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“For an adult reader, the possible verdicts are five” by W. H. Auden

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Growing to learn the difference between taste and judgment extends beyond reading to all of life.

Tolle Lege

“As readers, we remain in the nursery stage so long as we cannot distinguish between Taste and Judgment, so long, that is, as the only possible verdicts we can pass on a book are two: this I like; this I don’t like.

For an adult reader, the possible verdicts are five: I can see this is good and I like it; I can see this is good but I don’t like it; I can see this is good and, though at present I don’t like it, I believe that with perseverance I shall come to like it; I can see that this is trash but I like it; I can see that this is trash and I don’t like it.”

–W. H. Auden, A Certain World: A Commonplace Book, The Complete Works of W. H. Auden, Volume VI: Prose: 1969-1973, Ed. Edward Mendelson (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015), 222.

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