British Literary Editor Bemoans Current State of Literary Criticism

The chair of this year’s Man Booker Prize, and the editor of the Times Literary Supplement, does not like all these uninformed opinions about literature flitting about the Internet. Indeed, Sir Peter Stothard fears for the very state of serious literature and criticism.

“Eventually that will be to the detriment of literature. It will be bad for readers; as much as one would like to think that many bloggers opinions are as good as others. It just ain’t so,” Sir Peter Stothard told the Independent, we imagine over a proper tea service. “People will be encouraged to buy and read books that are no good, the good will be overwhelmed, and we’ll be worse off.”

Mr. Stothard (Sir Peter? We can’t seem to find our British stylebook anywhere) is a ‘blogger’ himself, but he writes 900 word essays about rereading Shakespeare for the TLS blog. And I think we can all agree that the TLS blog is in not the kind of blog Mr. Stothard is talking about.

Meanwhile, Mr. Stothard is hard at work whittling down the shortlist. The winner of the Man Booker Prizewill be announced on October 16.

“It was hard work. In a normal year, you might read 20 novels. So to read 145 in seven months is an unnatural act,” he said. “But it’s an important unnatural act because in a way literary criticism is an unnatural act. It is work, a technique, a skill.”

Mr. Stothard’s criteria are a bit different than last year’s Man Booker chair Stella Rimington. Ms. Rimington said she wanted to choose books “people will read and enjoy.”

She was criticized for dumbing down the award. We don’t imagine the same will be said about Mr. Stothard. British Literary Editor Bemoans Current State of Literary Criticism