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It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
I first saw this back in the 1980s, posted above the desk of a much older (and wiser) engineer. It struck me as a worthwhile philosophy, and guided me to attempt things I might not have otherwise tried.
On the other side of the coin, it has informed my approach as a book reviewer. A reviewer, by nature is a critic. When I write a book review I try not to focus on where the strong man stumbled, or the doer of deeds could have done them better. It is easy to write a negative review, showing how clever the reviewer is, but much harder to write one focused on a book’s strengths and merits.