Friday, September 16, 2011

Literary Judgement

Opinions on literary merit tend to be blunt and cruel. Early on, Earnest Hemingway was told by a publisher that publishing his first novel “would be in extremely rotten taste.” Writers themselves can be catty towards other scribblers. “Shakespeare’s name, you may depend on it, will go down,” said the impeccably-discerning Lord Byron, the father of his own niece. “He has no invention as to stories, none whatever.” Even the established Hemingway, survivor of scathing putdowns himself, scathingly put down the young Norman Mailer. “The whole book’s just diarrhea of the typewriter,” Papa said of The Naked and the Dead.

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