Austen, and Dickens “labored in vain” and just somehow couldn’t “pull it off” the way Agatha Christie did. Tsk.

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