Book bloggers are damaging literature?!

Having a little browse on twitter to find that someone had retweeted an article from The Guardian. In it, literary critic and snob Peter Stothard criticises literary bloggers, arguing that their online opinions are damaging to the literary canon. Read the full story here

Um. What? What I am reading here is the typical snobbery of the British upper class who insist on sticking to old traditions, and just as typically drown out the opinions of the normal, working class. “There is not much space any longer for old-fashioned, argued criticism,” he [Stothard] said. “I think critics are just being submerged.’

Yes Stothard, times have changed and the criticism and opinions surrounding books and how they are expressed have changed with it. Gone are the days when a way to find out the merit of a book was to read the stuffy article of a literary critic. With the growth of technology and the internet at our fingertips, we should be celebrating the fact that people all around the world can now express their opinions. Book bloggers help to create debate and excitement surrounding a book and even help to promote authors that until recently, had never even been heard of.  For so many people who are passionate about literature, who have their own readings and experience, do their opinions not count? If anything, the opinions of so many people can only make literature thrive even more in creating exciting debates, discussions and furthering the popularity of author and book.

Stothard also claims ‘not everyone’s opinion is the same.’ I agree. As he admits to reading only 20 novels a year, his reading is so little that we don’t have to consider his opinion about books at all. It also renders him unable to ‘be alert to the new’ in modern literature, if a grand total of 20 books is all this literary critic manages to read in one year. The book bloggers he criticises have likely read more books than himself in the past year, and are therefore more than capable of voicing their own opinions. I don’t think Stothard can comdemn us for writing about a subject we are so passionate about, in which we write for free and within our own time.

Writer and blogger Simon Savidge wonderfully sums up,

“there is, and has always been, some snobbery towards bloggers,” he said. “All the blogs I follow are written for free by people who have a passion for books, many of whom are currently reading some of the Man Booker shortlisted novels, and recommending the books that excite them. I think anyone who reads a lot, just by reading, has the ability to critique anything they read … reading and the reaction is a personal experience based on life experience. Interestingly, you don’t find bloggers scathing review pages; you find them reading them between books, along with other blogs, because we are all united on the love of literature in all its forms and genres.”

Simon’s own article on the subject can be found here.