Monday 31 March 2008

Blogging the Classics... the title of the Oxford Literary Festival talk I've just attended, at which friend of SiaB, Lynne Hatwell (aka dovegreyreader) spoke. That wasn't a very good sentence, was it, and doubtless it would be frowned upon by Serious Critics and Professional Academics.

Oops. Mustn't get this off on the wrong foot - these terms are still whirling around my mind - as the talk was about literary critics vs. bloggers. I've already trotted out my thoughts on this topic here, and they are nice, gentle thoughts. I'd just like to get rid of the 'vs.' and recognise that the two things are very different kettles of fish.

Luckily Lynne, alongside fellow blogger Mark Thwaite and critics John Carey and John Mullan, had wiser and more profound words to say. The discussion was fun, didn't descend into fisticuffs, and left me feeling very proud of 'our' Lynne (and also feeling rather lowbrow, as both Mullan's criticism and Thwaite's blog sounded like they'd go rather over my head - but a blog for everything and everything in its blog, as they may or may not say). Lynne definitely stole the show - as my friend Mary (also the kind person who drove me home) said, until Lynne said her bit, the word 'reader' had been mentioned once. And, whatever the arguments are in theory, it is the reader for whom Lynne writes - and she also makes a witty, friendly and generally brilliant Event Speaker. I look forward to our lunch tomorrow. And maybe, if I heap all this praise on her, she'll consider me for the list of blogs she links to!... nothing without a price, me ;-)

But she was wonderful. And I wanted to share a little anecdote about the nice lady who sat next to me, and whom I hope has found her way here. We got chatting before the event started, and she (foolishly I didn't either ask her name or forward mine...) hadn't come across many blogs, though was eager for pointers. At the end we turned to each other, to say how good it was - and she was so excited about blogging, it was lovely. "I can't wait to get to my computer - it feels like there's a whole new world out there!" Well, I hope you've made it here, so I can introduce myself properly. I'm Simon, very nice to meet you! That, to sum things up in a hazy but happy manner, is what blogging is all about.


  1. Found you through a comment you left at Torque Control. I believe we met, briefly, last night - so, hi! :-)

  2. Good guess! Hope you enjoyed it...

  3. Well Hello.

    How wonderfully you write...even as you criticize your own sentences! I've only been blogging for a bit, so I'm new to this blog review vs. lit crit argument. It certainly doesn't surprise me (I am a former prof who taught some literary criticism).

    I think you detail the differences in the two sorts of book reviews very well. And you are spot on in your point that bloggers have an audience in mind (I never was sure who literary critics were writing for---except each other and the empty vessels allegedly waiting to be filled).

    Great site. Thanks!

  4. Lovely to see you, Deborah, thanks so much for stopping by - will make my way across to the Exuberant Reader very soon...

  5. Just found you from dovegreyreader. I like your list of books to read -- we share several enthusiasms (Tove Jansson's Summmer Book; Diary of a Provincial Lady, and more). I'm doing an event at Christ Church tomorrow at 8pm. Come along and say hello, if you can.


I've now moved to, and all my old posts are over there too - do come and say hello :)

I probably won't see your comment here, I'm afraid, but all my archive posts can also be found at