Orwell on reviewing

This item is pre-posted to appear while I’m away. I’ll return on the 10th or thereabouts.

From George Orwell’s Confessions of a Book Reviewer:

[T]he prolonged, indiscriminate reviewing of books …. not only involves praising trash — though it does involve that, as I will show in a moment — but constantly inventing reactions towards books about which one has no spontaneous feelings whatever….

It is almost impossible to mention books in bulk without grossly overpraising the great majority of them. Until one has some kind of professional relationship with books one does not discover how bad the majority of them are. In much more than nine cases out of ten the only objectively truthful criticism would be “This book is worthless”, while the truth about the reviewer’s own reaction would probably be “This book does not interest me in any way, and I would not write about it unless I were paid to.”


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