[Milton-L] soliciting of reviews

Hannibal Hamlin hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com
Sat Dec 13 15:58:04 EST 2008


Sure, and of course it's not "blind" trust, but still.  I often find it
annoying if a review is too much about the reviewer.  No doubt you've read,
as I have, the kind of review, often by very senior scholars, that says
little about the book in question, but rambles on self-indulgently about how
important their own work has been or what they like or don't or anything
that pops into their head.  I also think this applies to the kind of
negative review we all enjoy, but which is often totally uninformative.  The
best example here, safely away from Milton studies, is the restaurant
reviewing of A. A. Gill.  It's brilliant in its savage put-downs, and
delightful to read, but hardly a guide to good cooking.


On 12/12/08, James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hannibal:
> When you're reading a review of a book in your field, don't you feel you
> learn as much about the reviewer as you do the book being reviewed?  I agree
> with you that there's no substitute for time spent reading in a field, but
> our reading of reviews is usually not a matter of blind trust in the
> reviewer.
> Jim R
> On Fri, Dec 12, 2008 at 11:14 AM, Hannibal Hamlin <
> hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com> wrote:
>> This raises, alas, yet another question -- who should be doing the
>> reviewing.  Many young scholars, even graduate students, are eager to
>> review, since this is a relatively easy way of getting publications.  But
>> this can easily make enemies and damage career prospects.  There is also a
>> problem of authority.  I confess I get irritated when I read reviews in TLS
>> or other major journals that are written by graduate students, even when the
>> arguments seem sound.  Since a review is partly a guide to books that one
>> hasn't read, one wants to be able to trust the reviewer.  This is not to
>> deny the argument that we all have ideological bias -- not a very
>> interesting one, I think -- but rather to assert the need for credentials
>> and the desire of the reader for a reviewer that can be trusted.
>> Hannibal
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Hannibal Hamlin
Associate Professor of English
The Ohio State University
Burkhardt Fellow,
The Folger Shakespeare Library
201 East Capitol Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
hamlin.22 at osu.edu/
hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com
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