As an aspiring writer, I know that critiques are important and I also agree on the fact that every kind of critique should be accepted in order to learn from it.
I’m aware that I don’t handle very well negative critiques, as you could read from last year’s posts, but still that woman was very mean to me. So, I might not like negative feedback, but I’m intelligent enough to accept them as long as they’re constructive.
What I really mean to say in this post is that I just have a problem with critics!
I hate those endless critique books you’re forced to study when you’re in school, because I don’t understand them. As simple as that!
Maybe it’s just my fault, but the common traits I see in all of them (and with them I mean history of art and literature criticism books) are: they have to talk difficult, they talk too much to say one thing and most of the times they force/imagine things.
I’ve always thought this way but lately I received as a present a book preceded by a critique introduction and my hatred was triggered again. I’m talking about The Three Musketeers by Dumas in the specific but I want to go for a general overview.
I agree that a critic, as his or her job requires, wants to analyse the book or the work of art as they are and maybe insert them in a period and particular current of art. Also it seems they want to fill some blanks not very clear and left unexplained by the artist. But this is where their job should end. And I’m allowing them more than they should have. Even explaining some blank spaces or unclear scenes should be classified as an opinion rather than as a certain given truth.
A silly example: say that Madame Bovary wasn’t about her, but about Mr. Bovary. Her suicide at the end would be less clear, right? Now, that would be a very big question mark. And of course the critics would feel entitled to fill that gap saying that probably she was feeling mistreated or sad or depressed or she had a vision of the God Anubis saying “either you kill yourself or I’ll get you sooner or later” and decided to kill herself to put the word end to her misery.
Maybe they can even get to the point of saying that Gustave Flaubert was one of the pioneers of the sci-fi literature and we could have an explanation as the following. When in her daydreams Mrs Bovary seemed detached from the reality, the truth was she was actually leaving behind her everyday life and she was instead travelling on board of a TARDIS – like spaceship and once back in the sad life of the countryside for good she couldn’t bear it.
Ok, all right, I’m exaggerating…maybe!
But that’s exactly what I see and what I get from these introductions or books. Whenever I manage to decipher the difficult language, that actually I think it’s there to narrow the readers’ numbers, I think that they really are making an effort to fit all they say in the book or the picture they’re reviewing and more often than not, they exaggerate things.
As an artist myself, or if you’re really picky, as an aspiring writer myself, I know perfectly well that when the inspiration hits, you have to put words on paper. And of course it’s also normal to do a minimum of marketing research to see if my book about yellow pirate monkeys will sell or the market is sick and tired of hear stories about them.
But a part from this kind of marketing research, the inspiration is the thing that just counts in creating something. That is something I strongly believe. Nobody else is in your head but you! So how could someone else interpret your thoughts if you don’t clearly state something?
For example: while on tills in work comes a family of four, the mother is full of bruises and the children are very silent. In my head this can be translated in a story about a violent father or about what the surviving part of a whole family would do to distract them after a tragedy.
I can write a mystery story, I can write a fantasy, whatever. But that’s what triggered the next bestseller.
To be honest with you, I’d be very annoyed if, travelling to the future, I’d find my name in a critic book where someone decided to speculate on what happened in my childhood that brought me to that piece of writing!
Ok I said that! And I hope I’ve been clear enough!
What do you think about critics? Or professional critique, excluding personal feedback on books?
Am I the only one finding that difficult to accept and understand?