“The sense of effort lies heavy over the whole work. That the book has greatness and passages of beauty redeeming its ugliness none will deny. But the mind demands of literature something that it can approve as well as something that it can enjoy; and in ‘Cities of the Plain,’ so full of dignitaries, so devoid of dignity, this instinct finds little to satisfy its craving.”
Saturday Review of Literature reviewing volume five of Remembrance of Things Past
“My dear fellow, I may perhaps be dead from the neck up, but rack my brains as I may I can’t see why a chap should need thirty pages to describe how he turns over in bed before going to sleep.”
Marc Humblot, French editor, rejection letter to Proust, 1912
Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.