Foreign News: Critical English

Book reviewers, says Book Reviewer John Betjeman (rhymes with ketchman), write in a code—or doubletalk—of their own. In the London Daily Herald, he let the readers in on his idea of what the critics' literary lingo really means:

"Everyone should read this book"—about economics.

"An important contribution"—if I knew more about this subject I would attack the book.

"Sensitively written"—written by a woman and boring.

"Full"—too long.

"Informative"—unreadable.

"Unhealthy"—not the kind of sex I like.

"Wholly satisfying"—the kind of sex I like.

"Significant"—I don't understand this book.

...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!