Book Humor

Top 13 Horrible Reviews of Literary Classics

Twenty-five years ago, editor Bill Henderson compiled the Rotten Reviews Redux, a compendium of the cruelest, most vitriolic reviews of literary classics. Henderson strikes again in a new 2012 edition. The editors of Publisher’s Weekly sifted through the book and picked out thirteen of their favorites. In turn, I selected the three I found most entertaining.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.


“At a conservative estimate, one million dollars will be spent by American readers for this book. They will get for their money 34 pages of permanent value. These 34 pages tell of a massacre happening in a little Spanish town in the early days of the Civil War…Mr. Hemingway: please publish the massacre scene separately, and then forget For Whom the Bell Tolls; please leave stories of the Spanish Civil War to Malraux…” Commonweal, 1940, on For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

“Here all the faults of Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Brontë) are magnified a thousand fold, and the only consolation which we have in reflecting upon it is that it will never be generally read.” -James Lorimer, North British Review, 1847, on Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

“That this book is strong and that Miss Chopin has a keen knowledge of certain phrases of the feminine will not be denied. But it was not necessary for a writer of so great refinement and poetic grace to enter the overworked field of sex fiction.” Chicago Times Herald, 1899, on The Awakening by Kate Chopin


Intrigued? To see the other ten horrible reviews, visit Publisher’s Weekly:


~ Michelle




2 thoughts on “Top 13 Horrible Reviews of Literary Classics

  1. Pingback: They really missed their review « booknutcase

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