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Inside the Critics' CircleBook Reviewing in Uncertain Times$
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Phillipa K. Chong

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691167466

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691167466.001.0001

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Accounting for Taste

Accounting for Taste

(p.36) Chapter 3 Accounting for Taste
Inside the Critics' Circle

Phillipa K. Chong

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers the challenges of evaluating books given the conventional understanding that “there is no accounting for taste.” To some degree, critics agree that reviewing is utterly subjective, however, this is not to say that reviewing is utterly unreasoned or idiosyncratic. The chapter explores the procedures critics employ to determine the quality of books, including consideration of the different criteria used when they evaluate books. Individually, there is radical quality uncertainty inherent in reviewing books, and critics' specific readings will appear to have a limited value on their own. However, the chapter argues that the reviews have value as highly contextualized judgments whose contribution is required for the formation of the more generalized wisdom of the critical consensus.

Keywords:   book evaluation, critical procedures, book evaluation criteria, quality uncertainty, contextualized value judgments, critical consensus

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