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Literary Insults

On David Copperfield:

'Its texture and style are loose with the looseness of mere panorama painting: and its humanity, though often simple and wholesome, is at innumerable points altogether distorted and unwholesome. And yet we are told that this is Dickens' masterpiece: and we admit the position.' Quarterly Review

On Alexander Pope:

'There are two ways of disliking poetry. One is to dislike it. The other is to read Pope.' Oscar Wilde

On John Masefield:

'Masefield's Sonnets: Ah! yes. Very nice. Pure Shakespeare.

'Masefield's Reynard the Foxl Very nice too. Pure Chaucer.

'Masefield's Everlasting Mercy! Mm. Yes. Pure Masefield.' Robert Bridges

On Jane Austen:

'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 Lord Macaulay:

'It would certainly be unfair to measure the worth of any age by that of its popular objects of literary or artistic admiration. Otherwise one might say the present age will be known and estimated by posterity as the age which thought Macaulay a great writer.' John Stuart Hill

On George Moore:

'George Moore wrote excellent English until he discovered grammar.' Oscar Wilde

On Samuel Richardson:

The works of Richardson ... are pictures of high life as conceived by a bookseller, and romances as they would be spiritualized by a Methodist preacher.' Horace Walpole

On Jean Baptiste Rousseau's ode 'To Posterity':

'This poem will not reach its destination' Voltaire On George Sand:

'In the world there are few sadder, sicklier phenomena for me than George Sand and the response she meets with ... A new phallus worship, with Sue, Balzac, and Co., for prophets, and Madame Sand for a virgin.' Thomas Carlyle

On Marcel Proust:

'Reading Proust is like bathing in someone else's dirty water.' Alexander Woollcott

On A Tale of Two Cities:

'It would perhaps be hard to imagine a clumsier or more disjointed frame-work for the display of the tawdry wares which form Mr. Dickens's stock-in-trade.' The Saturday Review

On an article in Blackwood's Magazine signed A. S.:

Tut, what a pity (Albert) Smith will tell only two-thirds of the truth.' Douglas Jerrold

On a new novel:

'This novel is not to be tossed lightly aside, but to be hurled with great force.' Dorothy Parker


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