Return Of The Art Of The Insult

The Art Of The Insult
Archival pigment ink. 8"x11" on 11"x14" Bristol Board

We are obsessed with the quest for "self". We want self satisfaction, self-esteem, self-actualization, without regard for standards. These days people try their damnedest best to be polite,  therefore, modern writers and poets only have sycophantic friends and coaches who praise their work. It is even funnier when a serious critic attempts an honest critique. The sycophants will attack him. If not for self-publishing, those self proclaimed writers' novels and book of poetic rubbish will never see the light of day. Go ahead, the earth is full of trash anyway. What did Oscar Wilde say? "There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are either well written or badly written. That is all." Listen to a critic or find an honest friend with taste. Now look at "art". Everybody is an artist.

A little background on this post. One day, a fellow analyst at work told me about a novel she was reading. She thought it was a good novel. The book had been passed around the office and I was one of the few who had not read it. I asked what it was about and she proceeded to tell me about an ordinary story. Then she said "You may not like it. It is not your type." I was curious what she thought my type was, so I obliged. It was not a novel at all. It was a 300 page-newsprint, paper bound book, published by some obscure publishing house. I call them disposable books. After reading five pages, I gave it back to her and said. "You are right. I can't read this crap. I'd rather poke my eyeballs with toothpicks." We laughed. Seriously, the dearth of literary talent. My friend liked it because the protagonist swore a lot. In fact every sentence she uttered had the word "fuck" in it. "I said, no one I know speaks like that." She replied "I do." So there you go.

Best Writer on Writer Insults
from Flavorwire

30. Gustave Flaubert on George Sand
“A great cow full of ink.”

29. Robert Louis Stevenson on Walt Whitman
“…like a large shaggy dog just unchained scouring the beaches of the world and baying at the moon.”

28. Friedrich Nietzsche on Dante Alighieri
“A hyena that wrote poetry on tombs.”

27. Harold Bloom on J.K. Rowling (2000)
“How to read ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’? Why, very quickly, to begin with, and perhaps also to make an end. Why read it? Presumably, if you cannot be persuaded to read anything better, Rowling will have to do.”

26. Vladimir Nabokov on Fyodor Dostoevsky
“Dostoevky’s lack of taste, his monotonous dealings with persons suffering with pre-Freudian complexes, the way he has of wallowing in the tragic misadventures of human dignity — all this is difficult to admire.”

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

24. Virginia Woolf on Aldous Huxley
“All raw, uncooked, protesting.”

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

22. Joseph Conrad on D.H. Lawrence
“Filth. Nothing but obscenities.”

21. Lord Byron on John Keats (1820)
“Here are Johnny 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.”

20. Vladimir Nabokov on Joseph Conrad
“I cannot abide Conrad’s souvenir shop style and bottled ships and shell necklaces of romanticist cliches.”

19. Dylan Thomas on Rudyard Kipling
“Mr Kipling … stands for everything in this cankered world which I would wish were otherwise.”

18. Ralph Waldo Emerson on Jane Austen
“Miss Austen’s novels . . . seem to me vulgar in tone, sterile in artistic invention, imprisoned in the wretched conventions of English society, without genius, wit, or knowledge of the world. Never was life so pinched and narrow. The one problem in the mind of the writer . . . is marriageableness.”

17. Martin Amis on Miguel Cervantes
“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.”

16. Charles Baudelaire on Voltaire (1864)
“I grow bored in France — and the main reason is that everybody here resembles Voltaire…the king of nincompoops, the prince of the superficial, the anti-artist, the spokesman of janitresses, the Father Gigone of the editors of Siecle.”

15. William Faulkner on Ernest Hemingway
“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”

14. Ernest Hemingway on William Faulkner
“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”

13. Gore Vidal on Truman Capote
“He’s a full-fledged housewife from Kansas with all the prejudices.”

12. Oscar Wilde on Alexander Pope
“There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.”

11. Vladimir Nabokov on Ernest Hemingway (1972)
“As to Hemingway, I read him for the first time in the early ‘forties, something about bells, balls and bulls, and loathed it.”

10. Henry James on Edgar Allan Poe (1876)
“An enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection.”

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

8. Elizabeth Bishop on J.D. Salinger
“I HATED [Catcher in the Rye]. It took me days to go through it, gingerly, a page at a time, and blushing with embarrassment for him every ridiculous sentence of the way. How can they let him do it?”

