Tag Archives: literary oddities

Rotten Reviews: Charles Lamb

Charles Lamb I sincerely believe to be in some considerable degree insane. A more pitiful, rickety, gasping, staggering, Tomfool I do not know.”

Thomas Carlyle, 1831, in The Book of Insults 1978

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

Rotten Reviews: Rudyard Kipling

“I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.”

San Francisco Examiner, rejection letter to Kipling, 1889″

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

The Devil’s Dictionary: President (n)

The leading figure in a small group of men of whom—and of whom only—it is positively known that immense numbers of their countrymen did not want any of them for President.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000. 

Rotten Reviews: Arthur Koestler

[This review refers to Darkness at Noon.]

“The book is long, drawn out, full of repetitions, and marred throughout by its obscenity and irreligion.”

Catholic World

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

The Devil’s Dictionary: Conservative (n)

A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.” 

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000. 

The Devil’s Dictionary: Opiate

An unlocked door in the prison of Identity. It leads to the jail yard.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000. 

Book of Answers: Robinson Crusoe

Was there a real Robinson Crusoe? Daniel Defoe based The Life and Strange Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1719-20) on the real-life story of Alexander Selkirk (1676-1721), a Scottish sailor who survived for more than four years on the desert island of Juan Fernandez off the Chilean coast. He became a celebrity after his rescue and homecoming in 1709.”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.