Whilst I am inclined to agree with some of the criticisms made by other reviewers, they are not major problems when set against the real and important achievements of this book. Yes, Jonathan Rose's 'The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes' is much more thoroughly researched and overall is more rewarding, but it's a bigger book and on a different subject. Indeed, both books should be read together as they show different sides of the coin. They compliment each other well.
Carey's book certainly has its virtues. He isn't afraid to be blunt where it is justified and he has a gently cutting sense of humour when he has a mind. He has performed a signal service with this book, shedding light on the less savoury side of some of our much-vaunted intellectual predecessors. He's not the first to notice some of these things, but he puts his argument together well and the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Pretentious worshippers of the likes of Woolf and Eliot now have no excuse for not knowing that their heroes had moral feet of clay. It doesn't lessen their achievement as artists - I appreciate Eliot's work myself - but it should provide food for thought. Thank heavens, one might say, for 'the death of the author'. Personally, I'm rather glad that their dislike of educating the masses was sensibly ignored. If it hadn't been, I probably wouldn't be writing this.