Written between 1400 AD and 1900, the long prose essay--a translation into English from Latin or French--has a terse title, something like "On Criticism" or "On the Art of Criticism" or "Criticism," if I recall correctly. Perhaps it's by Disraeli or Erasmus or Diderot (my bet is Erasmus). The essay begins with a very long paragraph describing how famous writer X thought the work of famous writer D terrible, F thought the style of X preposterous, and so on and so on, showing that criticism is inescapable, no matter how brilliant or valuable or good you are.

  • Hi and welcome to Literature Stack Exchange. Is there anything else you remember about this essay? For example, in what language you read it and what type of publication?
    – Tsundoku
    Jun 7, 2021 at 16:46
  • First guess is Alexander Pope's "An Essay on Criticism" (1711).
    – user10067
    Jun 8, 2021 at 0:11
  • Thanks for the suggestion, but that's not it; it is, without a doubt, a prose essay. I'm almost certain it is by Erasmus but alas I can't find it anywhere in his voluminous works. To reiterate the point, the first paragraph (of about 500 or 700 words) is a kind of mechanical, tedious back-and-forth listing of great writers hating on one another. I'm pretty sure Horace and Cicero and Seneca, along with much later writers, are invoked.
    – Alice
    Jun 8, 2021 at 1:50
  • @DavidAnson if you have a guess, it would be better in an answer with a full explanation of why it fits, not in comments. Comments are for suggesting improvements/clarifications, answers are for answers.
    – bobble
    Jun 8, 2021 at 1:59


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.