I was fascinated by the disconnect between Daniel Melia's essay on "bad books" (by which he means claptrap masquerading as serious scholarship) and the comments that THE solicited in response to it. Because Melia is talking, quite reasonably, about the tricks of the pseudointellectual trade: the bibliography with all the wrong items on it, the pretense of Discoveries Never Before Seen By Humankind, and so forth. But the comments are all about a different kind of badness, and several of them are bad in their own way. (At least in part, this seems to be the fault of THE's question.) For example, one respondent doesn't like Wolf Hall. This is hardly grounds for summary execution, but nothing Melia says has to do with aesthetics--or, indeed, literature, unless it's the kind of polemical literature that promises Discoveries Etc., but nicely sugared with a healthy dose of inept narrative (or the like). Melia is quite expressly interested only in books that strike an academic pose in order to authorize nonsensical conclusions; presumably, one might object to Wolf Hall's representation of Thomas Cromwell, in much the same way that one might object to A Man for All Seasons' representation of Thomas More, but we would not be doing so on any of the grounds that Melia introduces. Similarly, poststructuralist jargon, the target of some ire amongst more than one respondent, may well clog up the literary-critical works, but it isn't bad in Melia's sense unless it's being used to conceal the presence of an intellectual absence. And "I don't agree with these people" is equally irrelevant to the topic at hand. There are certainly books that qualify as bad in what you might call a functional sense--e.g., argument doesn't pan out or has missteps--that aren't bad in Melia's.