Great Writers Who for Some Reason Hated Shakespeare


Old Tolstoy Found Religion – But No Love for Shakespeare

While I spend the weekend hanging out at the California Antiquarian Book Fair, I thought you might enjoy a sampling of contrarian points of view to my heavy doses of Bardology.

This all began when I discovered tp my amazement that no less than the eminent Leo Tolstoy detested Shakespeare with a white-hot passion. I plan to read an ebook of his essay graciously made available for free by the Guttenberg Project.

Tolstoy on Shakespeare

In the meantime, this sent me on a most bizarre odyssey as I googled one shocking tale after another of famous people who could not stand either Shakespeare or his work. Surely there must be some professional jealousy going on here.

If there is any truth to professor Harold Bloom’s theory in the “agon” of the ages, that great artists inherit an obligation to absorb the accomplishments of their predecessors, this must quite naturally lead to enormous anxiety when you face the daunting challenge of having to follow upon the likes of Homer, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton. Better to draw a mustache on the Mona Lisa than attempt to top it.

That could, in part, explain these:

Voltaire called Shakespeare’s works an “enormous dunghill.”

Tolstoy was equally unimpressed, calling Will’s writing “Crude, immoral, vulgar and senseless.”

George Bernard Shaw really waxed poetic about how much he hated Shakespeare. “There is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare,” he said. “It would be positively a relief to me to dig him up and throw stones at him.”

I wish I could post this shocking listing from Brianpickings in full. But I offer this smattering of quotes as an appetizer and an invitation to bang the LINK for more.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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