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Perfectly worded snark

When it comes to the perfectly worded, well-thought out and perfectly, bitingly delivered insult, there’s no one who can do it like a writer. That’s pretty much their schtick, saying things well, in a way that will provide the most impact—whether it’s quiet and unassuming or straight talk in your face.

Of course, we should all learn to play nice, but whether or not we should doesn’t always matter. And it’s hard to deny the entertainment value in a good sparring with words—especially when the insults fall on those far away from ourselves. When the L Magazine posted this slideshow of some of the most delightful author-on-author barbs, I couldn’t help but giggle.

Who’d have thought Charlotte Bronte had thoughts as snarky and as vicious as:

“Why do you like Miss Austen so very much? I am puzzled on that point. What induced you to say that you would rather have written ‘Pride and Prejudice’…than any of the Waverly novels? I should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen, in their elegant but confined houses.”

I’ll admit, this one is my favorite, just because it seems so unexpected.

Pro tip: it’s best not to think about how the authors on the receiving end might have felt after reading these comments. As tough as Hemingway made himself out to be, I can’t help but think he’s also a bit of a softie (I read The Paris Wife, okay? I know these things) and feel a little sorry for poor Papa getting all this flack for his writing.

So, while I’m not condoning flinging insults at our peers, per se, perhaps once in a while, it’s okay to appreciate the occasional carefully worded (and sometimes accurate) put-down. Especially when they’re just so colorful!

2 Responses to Perfectly worded snark

  1. D. C. DaCosta says:

    I found the referenced article disappointing. First, about half the authors mentioned are writers of little or no consequence. It would have been much more interesting and entertaining had those being criticized included untouchables such as Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, Cervantes, Margaret Mitchell…. Second, and more important, most of the quoted “criticism” lacks pointedness or wit, and perhaps even truth.

    Real “snark” involves on-target, double-edged, irrefutable truth. Not feeble mudslinging, as in most of the examples cited.

    Nothing from Mark Twain? (His criticism of Fennimore Cooper is delicious.) Nothing from Bennett Cerf regarding Gertrude Stein? How about “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force” (and whoever it was who wrote it about whoever deserved to be on the receiving end)?

    • Kevin A. Lewis says:

      Real snark also involves skilling letting the air out of somebody’s balloon in such manner as to leave them standing there with a limp bit of rubber in their hand, as your post quite skillfully proves… Nonetheless, even if the article wasn’t that deep, it does show how much wit is in short supply these days.

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