Leave a comment

Dec 8, 2007 | When Insults Had Class (with context)

These are quotes taken from the recent “When Insults Had Class” page that has been circulating the web, with a bit more context.

[“…he has no courage, has never climbed out on a limb]… He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”
William Faulkner, said in a Q&A with students at the UMass Dartmouth about Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway was obviously not pleased (having also been a war correspondant, making the ‘courage’ part grossly mistaken). Faulkner later apologized.

“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”
Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner)

They were similar in many respects: both were winners of the Pulitzer Prize, the highest national honor recognizing outstanding print journalism, literary achievements, and musical composition. Hemingway won it in 1953 for “The Old Man and the Sea”, and Faulkner twice for “A Fable” (1955) and “The Reivers” (1963). Both won the Nobel Prize in Literature, Faulkner in 1949, Hemingway in 1954.

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”
Winston Churchill, of Stafford Cripps, British Labor politician, a socialist, known for his severe manner and harsh policies.

Winston Churchill also didn’t have much respect for his political opponent Clement Atlee. Interestingly, while Churchill was Prime Minister during the Second World War, he lost his position to Atlee immediately after in a landslide victory for the Labor party. Churchill eventually regained his position in 1951, but not before having been quoted as saying, of Atlee:

“A sheep in sheep’s clothing.”
“A modest little person, with much to be modest about.”

“You, Mr. Wilkes, will die either of the pox or on the gallows.”
The Earl of Sandwich

“That depends, my lord, whether I embrace your mistress or your principles.”
John Wilkes’s response to The Earl of Sandwich. John Wilkes was an English radical and he published a weekly publication by the name of the “North Briton” in order to attack the then Prime Minister (1762-63) John Stuart, who was also a Scotsman. He was arrested in April of 1763 after being charged of seditious libel (incitement of discontent) after attacking King George III’s support of the Paris Peace Treaty of 1763 (which ended the Seven Year War). He was later released. Wilkes was notoriously ugly.

The man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln was John Wilkes Booth. He didn’t die on the gallows, however- he was shot to death by Union soldiers approximately two weeks after the shooting.

“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.”

Billy Wilder, screenwriter, film director, producer (Some Like It Hot) said this of Cliff Osmond, an actor who appeared in a number of Wilder’s films and had then been asked to sing for the first time. This is not attributed to Donny Osmond, (singer, I’m Leaving It All Up To You), though there has been considerable confusion. Cliff appeared in the 1967 Best Original Screenplay winner “The Fortune Cookie”, which was about a crooked lawyer who asks his brother-in-law to feign a serious injury, and also featured Jack Lemmon.

Henry James (upper right), American author (The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl) and literary critic, clearly had critics of his own. Playwright and poet T.S. Eliot’s (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock) words sum it up:

“Henry James has a mind so fine no idea could violate it.”

H.G. Wells (author of “The War of the Worlds“, lower right) wrote, similarly, of James:

“He spares no resource in telling of his dead inventions. . . . His vast paragraphs sweat and struggle; they could not sweat and elbow and struggle more if God himself was the processional meaning to which they sought to come.”

Interestingly, both Henry James and T.S. Eliot (upper left), born American, became British subjects later in their lives. Henry James, perhaps, made the most horrible of remarks when he wrote to his father about George Eliot (lower left):

“To begin with she is magnificently ugly… Yes. Behold me in love with this great horse-faced blue-stocking… Altogether she has a larger circumference than any woman I have ever seen.”

To think that he was truly infatuated! (A blue-stocking is an antiquated, derogatory term for a woman who participated in literary circles and ‘conversations’ to which they invited men of letters and aristocracy.)

More will be added soon.

Also written on this day..

This entry was posted on Saturday, December 8th, 2007 at 12:41 am, EST under the category of Articles. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.