Finding Comfort in Famous Authors’ Bad Reviews

For your early afternoon amusement…negative reviews of Joseph Conrad. A sample:

An Outcast of the Islands is a disagreeable story of reckless men, disgusting women, and repulsive scenes. As a study of character, it must be, from the author’s point of view, a success. But the environment among the Malays and the savages of the East Coast is anything but agreeable. It seems a waste of one’s talents to write such a story.

Authors facing the onslaught of reviewers hold these old notices close for comfort, I know. I’ve done it. “Hell, even Shakespeare got bad press,” I tell myself as I lie in the fetal position beneath my desk. But every time I do, I recall a dialog exchange in the Stanley Donen version of Bedazzled that limns (I don’t have to pay Michiko Kakutani royalties for the use of that word, do I?) the problem with that kind of thinking:

Stanley Moon: You’re a nutcase! You’re a bleedin’ nutcase!
George Spiggott: They said the same of Jesus Christ, Freud, and Galileo.
Stanley Moon: They said it of a lot of nutcases too.
George Spiggott: You’re not as stupid as you look, are you, Mr. Moon?

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