Thursday, October 12, 2006

Nobody does it better

With a nod to Carole King for the lyrics, what she says is true. Nobody does it better, and writers are no exception.

Despite Shakespeare's enduring language, being the perennial subject of movies and inclusion in the curricula of nearly every university in the world, J.R.R. Tolkien despised him and considered Shakespeare a hack.

One of my favorite books, a birthday gift from Don, is Fighting Words. Even when the venomous quill pens of famous, and infamous, writers are employed in trashing their fellow writers, gems are dropped.

Excerpts from the book:

"The more I read him the less I wonder that they poisoned him." Thomas Babington Macauley on Socrates

"Aristotle invented science, but destroyed philosophy." Alfred North Whitehead on Aristotle

"Aristotle was famous for everything. He taught that the brain exists mainly to cool the blood and is not involved in the process of thinking. This is true only of certain persons." Will Cuppy on Aristotle

"Virgil's great judgment appears in putting things together, and in picking gold out of the dunghills of old Roman writers." Alexander Pope on Virgil

"As great a poet as Dante might have been, I wouldn't have had the slightest wish to know him. He was a terrible prima donna." W. H. Auden on Dante

"Chaucer, notwithstanding the praises bestowed on him, I think obscene and contemptible: he owes his celebrity merely to antiquity." Lord Byron on Geoffrey Chaucer

"Dr. Donne's verses are like the peace of God; they pass all understanding." James I on John Donne

That is all. Disperse.

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