Five Possible Verdicts

“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.

  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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