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CRITICS
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[ Also see Criticism ]

He who would reproach an author for obscurity should look into his own mind to see whether it is quite clear there. In the dusk the plainest writing is illegible.
      - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A critic should be a pair of snuffers. He is oftener an extinguisher, and not seldom a thief.
      - A.W. Hare and J.C. Hare

The severest critics are always those who have either never attempted, or who have failed in original composition.
      - William Hazlitt (1)

Why will you be always sallying out to break lances with other people's wind-mills, when your own is not capable of grinding corn for the horse you ride?
      - Josiah Gilbert Holland (used pseudonym Timothy Titcomb)

What a blessed thing it is that nature, when she invented, manufactured and patented her authors, contrived to make critics out of the chips that were left!
      - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

The fangs of a bear, and the tusks of a wild boar, do not bite worse and make deeper gashes than a goose-quill sometimes; no, not even the badger himself, who is said to be so tenacious of his bite that he will not give over his hold till he feels his teeth meet and the bones crack.
      - James Howell (Howel)

I had rather be hissed for a good verse than applauded for a bad one.
      - Victor Hugo

Critics are a kind of freebooters in the republic of letters--who, like deer, goats and divers other graminivorous animals, gain subsistence by gorging upon buds and leaves of the young shrubs of the forest, thereby robbing them of their verdure, and retarding their progress to maturity.
      - Washington Irving

Critics, like the rest of mankind, are very frequently misled by interest.
      - Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature")

It is advantageous to an author that his book should be attacked as well as raised. Fame is a shuttlecock. If it be struck only at one end of the room it will soon fall to the ground. To keep it up it must be struck at both ends.
      - Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature")

The animadversions of critics are commonly such as may easily provoke the sedatest writer to some quickness of resentment and asperity of reply.
      - Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature")

The care of the critic should be to distinguish error from inability, faults of inexperience from defects of nature.
      - Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature")

There is a certain race of men that either imagine it their duty, or make it their amusement, to hinder the reception of every work of learning or genius, who stand as sentinels in the avenues of fame, and value themselves upon giving ignorance and envy the first notice of a prey.
      - Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature")

'Tis, mot the wholesome sharp morality,
  Or modest anger of a satiric spirit,
    That hurts or wounds the body of a state,
      But the sinister application
        Of the malicious, ignorant, and base
          Interpreter; who will distort and strain
            The general scope and purpose of an author
              To his particular and private spleen.
      - Ben Jonson

Professional critics are incapable of distinguishing and appreciating either diamonds in the rough state or gold in bars. They are traders, and in literature know only the coins that are current. Their criticism has scales and weights, but neither crucible nor touchstone.
      - Joseph Joubert

Those readiest to criticise are often least able to appreciate.
      - Joseph Joubert

It behooves the minor critic who hunts for blemishes to be a little distrustful of his own sagacity.
      - Junius (pseudonym, possibly of Sir Philip Francis)

A critic is never too severe when he only detects the faults of an author. But he is worse than too severe when, in consequence of this detection, be presumes to place himself on a level with genius.
      - Walter Savage Landor

The eyes of critics, whether in commending or carping, are both on one side, like a turbot's.
      - Walter Savage Landor

Some critics are like chimney-sweepers; they put out the fire below, and frighten the swallows from their nests above; they scrape a long time in the chimney, cover themselves with soot, and bring nothing away but a bag of cinders, and then sing from the top of the house as if they had built it.
      - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Good by reason of its exceeding badness.
      - Thomas Babington Macaulay

I criticise by creation, not by finding fault.
      - Michelangelo (Michelangelo Buonarrotti)

We should be wary what persecution we raise against the living labors of public men, how we spill that seasoned life of man, preserved and stored up in books, since we see a kind of homicide may be thus committed, sometimes a martyrdom; and if it extend to the whole impression, a kind of massacre, whereof the execution ends not in the slaying of an elemental life, but strikes at the ethereal and fifth essence, the breath of reason itself; slays an immortality rather than a life.
      - John Milton

It is the heart that makes the critic, not the nose.
      - (Friedrich) Max Muller

The critic is a literary educator, a professor of literature with a class which embraces the entire reading community. He is to instruct, if be can; he is to judge fairly and to "give his own to each;" but his main business is to stimulate the minds of people, to conduct a live conversation with the public concerning the books they are reading.
      - Ehrman Syme Nadal


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