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July 13, 2012


10 Scathing Literary Insults

by gfsnell3

A zinger is so much more satisfying when it’s not only scathing, but clever.

Take Dorothy Parker as she nearly collided with Clare Boothe Luce as they both tried to get through a doorway.  Luce smiled and said, “Age before beauty.”

Not missing a beat, Parker slipped through the door, and said, “Pearls before swine.”


Here are some of my other favorite literary insults that have that certain zip.


Mark Twain on composer Richard Wagner: “Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.”


William Makepeace Thackeray on Jonathan Swift: “A monster gibbering shrieks, and gnashing imprecations against mankind — tearing down all shreds of modesty, past all sense of manliness and shame; filthy in word, filthy in thought, furious, raging, obscene.”


H.G. Wells on Bernard Shaw: “An idiot child screaming in a hospital.”


Virginia Woolf on James Joyce: “The work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples.”


Oscar Wilde on Charles Dickens’s “Old Curiosity Shop”: “One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing.”


Gertrude Stein on Ezra Pound: ““A village explainer. Excellent if you were a village, but if you were not, not.”


Vladimir Nabokov on Ernest Hemingway: “As to Hemingway, I read him for the first time in the early ‘forties, something about bells, balls and bulls, and loathed it.”


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


Mark Twain on Jane Austen: “Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig up Jane Austen and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”


Any of your favorites to add?

2 Comments Post a comment
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