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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.

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  • 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

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