When reading a well-known author, first put them on a pedestal justified by their reputation, by laudatory secondary literature, by personal awe and impersonal envy.
Then study the statue you’ve erected. (Rub your neck occasionally.)
You may take the statue down from the pedestal only when you feel you understand its flaws, and when improving on those flaws haunts your dreams (even if you have little evidence that you are able to do better).
Pedestal a new author.
Repeat until the time that passes between putting up and taking down a statue becomes small enough to be negligible (the duration of reading a magnum opus and sundry). At that point you have become:
- an objective critic,
- a supreme author,
- a blind man (a fool),
- some or all of the above.
This is part of a series of short holiday posts that are mostly excerpts and thoughts from my literary diary. Here is what a “usual” post on Quiver Quotes looks like: The Softness of Pillows: Quirks and Perks.