We’ve all had that experience of speaking to someone we admire only to be completely blindsided by an offensive remark. Your first thought inevitably is “Did you really just say that?”, followed closely by “Why did you have to say that? I really liked you.”
This gets even trickier when the people espousing derogatory remarks are your favorite writers. After all, there’s no rule that says the writers you like are necessarily good people. Still, finding out your most beloved author is, say, deeply sexist can manifest in how you read their fiction. So read on with caution because these awful quotes might just ruin these 15 authors for you.
You know him as … an American poet who contributed to the Imagism movement in the early 20th century.
But did you know he was also … anti-semitic? Pound believed that Jewish money-lending caused World War I and II. He went on Italian radio to claim “You let in the Jew and the Jew rotted your empire, and you yourselves out-jewed the Jew,” and “The big Jew has rotted EVERY nation he has wormed into.”
Pound was later imprisoned for treason, only to be found insane and confined to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in New Jersey, where he wrote letters arguing for his tolerance, writing, “I am ‘of course’ not anti-Semitic.” There is “of course” something about air quotes that makes it read like a reluctant apology.
You know him as … late 20th century comedic novelist.
But did you know he was also … a bigot? Amis wrote letters soaked in homosexual and anti-semitic slurs. He referred to homosexuals as “queers,” “poofters” and “queens,” and called Jewish publishers “filthy lying profiteering bugger-the-author Yids.” Keep it classy, Kingsley.
In 1962, the novelist wrote that anti-semitism in all forms must be combated, but three decades later he also wrote, “It’s rather like being a Jew, no matter what you do or don’t do, you can’t help being one.” Guess he had a change of heart?