7. D.H. Lawrence on Herman Melville (1923)
“Nobody can be more clownish, more clumsy and sententiously in bad taste, than Herman Melville, even in a great book like ‘Moby Dick’….One wearies of the grand serieux. There’s something false about it. And that’s Melville. Oh dear, when the solemn ass brays! brays! brays!”

6. W. H. Auden on Robert Browning
“I don’t think Robert Browning was very good in bed. His wife probably didn’t care for him very much. He snored and had fantasies about twelve-year-old girls.”

5. Evelyn Waugh on Marcel Proust (1948)
“I am reading Proust for the first time. Very poor stuff. I think he was mentally defective.”

4. Mark Twain on Jane Austen (1898)
“I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

3. Virginia Woolf on James Joyce
“[Ulysses is] the work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples.”

2. William Faulkner on Mark Twain (1922)
“A hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old proven sure fire literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.”

1. D.H. Lawrence on James Joyce (1928)
“My God, what a clumsy olla putrida James Joyce is! Nothing but old fags and cabbage stumps of quotations from the Bible and the rest stewed in the juice of deliberate, journalistic dirty-mindedness.”


Ces Adorio said...

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh my gosh, they are funny.

Rick Forrestal said...

OMG, I love these insults . . . great collection.
These writers are so brutal on their fellow writers.
I'm still laughing . . .

Thank you, Ces, I needed that.

Ces Adorio said...

The funny thing is they can afford to insult each other!

Indigene said...

Ces, my mouth dropped open!! Lol! They had some really tough skin! Once again your illustration is superb, I can't think of one insult for it.

Steve E said...

Started to read "insults" and could not stop. SO funny.

Ces, your art...(sigh!) Ahhhhhhhhh! I'm out of praise-words. We are painting rooms, and dictionary is hidden near bottom of one of the piles of 'stuff'. (Steve, get rid of dictionary--Google is here.)

My Dog Has No Nose said...


I like "that's a lovely dress..... in fact I've always liked it."
Thanks for the giggle = I'' come back and study them in depth
- anyththing by Shaw on Wilde, or Wilde on Shaw is worth a revisit

happy sunday :)

Ces Adorio said...

Oh Indegene, I like that you were thinking of how to insult my drawing because I have been and quite seriously, I cannot share some of it. Hehehehe. Thanks. Now and then I ask my children and husband to critique my drawing or painting and believe me, I just don't have tough skin, I think it has become full tanned leather. Glad to see you again. Thank you.

Ces Adorio said...

Heheheheh! I still open an actual dictionary with printed words and read it with my lunch. I rather like it.

Ces Adorio said...

Hehehe. Helloooooooo!!! I love it when you come here wearing a dress. I think it is so kinky. Heheheh!

Bella Sinclair said...

This is blatant product placement!

OMG! OMG! HAHAHAHA! Oy! These make me blush and cackle at the same time! Good thing I'm not drinking a Diet Coke or I'd be doing a spit take. Speaking of Diet Coke, she should be drinking regular Coke. She could use the calories. But still, she's beautiful, dahlink.

Someone I loved used to swear like a sailor.

Bella Sinclair said...

Yeesh, writers can be such a catty bunch.

Ces Adorio said...

Refreshingly honest!

Ces Adorio said...

No sycophantic drivel at least.

mady said...

Your illustration is very good and the insults made me laugh..

martinealison said...

Je viens de passer un excellent moment!!... Je te fais de gros bisous et te souhaite une bonne fin de week-end.

k.h.whitaker said...

Hahaha, everyone's post is making me laugh this morning. Thank you Ces! Great list of insults. I have missed your visits Ces, I hope you are doing well and are not too swamped with work. (((Hugs)))

Ces Adorio said...

Thank you Mady.

Ces Adorio said...

Yes, we can laugh about them because they are successful writers.

audrey said...

What a great post on this Sunday morning. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your list of "insults". My goodness, such cruel and humorous words ~ sad, but funny. Thank you for beginning my morning with laughter.
♥ audrey

Sarah Melling said...

Fascinating illustration and an equally fascinating post! Boy, there's nothing like a strong opinion, is there? Very entertaining to read!