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Poisoned Pens: Literary Invective from Amis to Zola

Gary Dexter, ed.
Publisher Frances Lincoln  
Format paperback
Product Dimensions 7.75 x 5.05 x 0.8 inches
ISBN 9780711231627
Pages/Publication Date 240/2010
Daedalus Item Code 31586
This item is not available.
"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," George Bernard Shaw once opined in a double-edged skewering of sacred cows, while Mark Twain was less gentlemanly about Jane Austen: "Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone." The helmsman of the popular "Writers on Writers" column in London's Guardian, Gary Dexter gives us hundreds of deliciously dishy samples of literary invective, bile, spite, and venom, from what Byron really thought of Keats to Salman Rushdie's savage put-down of John Le Carré, and Virginia Woolf's impression of Katherine Mansfield: "She stinks like a—well, civet cat that had taken to street walking."

"It can be a rather ugly spectacle—literary pugilism from men you suspect wouldn't have been much cop in a real fight—but it is always compelling."—Sunday Tribune (UK)

"Whenever I see that a book has been written by one of my friends has got a really good review—a pang goes through me. I didn't say that, Gore Vidal did. But he speaks for many writers, and for the sin of envy. If you want to see envy and anger and pride (three of the deadliest) getting hilariously into their stride, read Poisoned Pens. I found myself rooting and spluttering as the rant went on. Guess what I did when Harold Bloom told the Wall Street Journal what a rotten writer J.K. Rowling really is?"—Glasgow Herald

"Writers attacking other writers makes for a quite entertaining book.... Many of the attacks are longer than quotation-length and are thoughtful as well as rancorous, but the short quotations are certainly fun. Cyril Connolly on George Orwell: 'He would not blow his nose without moralizing on conditions in the handkerchief industry.' Samuel Butler on Thomas Carlyle: 'Yes it was very good of God to let Carlyle and Mrs. Carlyle marry one another and so make only two people miserable instead of four'."—Shelf-Awareness.com

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