Interesting post as ever by Patrick Kurp on the role of the critic.
A brief excerpt:
“A critic must write well, care about books and possess good taste and good sense. If his prose is slipshod or dull, if ideology means more to him than style, if he claims to admire bad or mediocre books, he loses the thoughtful reader’s respect. And while celebration makes for the best criticism, negative reviews in the right hands can be turned into the mirror-image of celebration, and usually offer more opportunities for laughs.”
I’m with that pretty much all the way. The best critics have a passion for literature, a desire to stand up for what’s good and knock down what’s bad. I doubt whether ideology can be separated from these judgements in the clear-cut way described above, but one should try.
While all critical judgements are subjective, they need to be argued for. There are more than enough people these days arguing that everything is relative and no opinion counts for more than any other, which is, I think, an abdication of responsible thought, as if – for the first time in history – 21st century human beings have neither the capacity nor the will to discriminate between what’s worth carrying forward and what ought to be dumped on the kerbside.