What do critics know, anyway?

I love Flavorwire, where Emily Temple, their brilliant but hard-to-find literary editor, is on the lookout for different ways of looking at books. Last month she published a list of 15 scathing reviews given to literary classics when they first came out; The Great Gatsby, Wuthering Heights, Catch 22 – all reviled. Here are some samples:

On Madame Bovary: “Monsieur Flaubert is not a writer.” — Le Figaro, 1857.

On Brave New World: “Mr. Huxley has been born too late. Seventy years ago, the great powers of his mind would have been anchored to some mighty certitude, or to some equally mighty scientific denial of a certitude. Today he searches heaven and earth for a Commandment, but searches in vain: and the lack of it reduces him, metaphorically speaking, to a man standing beside a midden, shuddering and holding his nose.” — L.A.G. Strong, 1932

On The Catcher in the Rye: “This Salinger, he’s a short story guy. And he knows how to write about kids. This book though, it’s too long. Gets kind of monotonous. And he should’ve cut out a lot about these jerks and all that crumby school. They depress me.” — James Stern, The New York Times, 1951

Read the whole article here