To Be the Critic

We all hate the critics.  Those persons…dare we even say “persons?”  They are more like vultures, who take our favorite book, movie, or TV show and rip it to shreds, leaving it (and us) holding onto the bleeding threads of our dignity as we cry out, “You lie!”

Ok…a bit dramatic, but I don’t think the feeling is too far off.

However, we all like to be critics. (Wait, what?)

Yup.  You and I like to sit around and discuss our favorite books, movies, or TV shows like we actually know what we are taking about. I’ll go ahead and make a mickey out of my superhero loving friends.  Want to see a heated argument about silly and inconsequential things?  Listen to them debate the nuances of the new Avengers movie.  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I am thrilled about the movie.  I see trailers for it and I squeal with glee and do a happy dance.  But the critiquing, the superior knowledge, the banter!  I’ll be honest, I am part of the crowd.  I love it.  I think that is why I love studying English literature.

However, I found a “new” old word that got me thinking…

Criticaster – a petty or inferior critic, used in contempt. (Sir James Murray’s New English Dictionary, 1893)*

How often am I so quick to criticize that I become the criticaster?  It is a frightening thought really.  I want what I have to say, my opinions and thoughts regarding topics I am interested in, to be taken seriously.  What if they aren’t?  What if what I have to say really isn’t that important or novel?  What if I come across as a criticaster? This is where learning to be articulate, doing research and practicing the art of listening will come in handy.

It is not simply a matter of having something to say, it is about having something to say that is worth while.

*Jeffrey Kacirk, Forgotten English, 2011


About LizzyBeth

There is a Story inside of me that I must give a voice. I write so that imagination can take me to Faerie and I can catch a glimpse of the Otherworld and hopefully so will you.

Posted on February 10, 2012, in Editing, Humor, Language, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Literary Criticism, Rachel Burkholder, Superheroes, Words, Writing Hints and Helps and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Yes, it’s such a shame when other people are criticasters. I mean, me – I never do it because I have a much more balanced perspective on things and I only speak what is true and right and good and insightful and worth listening to.

    But those OTHER people….

  2. P. G. Wodehouse began the Preface to his 1929 novel Summer Lightning with this brilliant rejoinder to a critic:

    A CERTAIN critic — for such men, I regret to say, do exist — made the nasty remark about my last novel that it contained ‘all the old Wodehouse characters under different names’. He has probably by now been eaten by bears, like the children who made mock of the prophet Elisha: but if he still survives he will not be able to make a similar charge against Summer Lightning. With my superior intelligence, I have outgeneralled the man this time by putting in all the old Wodehouse characters under the same names. Pretty silly it will make him feel, I rather fancy.

  3. Who are these “Avengers?” Never mind.

  4. I enjoy that word, criticaster, and after reading the definition it reminds me a lot of what I find on the internet. Too often the allowed anonymity of the internet creates a safe environment for criticasters and the seemingly endless barrage of negative words. Also, I love that the the spell check on my computer doesn’t recognize the word, it really is forgotten English!

    • Alex, glad you enjoyed the word for the day! Somehow I feel better knowing that there is a word out there that I can call those annoying anonymous critics who have found a safe haven on the internet. Ah, criticaster how I love the word!

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