One man's Shakespeare is another man's trash fiction.
Consider this pithy commentary on the Great Bard's work:
With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent
writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare....
But, of course, there must be SOME writers we can all agree on as truly great, right? Like Jane Austen. Or not:
Every time I read 'Pride and Prejudice,' I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.
If it were thought that anything I wrote was influenced by Robert Frost, I would take that particular work of mine, shred it, and flush it down the toilet, hoping not to clog the pipes.
John Steinbeck, surely?
I can't read ten pages of Steinbeck without throwing up.
But don't think these pleasantries were penned in a frolicsome hour by dilettante book critics with an unslaked thirst for a bit of author-bashing.
The Shakespearean take-down was George Bernard Shaw, the Austen shin-bonebasher was Mark Twain, the anti-Frost poet was James Dickey, and the quick!-bring-me-the-bucket-it's-Steinbeck was James Gould Cozzens.
Yes, hell hath no fury like one author gleefully savaging another author's work.
And, lucky for us, there's plenty to be had where that came from.
Cast your eye on these, the 50 most memorable author vs. author put-downs (in no particular order; though if you've got a favorite, by all means, comment on it, below).
1. Ernest Hemingway, according to Vladimir Nabokov (1972)
As to Hemingway, I read him for the first time in the early 'forties, something about bells, balls and bulls, and loathed it.
2. Miguel Cervantes' Don Quixote, according to Martin Amis (1986)
Reading Don Quixote can be compared to an indefinite visit from your most impossible senior relative, with all his pranks, dirty habits, unstoppable reminiscences, and terrible cronies. When the experience is over, and the old boy checks out at last (on page 846 -- the prose wedged tight, with no breaks for dialogue), you will shed tears all right; not tears of relief or regret but tears of pride. You made it, despite all that 'Don Quixote' could do.
3. John Keats, according to Lord Byron (1820)
Here are Johnny Keats's p@# a-bed poetry...There is such a trash of Keats and the like upon my tables, that I am ashamed to look at them.
4. Edgar Allan Poe, according to Henry James (1876)
An enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection.
Check out the rest of the list HERE
I think my favorite is #27: William Faulkner, according to Ernest Hemingway
Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You're thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes -- and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he's had his first one..
What's YOUR fave author put-down?