We dare to to dream of a world in which writers must support one another, join forces in the common cause of literacy, and be as one sharing writers blogs…but then we wake up and smell the printer’s ink. When dealing with writers who have egos as fragile as eggshells, along with arsenals of words that will most certainly break bones, you’d best watch out. From Mark Twain’s loathing of Jane Austen to the epic vocabulary battle between Hemingway and Faulkner, writers most certainly can be spiteful.
Twain’s Tat with Jane
Sorry Janeites. Well, not really.
“Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone,” said Mark Twain in regards to, you guessed it, Jane Austen. Seems that 19th century Twain got quite irritated by the 18th century writer, stating that “Jane Austin” [sic] was “entirely impossible”; according to an essay titled “Jane Austen,” he “could not read her prose even if paid a salary to do so.” He continues to dig with “She makes me detest all her people, without reserve.”
While Twain’s tit for tat against Austen’s Victorian romances spews forth all manners of disgust, writers of the 21st century should take note. Being politically correct as a writer can equate to a dimming of opinions when our colorful personalities begin to muddle. So, why not take a stab at exploring a work that strikes you as awful? Talk about a great practice in peer review and growing a backbone as a writer!
Hating on Hemingway, Faulkner-style
Hemingway’s writing style is swift, a talent that Faulkner would find flawed given his penchant for flowery language. As someone who enjoys making up words on the regular, ahem, Faulkner’s fecundmellow and other combined words that created chaos for his copy editors are magic to my ears. Hemingway would not agree, stating:
“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.”
These two modern-yet-classic writers took pot shots at each other, generating one of the greatest literary rivalries of the 20th century. Ironically enough, Faulkner’s pot shots included stating that “[Hemingway] has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary,” even though Faulkner himself was known to work without a dictionary, the cause for so many of his Faulknized words. In this case, one could argue quite successfully that the clash of words between Hemingway and Faulkner might have been the catalyst in their careers that lead to their expansive and prolific works.
In other words, speaking your mind against other writers — in a nice way, of course — could give you the push you need and land you at the next level.
Miranda B likes to spew about authors, books and the world of freelancing, and thanks to her research here, she will begin spewing vitriol immediately. You have been warned.