Slate Reviews a Book Review on Keats

Check out Slate’s essay on How Not to Write a Bad Book Review. Poor John Keats received more bad book reviews than good ones in his short life, leading his friends to claim that it was the Reviewers that done him in, not consumption.

Croker and Lockhart get a bad rap in the article, but to be fair, all of the major romantic poets were quote-unquote misunderstood geniuses in their own time, and bad reviews were not uncommon in the leading journals. (See also Francis Jeffrey, the resident baddie of the Edinburgh Review.) In fact, the romantic poets often criticized each other, lambasting their comrades in parodies ranging from Byron’s Don Juan to Peacock’s Nightmare Abbey.

Do you think book reviewers have gone soft? Or are you glad that vitriolic responses to literature are a thing of the past?

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3 thoughts on “Slate Reviews a Book Review on Keats

  1. Amateur Reader says:

    There's no comparison to the glory days of the early 19th century, to mighty Tomahawk Poe, for example.But – I actually read quite a few rough reviews. The New Republic pulls no punches; The New York Review of Books is a bit more genteel but still sets some space aside for bloodsport; Open Letter Monthly has an annual review of the best seller list which is not necessarily negative but who are we kidding.Still, you are completely right in the important sense – today's hack and slashers are adorable kittens compared to Jeffrey.

  2. Neurotic Workaholic says:

    I guess it depends. A lot of the reviews I read are on Amazon, and a lot of the people who post reviews on Amazon can be very harsh (and even nasty at times). The professional reviews that I've read in newspapers and magazines, on the other hand, can be critical but are nowhere near as mean as some of the Amazon reviews.

  3. Anna says:

    "'The Harbinger – Edited by the Brook-Farm Phalanx' – is, beyond doubt, the most reputable organ of the Crazyites." Clearly I have been reading the wrong 19th century book reviews! How did I miss this gem?I glance at Amazon book reviews, but too often the Kindle reviews are things like, "The formatting was bad." Ok, but what about the story?

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