Thursday, 17 May 2012


My, how those Victorian greats disliked the other Victorian greats!

CHARLES DICKENS.  His eye rests always on surfaces; he has no insight into character. [Emerson, Journals (1839)]

CHARLES DICKENS. 'A child of genius, but only a child, he never progresses, never improves, never studies, never restrains. [John Brown, 6 Dec 1855; Letters (1907), 107]

JOHN STUART MILL.  'An utterly shallow wretched segment of human creature, incapable of understanding anything in the ultimate condition of it.' [John Ruskin, 12 Sept 1869; Letters to Charles Eliot Norton (1905), 1:245]

MACAULAY'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND.  'Full of low merits; it is like English manufactures of all kinds, neat, convenient, portable, saleable, made on purpose for Harpers to print a hundred thousand copies of.' [Emerson, Journals (1850)]

THACKERAY.  'A first rate journey-man, though not a great artist' [Matthew Arnold, 1853; Letters to Arthur Hugh Clough (1932), 132]
BULWER LYTTON. 'Essentially a man of tinsel; with versatile powers, but without genius. Dead, he and his works, as soon as he dies. [Charles Eliot Norton, 1873; Letters (1913), 1:461]
GEORGE ELIOT. 'Her views of life, of God, of all that is deepest and truest in man, are low, miserable, hopeless, and she seems always wishing to drag her readers down to her dead level ... she is unwholesome and in a high sense unreal, and I trust that in fifty years she will be forgotten except by critics.  [John Brown, 24 December 1872; Letters (1907), 213-14]
'That disgusting Mill of the Floss' [John Ruskin, Hortus Inclusus (1887), 122]
JOSEPH CONRAD.  'A completely worthless writer' [George Moore, Life (1936), 325]
See Holbrook Jackson, Bookman's Holiday (Faber 1945) for more.


Desempleado said...

Hi nice blog! Good sentences! If you know spanish come visit me :)

Ruzz said...

Plus ca change.

P.s. who was John Brown - in this context?

Adam Roberts said...

Ruzz -- this gentleman:

He was friends with many literary people, Thackeray especially.