Posted by: Phil Anderson | September 28, 2014


Sometimes criticism is helpful. It makes us aware of deficiencies and points out areas in ourselves or our work that need to be addressed. We should use criticism to evaluate ourselves and make improvements.

But helpful or not, criticism is also painful. It’s important to remember that criticism is subjective, and critics are not infallible.

To illustrate, here are some excerpts from Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections:

Wuthering Heights
Emily Bronte

“Here all the faults of Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Bronte) are magnified a thousand fold, and the only consolation which we have in reflecting upon it is that it will never be generally read.”

James Lorimer, North British Review

On Charles Dickens

“We do not believe in the permanence of his reputation… Fifty years hence, most of his allusions will be harder to understand than the illusions in The Duncaid, and our children will wonder what their ancestors could have meant by putting Mr. Dickens at the head of the novelists of his day.”

Saturday Review 1858

On Walt Whitman

“Incapable of true poetical originality, Whitman had the cleverness to invent a literary trick, and the shrewdness to stick to it.”

Peter Bayne, Contemporary Review 1875


What do you think? Is it encouraging to know that even the best writers get a bad review now and then? How do you respond to criticism? Leave comments below.


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