Wednesday, December 19, 2012

50 Best Literary Insults (Thank you, ShortList)

You have favorite lines from Shakespeare, don't you? Roald Dahl, Margaret Atwood, James Joyce? Lines so poignant, so rife with truth that they dropped like smooth riverstones into the still pond of your mind, that you felt the ripples to the tips of your fingers?

Of course you do.

Gabriel García Márquez
The literature greats are famous for these lines. These snippets of wordsmithery, these bonfires of language that, like alchemy, turn words into so very much more than the sum of the parts. Descriptions of landscape, of light, of a smile, a tear, a movement. Lines like

"She would not shed a tear, she would not waste the rest of her years simmering in the maggot broth of memory."
~ Gabriel García Márquez

Marguerite Duras
"You alone became the outer surface of my life, the side I never see, and you will be that, the unknown part of me, until I die."
~ Marguerite Duras

Oh, we could go on and on, couldn't we? What about Mercutio's dreams speech in Romeo & Juliet? Or those fantastic tidbits, scalpel-subtle, scalpel-sharp, in the voice of Holden Caulfield? Mm-hmm, I know.

But what about the insults? Because these fantastic weavers of legend are at their best when their wit scathes. Do NOT miss ShortList's 50 Best Literary Insults. My favorites (try and match them to the writer before browsing the whole List):

  • “This liberal doxy must be impaled upon the member of a particularly large stallion!”
  • “If your brains were dynamite there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off.” 
  • “I desire that we be better strangers.” 
  • “In my mind, Martha, you are buried in cement right up to your neck. No… right up to your nose… that’s much quieter.” 
  • “I never saw anybody take so long to dress, and with such little result.” 
  • “He would make a lovely corpse” 

Authors / Books (not in order)

Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake
Edward Albee, Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf
Charles Dickens, The Life And Adventures Of Martin Chuzzlewit
Shakespeare, As You Like It
John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy Of Dunces
Oscar Wilde, The Importance Of Being Earnest

Ah, the power of words :)


  1. Oh, that quote from Marguerite Duras... sweet.

    And the dynamite quote = precious! Thanks, Guilie!

    1. Marguerite Duras is one of my fave sources for quotes. She is so damned quotable! :D One of these days I'll manage to read her in French, and I'm sure I'll be blown away. Haha, the dynamite one was the reason I decided to write this post--I *had* to keep it somewhere ;) Thanks for the visit, sweetie!

  2. Agree, I love the dynamite quote, but also the lovely corpse one. Oooh, I know a couple contenders to play that role!

    1. I thought the same thing when I read it, hahahahaha--"I know several people I could actually say this of" :D Thanks for stopping by, Cindy :)

  3. Great blog!!!

    If you like, come back and visit mine:

    Pablo from Argentina

  4. LOL at these, esp. at the doxy/stallion one (which, I must admit, seems it'd be more than a bit painful. And gross.) ;-)
    Some Dark Romantic


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