Saturday, June 05, 2004

Constructive Criticism of "Constructive Criticism"

A great exchange about the function of criticism, from the wonderful 1945 play Dream Girl by Elmer Rice (written as a vehicle for his wife, actress Betty Field). Georgina, the daydreaming heroine, asks the straight-talking hero, book critic Clark Redfield, to tell her what he thought of her unpublished novel. He replies "It stinks." Georgina is of course offended:

GEORGINA: I don't call that an opinion. Just a nasty, insulting --

CLARK: I see! You only wanted a favorable opinion.

GEORGINA: Nobody wants criticism that's just destructive. I say if a critic can't be constructive --

CLARK: You mean you want the critic to do the creative job that you failed to do? If that's his function, we might as well dispense with the writer in the first place.

(I will write more about the underrated Dream Girl when I get a chance.)

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