The Best Things Ever Said about Critics

They who are to be judges must also be performers.


Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)



Critics are like brushers of noblemen’s clothes.


Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639)




There be some men are born only to suck out the poison of books.


Ben Jonson (1573-1637)




Critics avaunt! for you are fish of prey, and feed, like sharks, upon an infant play.


William Congreve (1670-1729)




Some have at first for Wits, then Poets past,

Turned Critics next, and proved plain Fools at last.


Alexander Pope (1688-1744)




 Nature fits all her children with something to do,

 He who would write and can’t write, can surely review.


Henry Fielding (1707-1754)




Criticism is a study by which men grow important and formidable at very small expense.


It is advantageous to an author that his book should be attacked as well as praised. Fame is a shuttlecock. If it be struck at only 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 (1709-1784)



Critic! Appalled I ventured on the name.

Those cutthroat bandits in the paths of fame.


Robert Burns (1759-1796)




I never read a book before reviewing it. It prejudices one so.


Sydney Smith (1771-1845)




Reviewers are usually people who would have been poets, historians, biographers, if they could; they have tried their talents at one or the other, and have failed; therefore they turn critics.


Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)




For critics I care the five hundred thousandth part of the tythe of a half-farthing.


Charles Lamb (1775-1834)




A critic does nothing now-a-days who does not try to torture the most obvious expression into a thousand meanings, and enter into a circuitous explanation of all that can be urged for or against its being in the best or worst style possible. His object indeed is not to do justice to his author, whom he treats with very little ceremony, but to do himself homage, and to show his acquaintance with all topics and resources of criticism.


William Hazlitt (1778-1830)




Criticism is like champagne, nothing more execrable when bad, nothing more excellent when good.


C. C. Colton (1780-1832)




As soon

Seek roses in December—ice in June;

Hope constancy in wind, or corn in chaff;

Believe a woman or an epitaph,

Or any other thing that’s false, before

You trust in critics.


Lord Byron (1788-1824)




Reviewers, with some rare exceptions, are a most stupid and malignant race. As a bankrupt thief turns thief-taker, so an unsuccessful author turns critic.


Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)




You know who critics are—the men who have failed in literature and art.


Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)




Critics are sentinels in the grand army of letters, stationed at the corners of newspapers and reviews, to challenge every new author.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)




Nature, when she invented, manufactured, and patented authors, contrived to make critics out of the chips that were left.


Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)




The trade of critic, in literature, music, and the drama, is the most degraded of all trades.


I like criticism, but it must be my way.


Mark Twain (1835-1910)



CRITIC, n. A person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him.


Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?)




A dramatic critic is a man who leaves no turn unstoned.


George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)




A critic is a man created to praise greater men than himself, but he is never able to find them.


Richard Le Gallienne (1866-1947)




A drama critic is a person who surprises the playwright by informing him of what he meant.


Wilson Mizner (1876-1933)




A critic is a legless man who teaches running.


Channing Pollock (1880-1946)




Criticism is prejudice made plausible.


H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)




I love every bone in their heads.


Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953)




The greater part of critics are parasites, who, if nothing had been written, would find nothing to write.


J. B. Priestly (1894-1984)




One battle doesn’t make a campaign, but critics treat one book, good or bad, like a whole war.


God knows people who are paid to have attitudes toward things, professional critics, make me sick; camp following eunuchs of literature.


Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)




Unless the bastards have the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore them.


Time is the only critic without ambition.


John Steinbeck (1902-1968)




Book reviewers are little old ladies of both sexes.


John O’Hara (1905-1970)



The critic should describe, not prescribe.


 Eugene Ionesco (1909-1994)



The critics slap labels on you and then expect you to talk inside their terms.


Doris Lessing (1919-2013)



Don’t bow down to critics who have not themselves written great masterpieces.


Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919- )



Critics are like eunuchs in a harem. They’re there every night, they see it done every night, they see how it should be done every night, but they can’t do it themselves.


Brendan Behan (1923-1964)




American critics are like American universities. They both have dull and half-dead faculties.


The difference between critics and audiences is that one is a group of humans and one is not.


Edward Albee (1928- )




Critics are like pigs at the pastry cart.


John Updike (1932-2009)




Life is much simpler ignoring reviews and the nasty people who write them. Critics should find meaningful work.


John Grisham (1955- )



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