1. How to read ‘Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone’? Why, very quickly, to begin with, and perhaps also to make an end. Why read it? Presumably, if you cannot be persuaded to read anything better, Rowling will have to do.
2. Am reading more of Oscar Wilde. What a tiresome, affected sod.
3. I have been reading a translation of Goethe’s ‘Wilhelm Meister.’ Is it good? To me it seems perhaps the very worst book I ever read. No Englishman could have written such a book. I cannot remember a single good page or idea….Is it all a practical joke? If it really is Goethe’s ‘Wilhelm Meister’ that I have been reading, I am glad I have never taken the trouble to learn German.
4. His work is evil, and he is one of those unhappy beings of whom one can say that it would be better had he never been born.
Anatole France about Emile Zola
5. A hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old proven sure fire literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.
William Faulkner about Mark Twain
6. I am reading Proust for the first time. Very poor stuff. I think he was mentally defective.
7. Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You’re thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes — and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he’s had his first one.
8. I grow bored in France — and the main reason is that everybody here resembles Voltaire…the king of nincompoops, the prince of the superficial, the anti-artist, the spokesman of janitresses, the Father Gigone of the editors of Siecle.
9. He is a bad novelist and a fool. The combination usually makes for great popularity in the US.
Gore Vidal about Alexander Solzhenitsyn
10. If it were thought that anything I wrote was influenced by Robert Frost, I would take that particular work of mine, shred it, and flush it down the toilet, hoping not to clog the pipes….a more sententious, holding-forth old bore, who expected every hero-worshipping adenoidal little twerp of a student-poet to hang on his every word I never saw.
11. I am at a loss to understand why people hold Miss Austen’s novels at so high a rate, which seem to me vulgar in tone, sterile in artistic invention, imprisoned in their wretched conventions of English society, without genius, wit, or knowledge of the world.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
12. To me he is an enormously skillful f#*&-up and his book will do great damage to our country. Probably I should re-read it again to give you a truer answer. But I do not have to eat an entire bowl of scabs to know they are scabs…I hope he kills himself….
Ernest Hemingway about James Jones
13. Paradise Lost’ is one of the books which the reader admires and lays down, and forgets to take up again. None ever wished it longer than it is.
Samuel Johnson about Milton’s “Paradise Lost”
Go to Thursday 13 to read what other participants wrote about.