“The Art of Teaching the Book Review,” a master class with NBCC member James Shapiro [left], book critic and Shakespeare scholar who teaches a class in book reviewing at Columbia University, drew lots of comments after the fact from NBCC members who were in the audience at the March 6 membership meeting and requests for reports from those who couldn’t attend.
Shapiro adheres strictly to a free-form discussion, so had no speech to post here. But it’s worth noting that his handouts included classic essays on reviewing by Virginia Woolf, who reviewed anonymously for the Times Literary Supplement, and T.S. Eliot’s essay on TLS editor Bruce Lyttelton Richmond: “One lesson I learnt from writing …under Richmond was that of the discipline of anonymity,” Eliot wrote. “I learnt to moderate my dislikes and crotchets, to write in a temperate and impartial way; I learnt that some things are permissible, when they appear over one’s name, which become tasteless eccentricitiy or unseemly violence when unsigned.”
And Shapiro later passed along this list for further reading:
Margaret Coster, et al., “Reviewing the Reviews: A Woman’s Place on the Book Page”(1987).
Antony Curtis, “Lit Ed: On Reviewing and Reviewers”(1998).
“Dictionary of Literary Biography,” vol 110 (on early reviews).
Frank Donoghue, “The Fame Machine: Book Reviewing and Eighteenth-Century Literary Careers” (1996).
Walter Graham, “English Literary Periodicals” (1930).
John Gross, “The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters” (1969).
Bill Henderson, ed, “Rotten Reviews: A Literary Companion” (1986).
John O. Hayden, ed., “Romantic Bards and British Reviewers” (1971).
John O. Hayden, “The Romantic Reviews, 1802-1824” (1968).
Derwent May, “Critical Times: The History of the Times Literary Supplement” (2001).
Peter Morgan, “Literary Critics and Reviewers in Early Nineteenth-Century Britain” (1983).
Gail Pool, “Faint Praise: The Plight of Book Reviewing in America”(2007).
Donald H. Reiman, “The Romantics Reviewed” (1972).
William Hudson Rogers, “The Book Review in English Literature” (1928).
Derek Roper, “Reviewing Before the Edinburgh: 1788-1802” (1978).
Beth Carole Rosenberg and Jeanne Dubino, eds., “Virginia Woolf and the Essay” (1997).
Alvin Sullivan, ed., “British Literary Magazines, 4 vols.”(1983).
Jeremy Treglown and Bridget Bennet, eds., “Grub Street and the Ivory Tower: Literary Journalism and Literary Scolarship from Fielding to the Internet” (1998).
Yearbook of English Studies 16 (1986), “Literary Periodicals.”