Monday, September 2, 2013

Top ten vicious literary hatchet jobs

In February 2013 Rupert Hawksley tagged his top ten vicious literary hatchet jobs for the Telegraph. One entry on the list:
Henry James on Anthony Trollope (1866)

Well before Henry James went on to become the celebrated author of The Portrait of a Lady, he was dismissing some of the great novelists. Even Dickens did not escape James’s sharpened quill, but it is his treatment of Anthony Trollope in a review of The Belton Estate that is still so devastating: "It is utterly incompetent to the primary functions of a book…", he wrote.

"We do not open his books with the expectation of being thrilled, or convinced, or deeply moved in any way, and, accordingly, when we find one to be as flat as a Dutch landscape, we remind ourselves that we have wittingly travelled into Holland, and that we have no right to abuse the scenery for being in character."

"Our great objection to The Belton Estate is that, as we read it, we seemed to be reading a work written for children; a work prepared for minds unable to think; a work below the apprehension of the average man and woman…"
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue