Judging Books: The Golden Rule of Criticism
If I had an aversion to alcohol, he said, I would be in no position to tell anyone that a certain kind of wine was of poor quality. Any wine would be poor to my taste, even if it happened to be the finest vintage in the history of the world. A deaf man cannot criticize music nor a blind one examine paintings. Only someone who loves good music will recognize bad music and only someone who has seen many great paintings will detect a meager one.
So with literature: People who do not have a taste for a certain genre had better hold their tongue about any particular book of that genre, because they might not be criticizing it at all but the genre in general. Of course they might have good reasons for disliking the genre, but then they should criticize the whole genre instead of a certain book. Someone might have good reasons for disliking alcohol, and it is understandable if he advocates the benefits of teetotalism, but if he criticizes a certain vintage, he will only betray his ignorance on the subject. Such a person will look quite ridiculous.
Since I am not eager to make a fool of myself, I have to turn to my palate before I turn to my subject. Do I have a taste for the genre that my object of examination is a part of? Or am I a blind man criticizing art?
This post was an excerpt from the book Seven Years at Hogwarts: A Christian’s Conversion to Harry Potter.