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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Speaking Ill of the Dead

Quote from Stephen Sondheim's book "Finishing the Hat" --

How can you comment critically on someone's work without hurting the writer whose work you're dissecting? My answer is cowardly but simple: criticize only the dead. I have never believed in "de mortuis nil nisi bonum"; speaking ill exclusively of the dead seems to me the gentlemanly thing to do. The subject cannot be personally hurt, and his reputation is unlikely to be affected by anything you say, whereas publicly passing judgment on living writers is both hurtful and stifling — I speak from experience, as someone who has been disdained both by journalists and by many of my songwriting elders and contemporaries as well.

Mwahahahaha. He certainly doesn't mince words. And obviously he doesn't believe in the afterlife or "looking down from heaven." :D

I have always felt the same way but thought it was wrong of me. Now I feel validated! Thank you, Mr. Sondheim.

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