Literary Insults

Elizabeth Bishop on J. D. Salinger:
“I HATED the Salinger story (The Catcher in the Rye). It took me days to go through it, gingerly, a page at a time, and blushing with embarrassment for him every ridiculous sentence of the way. How can they let him do it?”

Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac:
“That’s not writing, that’s typing.”

James Gould Cozzens on John Steinbeck:
“I can’t read ten pages of Steinbeck without throwing up.”

Charles Dickens on William Shakespeare:
“I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me.”

T. S. Eliot on Aldous Huxley:
“Mr. Huxley is perhaps one of those people who have to perpetuate thirty bad novels before producing a good one.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson on Jane Austen:
“Miss Austen’s novels … seem to me vulgar in tone, sterile in artistic invention, imprisoned in the wretched conventions of English society, without genius, wit, or knowledge of the world. Never was life so pinched and narrow. The one problem in the mind of the writer … is marriageableness.”

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?”

Gore Vidal on Truman Capote:
“He’s a full-fledged housewife from Kansas with all the prejudices.”

Edmund Wilson on Carl Sandburg:
“The cruelest thing that has happened to Lincoln since he was shot by Booth was to fall into the hands of Carl Sandburg.”

Virginia Woolf on Charlotte Bronte:
“Trivial Personalities decomposing in the eternity of print (referring to Jane Eyre).”

Virginia Woolf on James Joyce:
“[Ulysses is] the work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples.”

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