I said it on Twitter but I’ll say it here. The relief for a stupid book review in which someone says something that is not only evaluatively stupid but actually empirically wrong is to say so. It’s not a 65,000 pound libel judgment. I’m sorry, but Sarah Thorton has committed an act of violence against the academy which granted her degrees and against the literate world of her practice. Lynn Barber committed exaggeration, misstatement and a nasty seasoning of prevarication on top of it in her negative review of Thorton’s book. Barber’s reward should be humiliation, intense disagreement, and having to admit the truth. If we had a court that compelled that, rather than expected it of anyone purporting to be an intellectual, I might be down for that.
Barring that, the real upshot of this should be than any writer who publishes in the UK should think again. And anyone reviewing or commenting or footnoting or otherwise using writers who publish in the UK should think once more beyond that.