Saturday, 12 October 2013

A Right Literary "Phrenzy" - the Most Horrible Insults Ever

Orpheus, the greatest poet of classical antiquity.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot 
(1796–1875)  Wikimedia Commons

Would you like to know what Tolstoy said about Shakespeare? It was this: 

"The undisputed fame enjoyed by Shakespeare as a writer. .. is, like every other lie, a great evil. " 

A bit strong don't you think? 

And how about this tirade by George Bernard Shaw about Shakespeare: 

"With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise entirely as I despise Shakespeare when I measure my mind against his. The intensity of my impatience with him occasionally reaches such a pitch that it would positively be a relief to me to dig him up and throw stones at him, knowing as I do how incapable he and his worshippers are of understanding any less obvious form of dignity."

And the sublime Keats really got it in the neck. Unbelievable!

Lord Byron said (and I hate him for it, the pompous, puffed up wordball):

"Here are Jonny Keats' piss-a-bed poetry, and three novels by God knows whom... No more Keats, I entreat; flay him alive if some of you don't I must skin him myself; there is no bearing the drivelling idiotism of the Mankin."

This is what the Quarterly Review and Blackwood's literary mag had to say about John Keats, who died shortly after, probably of a broken heart.

"The Phrenzy of the "Poems" was bad enough in its way; but it did not alarm us half so seriously as the calm, settled, imperturbable drivelling idiocy of "Endymion".  Mr. Hunt is a small poet, but he is a clever man. Mr. Keats is a still smaller poet, and he is only a boy of pretty abilities, which he has done everything in his power to spoil... We venture to make one small prophecy, that his bookseller will not a second time venture £50 upon anything he can write. It is a better and wiser thing to be a starved apothecary than a starved poet; so back to the shop, Mr. John, back to "plaster pill and ointment boxes," etc.

Quotes from: The Complete Book of Insults, 1982, Ed. Nancy McPhee, Andre Deutsch.

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