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.


"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


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

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