The Samuel Johnson ones are legit ...
a torrent of trash, dialogical diarrhea, the more or less automatic produce of a prolix typewriter.
A good third [of readers] do not know the difference between real literature and pseudo-literature, and to such readers Dostoevsky may seem more important and more artistic than such trash as our American historical novels or things called From Here to Eternity and such like balderdash.
Tolstoy is the greatest Russian writer of prose fiction. Leaving aside his precursors Pushkin and Lermontov, we might list the greatest artists in Russian prose thus: first, Tolstoy; second, Gogol; third, Chekhov; fourth, Turgenev.... This is rather like grading students' papers and no doubt Dostoevsky and Saltykov are waiting at the door of my office to discuss their low marks. (More like that here.)
My knowledge of Mr. Forster's works is limited to one novel, which I dislike ...
Blok's ... long pieces are weak, and the famous The Twelve is dreadful, self-consciously couched in a phony "primitive" tone, with a pink cardboard Jesus glued on at the end ...
Indeed, one can argue that what Stoianovich has isolated and summarized are not the strengths of the Annales school- which lie in the substance of their often brillant writing, their flair for bringing together otherwise isolated data, and above all their gift for assembling and using imaginatively new bodies of documentation- but their weaknesses: their penchant for high-flown theories, their infatuation with polysyllabic language, their sheer verbal intoxication. Stoianovich takes all their vaporizing seriously, though it is often prefatory or sealed off in the articles on meta-history, meta-social science, meta-everything that crowd the pages of the Annales and other French scholarly journals. Like Braudel, endlessly refining the theoretical structure of his famous Méditerranée as if it were some heavenly disposition, whereas in fact it is the weakest part of that extraordinary work (extraordinary because Braudel is a brilliantly imaginative and remarkably learned historian in a very traditional sense), Stoianovich mistakes what these scholars say about what they do, and what they think about what they do, for what it is they in fact do. And what they say and think about what they do is often couched either in that awful jargon that seems to be attractive to French social historians or in the gasping declarations apparently made fashionable by Lucien Febvre.
The vast landscapes and range of themes and character in his most recent novel The Book of Kings have frequently been compared to works of the definitive Russian and German writers. However, the fusion of narrative styles, storytelling across social classes, and a transcontinental canvas are New World and contemporary. Thackara’s concerns, unusual in his time, are aesthetic and moral. He uses literature’s incantatory powers to make his subjects’ often tragic dilemmas the reader’s felt experience. Reading Thackara can equally be an escape into realms of sublime beauty or a harrowing confrontation with possible personal damnation or universal extinction.
His extended time in Rome from 1956 until 1971 occurred during Italy's film’s golden age, which was to have important implications.
In London from 1967 to 1971, Thackara wrote two novels, a book of philosophy and a study of a no-growth economy, nature preservation, and wars between the sexes over reproductive laboratories; but he did not submit them for publication.
The basis of some disapproval of Thackara is that his language can become inhumanly exalted; his characters’ metaphysical conjectures weigh down the text; and the sprinkling of different languages requires a skill not found in most readers.
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