“Criticism will always have the force of the child in the story about the emperor’s new clothes, because there will always be naked emperors who everybody says are wearing today’s Crown Jewels.” — Eric Bentley
The essential task of the critic is not to like or dislike the arts or to push bromides, such as to celebrate the “power of reading.” Despite some troublesome modifications, Lionel Trilling carries on the mission of E.A. Poe and Henry James: he articulates the value of the serious act of judgment in a culture hostile to it.
What makes one opinion better than another? (Some opinions have been challenged more than others. Tested opinions are worth more than untested ones.) Can’t one enjoy an aesthetic experience without having to put it into words? (Absolutely, but those of us who write art criticism don’t have the luxury.)