I have a lot of time for
critics, good ones anyway, but I did laugh to read this passage from the
memoir of nineteenth-century playwright Henry Becque:
When my friends and I were young, passionate starstruck artists, naturally we had dreams of doing something. Poetry, I should say, was our first temptation and, no doubt, the most practical. After poetry came the novel, the analysis of that poor human heart that we barely knew. We also used to think about the theatre, although the theatre, with all its barriers and restrictions, put us off somewhat. Amongst all these areas which attracted us equally, criticism never came up; we just didn’t consider it. Passing judgement on other people’s work and never showing your own seemed to us the height of impudence. If one of us, in a moment of mad enthusiasm, had clapped his hand to his head and said, ‘I want to be a great critic’, how we would have laughed.
Henry Becque Souvenirs d’un Auteur Dramatique in: Oeuvres Complètes Vol, 6. Paris: Crès, 1926, p. 70. My translation.