"When we say that we love a writer's work, we are always stretching the truth: what we really mean is that we love about half of it."Indeed, he adds:
"I stubbornly suspect that only the cultist, or the academic, is capable of swallowing an author whole. Writers are peculiar, readers are particular: it is just the way we are."As both a cultist and an academic, the Alysdragon's response is predictable, and began with a little bit of firebreathing, followed by a small scale character assassination*. She would now like to give this statement:
Mr Amis is clearly suffering from a misapprehension regarding the meaning of the word, 'love'. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines love as "an intense feeling of deep affection", or "a great interest or pleasure in something", definitions which seem to run counter Mr Amis' rather unforgiving attitude. Shakespeare, both a more reliable source and a recipient of Mr Amis' vitriol, declares that, "love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, not bends with the remover to remove." Indeed, he goes so far as to say that it "looks on tempests and is never shaken", a far cry from the idea that we love only half of what we profess. This latter attitude seems as strange to me claiming that, "when I say I love my husband, what I mean is really I can only stand him about half of the time, and for the rest he is both sub-par and uninteresting."
So, to use the word love in it's true sense, let me clarify: to love something - whether that be a place, a writer, a person, or Shakespeare's Comedies, is to feel a sudden and primal urge to mutilate anyone so foolhardy as to criticise that object of affection.
In conclusion, Mr Amis, be a bit more careful what you say about Jane Austen. Especially if it's Northanger Abbey that you're talking about.
*I shan't go into detail, but the words 'that odious little man' were used with a reasonable degree of frequency.