Authors Putting Down Authors

I read this post about author put-downs, and it goes on all the time… one of the solutions, and it is not easy to sustain, is to read, review and say positive remarks about authors with whom you disagree. But not all care to be peacemakers. I see some who can’t agree with a thing others say, but if their favorite author said the very same thing they’d stand up and applause.

Go to the link to see quite the list of put-downs.

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.

Robert Frost?

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.

Oh, dear.

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-bone basher was Mark Twain, the anti-Frost poet was James Dickey, and the quick!-bring-me-the-bucket-it’s-Steinbeck was James Gould Cozzens.


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  • Alan K

    A good friend of mine was chair of the English Department at an extremely elite eastern university. When I asked him how he liked his job, he shook his head and replied: “I spend all my time listening to world-class scholars complain about how their feelings are hurt by what a colleague down the hall said about them.”

  • I used to laugh at snarky lines like this, but they’ve lost their humor for me now that I’m a writer myself. When I’m brooding over an original idea, knowing that it will challenge the way people have thought, every imaginable ugly criticism runs through my head as I try to write it down. It’s paralyzing and crushing. I know some outstanding thinkers who simply will not write because they are so aware of the cruelty of our culture.

    It’s not that I don’t have a sense of humor, its that I just can’t stand to be on the other side of this.

  • At least to date I’ve been blessed with good reviews (part of the grace of being a small fish?), but like Lois says, I find it hard to write without asking if I’m exposing myself to this or that group of critics. I’m trying to learn the discipline of prayerfully writing/speaking with courage and grace, and letting the chips fall where they may.

  • CGC

    Hi Louis,
    Keep writing . . . Keep sharing the gift. Faith and love always risk.

    Thanks for risking!

  • CGC

    PS, Lois (sorry about my typos). Some of us can’t write 🙂

  • steve

    I think CS Lewis would call it a form of Bulverism (God in the Dock).

  • I’m slowly gaining a tougher skin. But I’m very sensitive to not trashing other authors. Christians seem to take special delight in it, thinking that they are slaying Satan himself when they shred someone who dares challenge their thinking.

    I write about Jesus’ Jewish context, and I wish more Christians could learn from Judaism about how not to use our tongues. A chapter in my latest book is called “How to Have a Kosher Mouth.”

  • Amos Paul

    I don’t like Shakespeare o_O. Like, at all.

    Though, like Tolkien, I cordially dislike the man’s contributions and his work!