We at Jot 101 are always looking for new examples of bilious, scornful or downright libellous remarks. A number of collections have been scoured and selections made, but in Matthew Parris’s Scorn with extra bile ( 1998) we seem to have found a truly impressive collection of insults, including a very well known one from my own uncle, the first Baron Riddlesden ( aka Denis Healey ).
Some of the better insults are, alas, too long for inclusion, but here are some by writers that are equally entertaining, but pithier. There is also a hilarious semi-parody of the somewhat overrated children’s writer A.A. Milne by Dorothy Parker (photo above).
…an umbrella left behind at a picnic.
George Moore on W. B. Yeats.
A church lit but without a congregation to distract you, with every light and line focused on the high altar. And on the altar, very reverently placed, intensely there, is a dead kitten, an eggshell, a bit of string.
H.G. Wells on a book by Henry James.
A hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tried out a few of the old proven ‘ sure-fire’ literary skeletons with sufficient local colour to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.
William Faulkner on Mark Twain
I wish her characters would talk a little less like the heroes and heroines of police reports
George Eliot on Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I cannot abide Conrad’s souvenir shop style and bottled ships and necklaces of romanticist clichés.
Vladimir Nabokov on Joseph Conrad
Tell me, when you are alone with Max, does he take off his face and reveal his mask ?
Oscar Wilde on Max Beerbohm.Continue reading