From The Telegraph:
Rupert Hawksley doffs his cap to the writers whose poisoned barbs have hit home over the centuries.
. . . .
4. Henry James on Anthony Trollope (1866)
Well before Henry James went on to become the celebrated author of The Portrait of a Lady, he was dismissing some of the great novelists. Even Dickens did not escape James’s sharpened quill, but it is his treatment of Anthony Trollope in a review of The Belton Estate that is still so devastating: “It is utterly incompetent to the primary functions of a book…”, he wrote.
“We do not open his books with the expectation of being thrilled, or convinced, or deeply moved in any way, and, accordingly, when we find one to be as flat as a Dutch landscape, we remind ourselves that we have wittingly travelled into Holland, and that we have no right to abuse the scenery for being in character.”
“Our great objection to The Belton Estate is that, as we read it, we seemed to be reading a work written for children; a work prepared for minds unable to think; a work below the apprehension of the average man and woman…”
. . . .
7. Norman Mailer on Tom Wolfe (1998)
The American literary landscape crackled with animosity during the 80s and 90s and there is no better example of this fierce rivalry than Norman Mailer’s public execution of Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full for The New York Review of Books.
“At certain points, reading the work can even be said to resemble the act of making love to a three-hundred-pound woman. Once she gets on top, it’s over. Fall in love, or be asphyxiated.”
“Can we offer a final verdict? Tom may be the hardest-working show-off the literary world has ever owned. But now he will no longer belong to us. (If indeed he ever did!) He lives in the King Kong Kingdom of the Mega-bestsellers… he is certainly the most gifted bestseller writer to come along since Margaret Mitchell. If her style was banal, she understood nonetheless how signally perverse is the sense of romance in rich and beautiful women, and Mr Wolfe is not up to that yet.”
Link to the rest at The Telegraph and thanks to HG for the tip.