Classic Authors Throwing The Greatest Shade At Each Other

Everyone loves these classic authors—except these other classic authors. 

If you're a bibliophile, you've probably developed some strong opinions about books. If you've ever hated an author everyone else seemed to–inexplicably–think is the greatest thing since the invention of whiskey, maybe you can sympathize with these authors who also hated other popular writers.

Jane Austen

Austen is one of the most beloved classic writers of our time. But that doesn't mean everyone's a fan.

“She makes me detest all her people, without reserve. Is that her intention? It is not believable. Then is it her purpose to make the reader detest her people up to the middle of the book and like them in the rest of the chapters? That could be. That would be high art. It would be worth while, too. Some day I will examine the other end of her books and see." — Mark Twain

He's still not done, though…

“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."

Question: if Twain hated Austen so much, why did he keep reading her books? You're not hurting anyone but yourself, buddy.

Twain wasn't the only author to take issue with the gentility and manners of Austen's novels:

“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.”  Charlotte Bronte

“I am at a loss to understand why people hold Miss Austen’s novels at so high a rate, which seem to me vulgar in tone, sterile in artistic invention, imprisoned in their 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.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson


The Bard. The greatest and most well-known writer of the English language. Surely no one can dislike Shakespeare, right? Welllll…

“With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare. The intensity of my impatience with him occasionally reaches such a pitch, that it would positively be a relief to me to dig him up and throw stones at him, knowing as I do how incapable he and his worshippers are of understanding any less obvious form of indignity.” — George Bernard Shaw

"[Shakespeare's work is a] vast dunghill. Hamlet is a vulgar and barbarous drama which would not be tolerated by the vilest populace of France, or Italy… One would imagine this piece to be the work of a drunken savage." — Voltaire

"…we saw 'Midsummer Night's Dream,' which I had never seen before, nor shall ever again, for it is the most insipid ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life." — Samuel Pepys

Edgar Allan Poe

One of America's most famous authors, Poe is also one of its most influential. His work inspired an entire generation of writers, received wide acclaim, and he started a whole new genre (detective fiction). His character, C. Auguste Dupin, was the basis for the greatest detective of all time, Sherlock Holmes. Who on earth would dislike Edgar Allan Poe? WHO ON EARTH?!

"An enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection.” — Henry James

“An unmanly sort of man whose love-life seems to have been largely confined to crying in laps and playing mouse.” — WH Auden

"[He possesses] the intellect of a highly gifted person before puberty.” — TS Eliot

Ernest Hemingway

Not a fan of Hemingway? You're not alone.

“I read him for the first time in the early Forties, something about bells, balls and bulls, and loathed it.” — Vladimir Nabokov

“People always think that the reason he’s easy to read is that he is concise. He isn’t. I hate conciseness — it’s too difficult. The reason Hemingway is easy to read is that he repeats himself all the time, using ‘and’ for padding.” — Tom Wolfe

The William Faulkner/Ernest Hemingway insult wheel bonus round!

“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” -Faulkner

“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?” -Hemingway

“Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You’re thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes – and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he’s had his first one.” -Hemingway

Wait, wasn't it your philosophy to write drunk and edit sober, Hemingway? Physician heal thyself.

Ayn Rand

Everyone loves Ayn Rand. Ha! I'm kidding. A controversial and polarizing figure, people tend to either love her books and philosophy or hate them. Let's take a look at the haters, shall we?

"The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get… I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail. She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky." — Flannery O'Connor

Perhaps coincidentally, Rand was a fan of Spillane's pulpy crime novels.

"[Atlas Shrugged] is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force." — Dorothy Parker

And we can't forget this classic call out by America's sweetheart, Stephen Colbert:


Natasha Brandstatter

Natasha Brandstatter

You can often find Natasha Brandstatter at home in Colorado with her three scotties, sipping on a cocktail and reading a book. When not writing for Book Riot, Bookspan, the Pueblo Pulp, History Colorado, or sundry other publications, she focuses on writing cozy mysteries, cooking, and designing websites. She will work for champagne.