Half-Assed Reviewers and Pearl-Plucking Authors: Chrysippus’ Euripides, Virgil’s Ennius and Gaddis’ Green

 – I mean I just saw an advance review of your art book, some half-ass critic takes it apart.
Valentine paused, lighting a cigarette. He held the match before him, looking at the flame. then he blew it out. – How do you mean, takes it apart?
 – He takes your own words out of it, and quotes them to…
 – Yes, to condemn me, I see what you mean, Valentine said coldly. – He does sound rather…half-assed, as you so graphically describe him.

 – Not only that…
 – My dear Brown, nothing amuses me more than that, exactly that, Valentine interrupted. – Why do you suppose I put them there? To give your…half-assed reviewer opportunity to expose his own total lack of resources, in what he considers an exemplary demonstration of his own cleverness. Can you imagine the satisfaction that gives someone who has never done anything himself? Our great half-assed priesthood, so to speak, he finished with asperity, turning to Brown, or rather to the cloud of cigar smoke that rose between them.

 – Not only that, Brown went on with belligerent satisfaction as Valentine paced the floor away from his desk. – He says you plagiarized just about the whole thing, that you lifted…
 – Plaigarized! Valentine turned, and controlled his voice with a thin smile. – You make me feel like Vergil, when someone saw him carrying a copy of Ennius, and implied…
 – He says you lifted…
 – I’m simply plucking the pearls from Ennius’ dunghill, was Vergil’s answer.
 – If you think you can lift whole parts of somebody else’s…

  – And now what? Valentine brought out quickly. – Making me out another…Chrysippus? Seven hundred and five volumes, he went on, recovering the forced dilatory calm of his voice as he spoke. – But the work of others pleased him so, that one of his books contained a play of Euripides almost entire.

 – William Gaddis The Recognitions (1955) 351-2. 

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