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How Careful Should Critics Be in their Criticisms?

During his career as a writer, Edgar Allan Poe earned money as a literary critic. He could be ruthless in his opinions.

At the same time, a man named Rufus Griswold was a critic who was not always widely respected. He earned the disdain of Poe’s friends, and many others, when he took over Poe’s papers - after Poe died - and then massively edited them to make Poe look bad.

Of Griswold, one of Poe’s friends prophetically observed, in 1843:  “... what will be his fate? ... if he is spoken of hereafter, he will be quoted as the unfaithful servant who abused his trust.”

What is your view of critics whose criticism, generally speaking, can help to “sell” or “tank” a book or movie?

Are critics, who review books and films, helpful or not helpful? Explain your answer.

Do you think the public trusts some critics but not others? What explains the differing views?

Do you think that critics ever lean one way, or another, based on their friendship (or lack of friendship) with certain authors or movie makers? If that is true, would such critics be abusive of the public’s trust in them? Explain your answer.


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