I hate it when people call books or authors pretentious. I'm just going to come out and say it. I hate it.
I completely respect it if people find certain books or authors unnecessarily convoluted or even condescending. I may not agree with them, but that's just fine. Some books do seem unnecessarily convoluted. Sometimes authors can come off as condescending. However, that doesn't mean that these books or authors ARE overly convoluted or condescending. As a reader, I think our opinions are incredibly valid and that we can feel or react to novels and authors in any way that we find fit as long as we recognize that our perception of anything is not necessarily the reality of that thing (and, of course, as long as we aren't careless and disrespectful with our views).
But back to my problem with calling a book (and anything or anyone, really) pretentious. When someone calls something pretentious, they are expressing the opinion that that thing is pretending to be smarter than it actually is, that it is pretending to be more impressive than it actually is. And how the heck does that person know (not just feel, but actually know) that that book/author/thing ISN'T as smart or impressive as it endeavours to be? Just because an individual isn't impressed with a particular book/author does not mean that book is any less intelligent and just because that book/author's form of intelligence doesn't mesh with that reader does not mean that the book/author must be pretending.
I really don't think that we can ever accurately judge how smart anyone, particularly someone as distant as an author, is and saying that someone or something is pretentious is really the most pretentious thing anyone can do. (Inception: I have entered the horrible cycle of pretentiousness! Ahh!)
I also think it is incredibly disrespectful to say that an author is PRETENDING to be smart. There are thousands upon thousands of variations of intelligence and just because some types of intelligence don't ring true for certain readers doesn't mean that they are invalidated and thus pretentious. And I personally don't think that someone can convincingly pretend to be smarter than they actually are--if someone says something is pretending to be smart, they must on some level recognize that some form of intelligence exists in whatever they are criticizing and, in that case, the thing is just smart. No pretending involved.
What do you think? Does this piss you off too?