Writers Replying to Reviewers?
Many writers, especially younger ones, regard other people’s books as an opportunity to enhance their own reputations. What better way to show off one’s own wit, erudition, and verbal artistry than to debunk someone else’s? And if you can look good at some poor writer’s expense—well, why not? Edmund Wilson, himself a formidable reviewer, lamented that reading reviews of his own books, "whether favorable or unfavorable, is one of the most disappointing experiences in life," and the novelist Arnold Bennett claimed he never read his reviews, he only measured them. "Reviewing is not really a respectable occupation," W.H. Auden snapped. "A reviewer is responsible for any harm he does, and he can do quite a lot."