“As readers, we remain in the nursery stage so long as we cannot distinguish between taste and judgment, so long, that is, as the only possible verdicts we can pass on a book are two: this I like; this I don’t like. For an adult reader, the possible verdicts are five: I can see this is good and I like it; I can see this is good but I don’t like it; I can see this is good and, though at present I don’t like it, I believe that with perseverance I shall come to like it; I can see that this is trash but I like it; I can see that this is trash and I don’t like it.”

W.H. Auden, A Certain World: A Commonplace Book

8 thoughts on “Five Possible Verdicts

  1. I totally agree with this and blogging helps reaching that stage. At least for me it does. This is why I also write billets about the books I didn’t like.

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  2. Dostoevsky was the first author that seemed to demand such categories. I remember when I thought, “The Brothers Karamazov is better than Crime and Punishment, though I prefer the latter.” I have since come to prefer The Brothers Karamazov, but it took time and rereading.

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