Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves.
— Brendan Behan
They builded a tower to shiver the sky and wrench the stars apart
, Till the Devil grunted behind the bricks: "It's striking, but is it Art?" The stone was dropped at the quarry-side and the idle derrick swung
, While each man talked of the aims of Art, and each in an alien tongue
: "If you can't say something nice, don't say something at all." Jasper Rolls: "The young boy's protests, though heartfelt, quickly lapsed into simplistic and tedious platitudes. One and a half stars!"
The slime rose up to criticize the work of art. "There you sit," it said, "serene and content in your ebony gloss—yet utterly useless. You think you are beautiful, but you are only a molded husk. You are glazed, but you are brittle and shallow. Where is there any softness in you? Where is that fine slippery resiliency that is the heritage of the commonest blob of grease? Where the rippling undulations of fluid motion, the flexibility and warmth of dishwater? You lack the variety of size and shape and color that glorifies the contents of every garbage can. You cannot take flight in the soft air in the free manner known to every particle of dust swept from the floor. You cannot appreciate the refractive art of the dirty window-pane in the sunlight. You can never immortalize your substance by leaving a stain on the wall. And never, never will you bring that worthy satisfaction of a job well done that every human being feels from cleaning up rubbish like me. You are not beautiful—you are a monstrosity." The work of art listened and was ashamed. It fell off the antique table and shattered on the floor. The slime looked on as the housewife swept up the myriad fragments, all shapes and colors and sizes, and dumped them sadly into the waste-basket. "Now you are beautiful," said the slime, and vanished down the drain.
A critic is a legless man who teaches running to the fleet of foot.
You can tell a lot about a writer by how they choose to portray critics in their work.