The world of literature is full of different kinds of literary geniuses. Often the best and the most celebrated authors are the biggest critics of literature. Here are a few notorious sentences said by famous authors expressing dislike of other famous authors‘ work.
Mark Twain on Jane Austen
Mark Twain expressed his passionate dislike of Jane Austen frequently through letters and books. One of his most insulting words said on the subject of Jane Austen’s work are : “Jane Austen? Why I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book. 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.” He even went so far as to say: “Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”
Mark Twain thought that Jane Austen’s characters were detestable and weak. Someone who has read both authors can probably see that both authors were very different, wrote in different periods, created different characters that battled different things. While Twain’s characters struggled with poverty, social injustice, racism, Austen’s characters were primarily concerned with romance, marriage, emotions and societal status. That could be a reason why Twain thought Austen’s characters were weak and dislikeable.
Leo Tolstoy on Shakespeare and Anton Pavlovich Chekhov
Leo Tolstoy once told Anton: “Anton Pavlovich, I admire your stories. But your plays, really, your plays are worse even than Shakespeare.”
Tolstoy thought that Shakespeare was overrated. He expressed in his autobiography that he was disappointed with Shakespeare plays and thought they were tedious and that he couldn’t find any art in them.
Charlotte Bronte on Jane Austen
“Why do you like Miss Austen so very much? I should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen, in their elegant but confined houses.”
Charlotte and Jane share many fans today, and even in the past people tried to put them in the same category. Probably because they were both female writers. However their books don’t have much in common apart from the same historical period. Charlotte’s books were more dramatic and had a Gothic tone which is not present is Austen’s work. Charlotte was often compared to Jane and that made her angry. She thought that her books were nothing like Jane’s, and regarded Austen’s books as emotionally cold.
Another famous Bronte quote on Austen: “She ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs him with nothing profound. The passions are perfectly unknown to her. What sees keenly, speaks aptly, moves flexibly, it suits her to study: but what throbs fast and full, though hidden, what the blood rushes through, what is the unseen seat of life and the sentient target of death—this Miss Austen ignores.”
See also: 7 Authors Who Disliked Their Own Books
Stephen King on Stephanie Mayer
Stephen King openly stated a few times that he disliked Stephanie’s Meyer bestseller books, The Twilight Sage. He compared her to J.K. Rowling as both authors who write to young people. His words were:
“Both Rowling and Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people… The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephanie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”
He also thought that Twilight was a form of “teenager porn” as he called it. On that subject he stated:
“People are attracted by the stories, by the pace, and in the case of Stephanie Meyer, it’s very clear that she’s writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe joining of love and sex in those books. It’s exciting and it’s thrilling and it’s not particularly threatening because it’s not overtly sexual.”
Vladimir Nabokov on Dostoevsky
“Dostoyevsky’s lack of taste, his monotonous dealings with people suffering from pre-Freudian neuroses, his way of wallowing in the tragic misadventures of human dignity – all this is difficult to admire. I do not like this trick his characters have of ‘sinning their way to Jesus’ or, as Bunin put it more bluntly, ‘spilling Jesus all over the place.”
Nabokov had a kind of biased view about Dostoevsky. He regarded his work to be “well written as always” but also criticized him pretty intensely. He thought his exaggeration of emotion was meant to provoke “automatically traditional compassion”, and he thought that his characters didn’t have natural background and that his novels were overly focused on a “moral landscape”.
William Faulkner on Mark Twain
It seems like Twain gave but also received harsh criticism. This is what William Faulkner said about him in his young days:
“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.”
But later in his life, he seemed that he grew fond of him and praised him calling him “the father of American literature.”
Elizabeth Bishop on J.D. Salinger
“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?”
With these words the famous poet expressed her dislike for Salinger’s classic Cather in the Rye. As she was a poet, it is thought that she maybe disliked the fact that the main character in the book wrote poetry.