Back in the day I wrote a post about the usefulness of negative reviews. Yesterday I was chastised by S. T. Coleridge, who in his Biographia Literaria had this to say:
“He who tells me that there are defects in a new work, tells me nothing which I should not have taken for granted without his information. But he, who points out and elucidates the beauties of an original work, does indeed give me interesting information, such as experience would not have authorised me in anticipating.”
(Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, The Collected Works, Vol. 7, p. 62).
It seems I stand corrected. According to Coleridge, readers are more likely to learn something useful about the book from a positive review rather than a negative.
I should add that many volumes have been written about the Romantics and their Reviewers and that Coleridge’s position is neither unique nor surprising in the canon of Romantic self-reflection. But this is the first instance I’ve read of a poet talking specifically about the merits of reviews and what constitutes a good review.
What’s your stance on the positive/negative review debate?