By TOBY LICHTIG
In early 1977, to celebrate its seventy-fifth birthday, the TLS ran a special issue in which a score of literary luminaries was asked about the authors who, in their opinion, were most underrated – and overrated. The exercise was partly brilliant because of the people polled: Anthony Powell, Roland Barthes, Christopher Isherwood, Philip Larkin, Vladimir Nabokov, William Empson, and many others.
The responses were suitably forthright, provocative, amusing. Hugh Trevor-Roper considered “the whole Bloomsbury group – excepting only J. M. Keynes – to be the most overrated literary phenomenon of our times” – and Lytton Strachey to be its charlatan-in-chief.