Quotations about   critic

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Popular art is normally decried as vulgar by the cultivated people of its time; then it loses favour with its original audience as a new generation grows up; then it begins to merge into the softer lighting of “quaint” and cultivated people become interested in it, and finally it begins to take on the archaic dignity of the primitive.

Northrop Frye (1912-1991) Canadian literary critic and literary theorist
Anatomy of Criticism, “Mythical Phase: Symbol as Archetype” (1957)
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Added on 15-Nov-21 | Last updated 15-Nov-21
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Vacerra likes no bards but those of old —
Only the poets dead are poets true!
Really, Vacerra — may I make so bold? —
It’s not worth dying to be liked by you.

[Miraris veteres, Vacerra, solos
nec laudas nisi mortuos poetas.
Ignoscas petimus, Vacerra: tanti
non est, ut placeam tibi, perire.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 8, epigram 69 (8.69) [tr. Duff (1929)]
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Original Latin. Alternate translations:

The ancients all your veneration have:
You like no poet on this side of the grave.
Yet, pray, excuse me; if to pleases you, I
Can hardly think it worth my while to die.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

Vacerra! you admire only the ancients; your praise is restricted to the deceased poets. Pardon me, Vacerra, if I do not think your praise of so much value as to die for it.
[tr. Amos (1858)]

You admire, Vacerra, only the poets of old, and praise only those who are dead. Pardon me, I beseech you, Vacerra, it I think death too high a price to pay for your praise.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

You admire, Vacerra, the ancients alone, and praise none but dead poets. Your pardon, pray, Vacerra: it is not worth my while, merely to please you, to die.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Deceased authors thou admir'st alone,
And only praisest poets dead and gone:
Vacerra, pardon me, I will not buy
Thy praise so dear, as for the same to die.
[tr. Fuller]

Added on 24-Jun-21 | Last updated 24-Jun-21
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A society is most vigorous, and appealing, when both partisan and critic are legitimate voices in the permanent dialogue that is the testing of ideas and experience. One can be a critic of one’s country without being an enemy of its promise.

Daniel Bell (1919-2011) American sociologist, writer, editor, academic
The End of Ideology, Introduction (1961 ed.)
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Added on 5-Apr-21 | Last updated 19-Apr-21
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The critic who at forty believes the same things he believed at twenty is either a genius or a jackass.

George Jean Nathan (1892-1958) American editor and critic
The World in Falseface, “Art & Criticism,” #62 (1923)
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Added on 4-Jan-21 | Last updated 4-Jan-21
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A critic is someone who enters the battlefield after the war is over and shoots the wounded.

Murray Kempton (1917-1997) American journalist.
(Attributed)

Generally attributed to Kempton (though sometimes as being about editorial writers rather than critics) without specific citation. More on this quote here.
Added on 23-May-20 | Last updated 23-May-20
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ANTON EGO: In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.

Brad Bird (b. 1957) American director, animator and screenwriter [Phillip Bradley Bird]
Ratatouille (2007)
Added on 12-Feb-20 | Last updated 12-Feb-20
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An activist is the guy who cleans the river, not the guy who concludes it’s dirty.

H. Ross Perot (1930-2019) American entrepreneur, politician, reformer [Henry Ross Perot, Sr.]
(Attributed)
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In Ken Gross, Ross Perot: The Man Behind the Myth, ch. 14 (1992). A favorite saying of Perot's, varying slightly over the years (e.g., "The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.").
Added on 9-Apr-18 | Last updated 9-Apr-18
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If poetry is like an orgasm, an academic can be likened to someone who studies the passion-stains on the bedsheets.

Irving Layton (1912-2006) Romanian-Canadian poet [b. Israel Pincu Lazarovitch]
“Obs II,” The Whole Bloody Bird (1969)
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Added on 1-Jun-17 | Last updated 1-Jun-17
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The writer’s role is to menace the public’s conscience. He must have a position, a point of view. He must see the arts as a vehicle of social criticism and he must focus on the issues of his time.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
Speech, Library of Congress (1968)
Added on 1-May-17 | Last updated 1-May-17
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And remember, your critics want you to be as unhappy, unfulfilled and unimportant as they are. Let your happiness eat them up from inside.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Twitter (15 Nov 2011)
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Added on 11-Aug-16 | Last updated 11-Aug-16
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The covers of this book are too far apart.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
(Attributed)

One-sentence book review. First attributed to Bierce in 1923, but showing up in anonymous humor as early as 1899. See here for more information.
Added on 31-Mar-16 | Last updated 31-Mar-16
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Blame where you must, be candid where you can,
And be each critic the Good-Natured Man.

Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774) Irish poet, playwright, novelist
The Good-Natur’d Man, Epilogue (1768)
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Added on 21-Mar-16 | Last updated 18-Mar-16
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Those see nothing but Faults that seek for nothing else.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #5021 (1732)
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Added on 9-Feb-16 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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He that applauds him who does not deserve praise, is endeavoring to deceive the public; he that hisses in malice or sport, is an oppressor and a robber.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler (7 Oct 1758)
Added on 25-Aug-14 | Last updated 25-Aug-14
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While an author is yet living we estimate his powers by his worst performance, and when he is dead we rate them by his best.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Plays of William Shakespeare, Preface (1765)
Added on 13-Jun-14 | Last updated 13-Jun-14
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I am strongly of opinion that an author had far better not read any reviews of his books: the unfavourable ones are almost certain to make him cross, and the favourable ones conceited; and neither of these results is desirable.

Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) English writer and mathematician [pseud. of Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson]
Sylvie and Bruno (1889)
Added on 10-Jun-14 | Last updated 10-Jun-14
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Think before you speak is criticism’s motto; speak before you think, creation’s.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“The Raison d’E’tre of Criticism in the Arts,” Two Cheers for Democracy (1951)
Added on 12-May-14 | Last updated 12-May-14
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If the headline asks a question, try answering “no.” Is This the True Face of Britain’s Young? (Sensible reader: No.) Have We Found the Cure for AIDS? (No; or you wouldn’t have put the question mark in.) Does This Map Provide the Key for Peace? (Probably not.) A headline with a question mark at the end means, in the vast majority of cases, that the story is tendentious or over-sold. It is often a scare story, or an attempt to elevate some run-of-the-mill piece of reporting into a national controversy and, preferably, a national panic. To a busy journalist hunting for real information a question mark means “don’t bother reading this bit.”

Andrew Marr (b. 1959) Scottish journalist and political commentator
My Trade (2004)

See Betteridge.
Added on 5-Feb-14 | Last updated 5-Feb-14
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A certain critic — for such men, I regret to say, do exist — made the nasty remark about my last novel that it contained ‘all the old Wodehouse characters under different names’. He has probably now been eaten by bears, like the children who made mock of the prophet Elisha: but if he still survives he will not be able to make a similar charge against Summer Lightning. With my superior intelligence, I have outgeneralled this man by putting in all the old Wodehouse characters under the same names. Pretty silly it will make him feel, I rather fancy.

P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) Anglo-American humorist, playwright and lyricist [Pelham Grenville Wodehouse]
Summer Lightning, Preface (1929)
Added on 13-Jul-09 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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Rare is the person who can weigh the faults of others without putting his thumb on the scales.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Byron J. Langenfeld
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 4-Apr-14
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