William Shakespeare is undoubtedly the preeminent English manof letters. Or is he? Many have disagreed...
An upstart crow beautified with our feathers.
The most insipid, ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life.
Samuel Pepys: referring to A Midsummer Night'sDream
His rude unpolished style and antiquated phrase and wit.
A disproportioned and misshapen giant.
Shakespeare never had six lines together without a fault.Perhaps you may find seven, but this does not refute my general assertion.
I cannot read him, he is such a bombast fellow.
Was there ever such stuff as the greater part of Shakespeare? Onlyone must not say so.
Shakespeare - what trash are his works in thegross.
One of the greatest geniuses that ever existed, Shakespeare,undoubtedly wanted taste.
I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it sointolerably dull that it nauseated me.
Charles Darwin: Autobiography
The undisputed fame enjoyed by Shakespeare as a writer is, likeevery other lie, a great evil.
With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer,not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise so entirely as I despiseShakespeare when I measure my mind against his. The intensity of myimpatience with him occasionally reaches such a pitch, that it wouldpositively be a relief to me to dig him up and throw stones at him,knowing as I do how incapable he and his worshippers are of understandingany less obvious form of indignity.
George Bernard Shaw: after seeing Irving's productionof Cymbeline
If all the work of Shakespeare could be gathered up and burned inone pile, the world would witness the most beneficial action for the sakeof literature since the invention of alcohol.
The Waterloo, Iowa, Times-Tribune 1920