October 19, 2009



And yet Maud Newton basically repeats Wood's central criticism of Byatt in her own, ostensibly more positive review. She writes:

"While all of these events are skillfully orchestrated and entirely plausible, the culminating tragedy to which they eventually point feels imposed -- almost Calvinist in its predestined tenor -- rather than organic. Tom becomes, in effect, a casualty of Byatt's tyrannical omniscience. We can believe that he might do the terrible thing he does, but we haven't been granted enough access to his deepest feelings and motivations for his actions to resonate."


Burt L, friend to all

Maud Newton's post is thin. Merely stating you find a critique "ludicrous" and then quoting yourself at length doesn't make for a very convincing rejoinder.


Burt, I don't agree with you. She is registering an opposing point of view and then allowing her review to speak for her. Nothing "thin" about that.


Niall, though her review might dovetail in places with Wood's, I think it's pretty clear reading the whole thing that she reaches a very different conclusion. Nothing that odd, to me, about two thoughtful readers seeing some similar things in a book, and going in different directions with it.


Oh I don't have any problem with reviewers reaching different conclusions. What struck very specifically as odd about Newton's review is that she repeats the Wood's central criticism of the same book, but doesn't seem to realize she is doing so.

Burt L, friend to all

TEV: yes, but her review basically says little more than "I like A.S. Byatt" ("so spellbinding it invaded my dreams"). It's just argument by assertion - it doesn't address Wood's critique in any meaningful way. If you're going to call something "ludicrous," you need to back it up, IMHO.


TEV: Hence the irony of her agreement with his critique. Which makes her seem clueless as well as pointlessly oppositional.


Ignore my comment above. I realize now I wasn't responding to you, TEV. Sorry.

Edan Lepucki

Mr. Rochester? Really? Be careful, ladies, or you might end up in the attic. My husband just said, "Humbert Humbert came in second." Ha!

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