Hi everyone! This is Julia of The Broke and the Bookish, formerly blogging on my own at The Competitive Bibliomaniac.
I read mostly historical romance, but can often be found reviewing paranormal romance, young adult books (mostly distopian/fantasy), fantasy/sci-fi, classics, and the occasional non-fiction book about languages.
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I was linked a list of 100 Actual Titles of Real 18th Century Novels and decided to find reviews for the books listed. Hence was born, Book Reviews of Yore.
The Adventures Of A Pin, Supposed To Be Related By Himself, Herself, Or Itself.
"A bundle of ill-connected stories, related without much regard to nature or probability, and little capable of answering the purpose either of entertainment or instruction"
- The British Critic: A New Review, Volume 7, 1796
"We hope the writer of these Adventures is in earnest, in the last paragraph of his Preface. The best fate which we can wish to his performance, and the fate which most probably awaits it, is (in his own language) 'a gentle dip in the waters of oblivion.'"
- The Critical Review: Or Annals of Literature, Volume 18, 1796
Wow. That last one was harsh. Even though this book was apparently not too great, the title is pretty spectacular.
Fashionable Infidelity, or the Triumph of Patience
"Infidelity, in various shapes, has so long infested the land, that every friend to virtue must wish to see it attacked with boldness and with skill. To crush this terrible monster, however, the arm of a giant is necessary; but the present combatant is a pygmy. In brief, we have nothing to commend in a writer who seems unacquainted with almost every rule of grammar -- but his 'good intentions.' The volumes may, however, on account of the morality which generally pervades them, be perused by the younger part of the community with some advantage."
-The Monthly Review, Volume 81, 1789
"The public are informed by the preface of this work, that "the intention of printing it was to exhibit the great misery which is produced in the world by the circulation of scandal; to prove that the well regulated mind will be enabled by calm perseverance to surmount the united efforts of deceit and malevolence; and to shew that Providence has so ordered it, that Art and Injustice will be ultimately ensnared in their own trammels." - The intention to do all this is so highly praiseworthy that we can only lament, with deeper sorrow, it is not carried more successfully into execution. There is a boldness of design in the outlines of this work which marks fertility and strength of mind, but the coloring is so very imperfect that its merit is entirely overpowered. ...
We have pointed out a few of a much larger number, which appear to us to be defects; and if, in our inclination to praise rather than to censure, we have not pointed out the beauties to counterbalance them, the Author must blame himself, for not affording the opportunity of selection."
- The European Magazine and London Review, Volume 17, 1790
That second one has a whole host of examples of the author's poor phrasing. It is hard for me to pick out exactly what they were nitpicking, since the grammar is bound to have changed a bit in 200 some years. I think from what I gathered it was repetitive in it's phrasing, like a lot of blank of blank. At least I think that is what they were saying.
I love that last line of the second one. We would have put praise in, but author, you should have tried harder to give us something to like. The whole review is pretty much saying, "We liked the concept, but the execution is horrid"