Our classics editor, Mary Beard, made the shortlist for the first Omniture Hatchet Job of the Year, a prize for the "angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review published in a newspaper or magazine in 2011"; and in the TLS this week, in the following extract from the diary column, NB, J. C. acknowledges that this kind of prize is "good fun", unless you happen to be one of the hatcheted victims.
But is it necessarily a good thing to encourage reviewers in the direction of critical savagery? As suggested below, there may be a more difficult task for a responsible critic than simply wielding the axe (for a few recent instances of the more balanced review, see Gerald Mangan's piece on Alasdair Gray, Jonathan Bate weighing up several Keats-related books, or Niki Segnit on Nigel Slater et al). . . .