Lovely article in the Guardian by Alison Flood about scathing book reviews on books that have lasted the course.
Here’s just two examples:
Dorothy Parker on AA Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner
Dorothy Parker took an unforgettable approach to AA Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner in the New Yorker, starting with a quote from the book. “‘Well, you’ll see, Piglet, when you listen. Because this is how it begins. The more it snows, tiddely-pom-’ ‘Tiddely what’ said Piglet. (He took, as you might say, the very words out of your correspondent’s mouth.) ‘Pom,’ said Pooh. ‘I put that to make it more hummy.’ And it is that word ‘hummy’, my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader Fwowed up.”
James Lorimer on Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights
Among the baffled praise in contemporary reviews of Wuthering Heights, Lorimer’s piece in the North British Review stands out, attributing to it “all the faults of Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Brontë) … magnified a thousand fold, and the only consolation which we have in reflecting upon it is that it will never be generally read”. But this scorn is more than matched by the anonymous reviewer in Paterson’s Magazine: “We rise from the perusal of Wuthering Heights as if we had come fresh from a pest-house. Read Jane Eyre is our advice, but burn Wuthering Heights …”