Top Ten Literary Insults

atkins-bookshelf-literatureNo serious author is content with writing a simple, direct insult when an eloquent, metaphorical insult packs far more punch. Exhibit A: Albany’s scathing insult to Goneril, in Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Lear: “O Goneril, / You are not worth the dust which the rude wind / Blows in your face.” Touché! In that same — and poisonous — vein, Bookshelf presents the top ten insults from literature. Use at your own discretion.

“Thou art a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy worsted-stocking knave; a lily-liver’d, action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mungril bitch.”
The Tragedy of King Lear by William Shakespeare

“He would make a lovely corpse.”
Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens

“He was one of the numerous and varied legion of dullards, of half-animated abortions, conceited, half-educated coxcombs, who attach themselves to the idea most in fashion only to vulgarize it and who caricature every cause they serve, however sincerely.”
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

“I told him he didn’t even care if a girl kept all her kings in the back row or not, and the reason he didn’t care was because he was a goddam stupid moron. He hated it when you called him a moron. All morons hate it when you call them a moron.”
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

“He is simply a hole in the air.”
The Lion and the Unicorn by George Orwell

“Thou wretch! – thou vixen! – thou shrew!” said I to my wife on the morning after our wedding, “thou witch! – thou hag! – thou whipper-snapper! – thou sink of iniquity – thou fiery-faced quintessence of all that is abominable!”
The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

“I misjudged you… You’re not a moron. You’re only a case of arrested development.”
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

“He was a tool of the boss, without brains or backbone.”
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

“You bloody old towser-faced boot-faced totem-pole on a crap reservation.”
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

“You’re a beast and a swine and a bloody, bloody thief!”
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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