Whenever I wrote a text for a book that I considered important or it had deeply moved me, I hesitated to say the word “criticism” when I gave it to a newspaper or literary magazine. I always believed that I had no right to “judge” someone else’s creation, that what I was writing was just a personal opinion, meaning, it was coming out of my own education or perception. Anyway, I feel grateful for what I wrote, because you always come out winning from diving in a major work, searching for the anxiety that was not yours but perhaps parallel to yours. Or, still, seeking the knowledge that takes you beyond. I also feel grateful for what they wrote about me, as they wrote it.
Because I feel the same for those who wrote about my books. They are testaments of their own perception, their own insight or their ability to penetrate. And I say this not out of lack of respect or thanks, but out of a full sense that it may be so. That it is a personal approach by them beyond the meaning of the word ‘criticism’. Besides this is also confirmed by the world history of literature. We saw books that were not praised or even ignored by critics triumph one day. And we saw others that were glorified, lost and forgotten. Without arguing that, an enlightened and insightful “critic” can reveal things that even the author had not pointed out. Or, even to help the author with his astute observations. I just think the word “criticism” is not exactly accurate.
Personally, I know why I wrote so many texts about books whose authors I never knew, nor expected anything in return. I remember, for twenty days, and maybe more, I was working on Jaqueline De Romilly’s book “Thucydides and Athenian Imperialism”. And as many about Hermann Diels and Walther Kranz’s book “The Presocratic writings”. Or, even, for the wonderful books “The Ritual Lament” by Margaret Alexiou and George Steiner’s “Antigones”. To this day, I know that these texts, and many like them, I wrote for me. To help my thinking, my own perception. Or, even, my soul. Today I am grateful for the texts I wrote. Some of them had overwhelmed me.
I also feel grateful to those who wrote about my books. Most of these texts are illuminated, written with love and deep insight, analytical thought, and helped me as a writer and as a human being. But no criticism can make a book better, or the opposite, than it is. Because it is always a subjective testament, in terms of the intellectual capacity of the one who writes it.
Thoughts from my Diaries “The paths of my Angel”