Leon Wieseltier responds to his good friend, the publisher of Franzen's Freedom, on the art of negative criticism, and why TNR relishes its negative reviews:

Literature is a felicity, but it is not a festival...

So yes, dear Jeff, business as usual: contention without end; an excess of ambition and pride in the making and taking of books; exhilaration in the quarrelsomeness about things that matter; the disturbance of the peace. Rather like your business, in fact: the seriousness trade. In the age of one hundred and forty characters, we sink or swim together.

I'm totally with Leon on this, except when his commissioned negative reviews are not motivated by genuine criticism, but by personal vendettas, or envy of those more intelligent or better writers than he.

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