In 1971 Norman Mailer head-butted Gore Vidal just before a recording of the Dick Cavett Show (both were invited guests), because Vidal gave a bad review to “The Prisoner of Love” published earlier in the year. The on-screen exchange is a classic of television invective.
Vidal smartly forgave Mailer in a not so many words:
“Yet of all my contemporaries I retain the greatest affection for Norman as a force and as an artist. He is a man whose faults, though many, add to rather than subtract from the sum of his natural achievements.”
Martin Amis once described Mailer as “this pampered super-brat.”
Mark Twain hated Jane Austen:
“Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”
But then again, Mark Twain held many greats in little regard, including the Great Bard:
“With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare…”
William Faulkner, on the other hand, had this to say about Twain:
“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.
Ernest Hemingway, according to Vladimir Nabokov:
“As to Hemingway, I read him for the first time in the early ‘forties, something about bells, balls and bulls, and loathed it.”
Jan Diehm created a curious and entertaining interactive infographic for The Huffington Post, showing which ones of the famous writers had to gird their loins against the barbs and arrows of which other famous writers.
Most of the remarks are gloriously witty, truly worthy of the great talents that put hand to paper.
Follow the link WAY HARSH. Famous Authors Who Hated Each Other’s Writing (Infographic) to a full screen interactive version.