My Six Favourite Literary Insults
It’s not all elegant sentences and good taste in the literary world…sometimes words can wound and sometimes they can bite back…
Mark Twain on Jane Austen
I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.
William Faulkner on Mark Twain
A hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old proven sure fire literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.
William Faulkner on Ernest Hemingway
He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.
Ernest Hemingway on William Faulkner
Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?
And my favourite from more recent times.
Terry Eagleton, Professor of Cultural theory at the National University of Ireland was highly critical of the poet Craig Raine‘s first novel, Heartbreak.
…the publishers have represented it as a novel, rather as Jedward are represented as singers…The description is true but misleading…
Raine is most famous for his 1970s poem A Martian Sends A Postcard Home (which I often use in creative writing classes). His response to the damning review?
I really enjoyed not reading Terry Eagleton’s review almost as much as he enjoyed not reading my novel
Think the Eagleton/Raine match was a score draw…
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