50 Works of English (and American) Literature We Could Do Without

March 26th, 2010 § 0 comments

by Brigid Brophy, Michael Levy, and Charles Osborne (1967)

“Praises of the unworthy are felt by ardent minds as robberies of the deserving.” ~ Coleridge

On Hamlet: “There is a fatality in public taste which, faced with an author so ineffably great that he cannot be ignored, often contrives to pick on and treat as ‘central’ his weakest or nearly weakest work.”

On “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”: “The reason Wordsworth writes of daffodils and clouds as though he had never really set eyes on either of them is that he is an essentially baroque artist, to whom flowers are invisible unless transmuted into precious metal and to whom clouds are merely what sweep apparitions down on the astounded beholder.”

On Pickwick Papers: “Pickwick Papers appears to have been written in a series of jerkily spasmodic bouts of inane euphoria.”

On Walt Whitman: “Footnote: Was it not Walt who posed for a photograph of himself with a butterfly lovingly fluttering on his index finger? The butterfly was discovered to be a dead one, mounted on a ring the poet was wearing.”

On Mark Twain: “It is a vision which can be achieved only by that ruthless dishonesty which is the birthright of every sentimentalist… With these literary standards there really is no hope for sivilization.”

On Peter Pan: “Barrie’s observation, one-sided though they may be, coincided with many of Freud’s… Peter Pan is by way of being Barrie’s Interpretation of Dreams.”

On Somerset Maugham: “He has a window dresser’s idea of elegance, and a shop assistant’s concept of romance. When he writes of Tahiti his language is that of a travel agent.”

On Aldous Huxley: “He writes in the half clinical, half with-genteel-attention-averted manner of someone obliged to clean the lavatory… On the title page of his copy of Point Counter Point Scott Fitzgerald wisely wrote ‘A very poor novel, what I’ve read of it.'”

On A Farewell to Arms: “It is so flattering,” said Gertrude Stein of Hemingway, “to have a pupil who does it without understanding it.”

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