Tag Archives: literary oddities

Rotten Reviews: A Doll’s House

“It [Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House] was as though someone dramatized the cooking of a Sunday dinner.”

Clement Scott, Sporting and Dramatic News, 1889

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

Rotten Reviews: Max Eastman on Ernest Hemingway

“It is of course a commonplace that Hemingway lacks the serene confidence that he is a full-sized man.”

Max Eastman

New Republic, 1933

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

Brave New World

“A dystopian novel (1932) by Aldous Huxley (1894-1963). Its portrayal of an imagined future state in which men and women are processed into standardized batches by genetic engineering and lifelong conditioning was originally conceived as a challenge to the claims of H.G. Wells (1866-1946) for the desirability of eugenics. The title derives from Miranda’s exclamation in Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1611):

‘O brave new world,

That has such people in’t!’

V.i”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

Rotten Reviews: Brave New World

“A lugubrious and heavy-handed piece of propaganda.”

New York Herald Tribune

“… a somewhat amusing book; a bright man can do a good deal with two or three simple ideas.”

Granville HicksNew Republic

“There are no surprises in it; and if he had no surprises to give us why would Mr. Huxley have bothered to turn this essay in indignation into a novel?”

New Statesman and Nation

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

The Bridge

“A long poem (1930) by the US poet Hart Crane (1899-1932). The work is a Whitmanesque celebration of America, its culture and history, and the image of Brooklyn Bridge acts as a link between past and present, a symbol of imagination and striving:

‘O Sleepless as the river under thee,
Vaulting the sea, the prairies dreaming sod,
Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
And of the curveship lend a myth to God.’
Hart Crane, The Bridge, proem ‘To Brooklyn Bridge’

Brooklyn Bridge is a suspension bridge in New York City, spanning the East River and so linking Brooklyn and Manhattan Island. It was built in 1869-83, and incorporates a number of impressive technical innovations. With its tough, angular, futuristic structure, it became something of an icon for American modernists, being the subject of semi-abstract paintings by, for example, John Marin (1910-1932) and Joseph Stella (1917-1918). More recently, David and Victoria (‘Posh Spice’) Beckham chose to call their son Brooklyn because he was conceived while they crossed the bridge.”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

The Devil’s Dictionary: Pantheism (n)

The doctrine that everything is God, in contradistinction to the doctrine that God is everything.”

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 Rejections: In My Father’s Court

[This refers to the 1966 novel by Isaac Bashevis Singer.]

“Too pedestrian.”

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