Thursday, 23 August 2007

Reviewing and Criticism

Leo Benedictus, writing on today's Guardian blog, makes a distinction between "reviewing" and "criticism". I've a terrible cold and a billion things to do for next week's London transfer, so I'm going to do little more than applaud the distinction: "A review is a practical tool designed to help people choose a show. Criticism is an attempt to describe the way a show works and analyse why it works well." Yes. But a review without criticism is like a frame without a painting.

1 comment:

Ian Shuttleworth said...

I agree that there is a distinction, but I don't think that's it. After all, as I keep saying, a trivial fraction of those reachable by any review are going even to be in a position to see the show in question - a fact that the Edinburgh-in-August anomaly may obscure for us.

That said, I'm not sure I can put my finger on what the distinction is. Perhaps just broadening the focus a little will do it: reviewing is, whilst not necessarily advice-centred, part of a current-affairs kind of discourse, where criticism places its subject in a broader and deeper cultural context.

In evaluating my own writing, I tend just to think that that small part of my output qualifies as "criticism" which is just better than my usual, although I don't know what the criteria of betterness might be - I suspect, probably circular.