Friday, November 6, 2009

Hurling Insults: Just Another Form of Literary Flattery

— Stephanie Polukis

Not everyone can enjoy the subtle wit and social criticism of Jane Austen. Few more can appreciate the convoluted stream-of-consciousness in the writing of James Joyce. Some dislike Poe; others hate Dickens. Many think Chaucer is antiquated and dull. However, no one finds certain authors’ styles more intolerable, more deplorable and repulsive, than other writers.

The following are some of the most scandalous insults one famous writer has made about another:

“Mr Eliot is at times an excellent poet and has arrived at the supreme Eminence among English critics largely through disguising himself as a corpse.”
– Ezra Pound on T. S. Eliot

“This is not a book that should be tossed lightly aside. It should be hurled with great force.”

– Dorothy Parker on a book by Benito Mussolini

“[A book by Henry James] is like a church lit but without a congregation to distract you, with every light and line focused on the high altar. And on the altar, very reverently placed, intensely there, is a dead kitten, an eggshell, a bit of string.”

– H. G. Wells on Henry James

“One could always baffle Conrad by saying ‘humour.’”

– H.G. Wells on Joseph Conrad

“Jane Austen's books, too are absent from this library. Just that one omission alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn't a book in it.”

– Mark Twain on Jane Austen

“There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.”

– Oscar Wilde on Alexander Pope

“Never did I see such apparatus got ready for thinking, and never so little thought. He mounts scaffolding, pulleys, and tackles, gathers all the tools in the neighbourhood with labour, with noise, demonstration, precept, and sets— three bricks.”

– Thomas Carlyle on Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“He was one of the nicest old ladies I ever met.”

–Mark Twain on Henry James

“the most obnoxious squeak I ever was tormented with.”

–Charles Lamb on Percy Bysshe Shelley

“That's not writing, that's typing.”

–Truman Capote, on Jack Kerouac

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