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Literary Rogues: A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors Paperback – February 5, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0062077288 ISBN-10: 0062077287 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (February 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062077287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062077288
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #978,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“In this rollicking romp through a gallery of writers whose genius came with a price (alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, and other troubles), Shaffer offers a terrific blend of literary history, biography, and witty commentary.” (Publishers Weekly )

“Entertaining and well-researched.” (Kirkus Reviews )

From the Back Cover

Brimming with fascinating research, Literary Rogues is part nostalgia, part literary analysis, and a wholly raucous celebration of brilliant writers and their occasionally troubled legacies.

More About the Author

Andrew Shaffer is the New York Times-bestselling author of Syfy's How to Survive a Sharknado (Three Rivers Press) and Fifty Shames of Earl Grey (Da Capo Press). He has appeared as a guest on FOX News, CBS, and NPR, and has been published in Mental Floss, Maxim, and The Daily Beast, among others. You can find him online at www.andrewshaffer.com.

Customer Reviews

I love it and highly recommend it for everyone who loves reading, which should really be everyone, right?
Sheri Newton
As I read this book I was a little taken aback when I would catch myself smiling and chuckling at passages I read.
Regina W
This book is a must read for any obsessive compulsive reader (that would be me) or student of literary history.
Robbie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In these brief biographies of approximately forty "literary rogues," from the Marquis de Sade (1740 - 1814) to James Frey (1969 - ), author Andrew Shaffer enumerates the many addictions of each author - virtually all of them associated with alcoholism and drugs and/or their frequent carryover into sexual obsession. Significantly, and reflective of the role of women writers during the times about which Shaffer writes, only six women receive more than a sentence of recognition: Mary Shelley; Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Dorothy Parker, who were all contemporaries; Anne Sexton; and Elizabeth Wurtzel. While these women could probably hold their own with the literary male alcoholics and addicts of their times, they are small percentage of the small number of women who achieved fame as authors during this period. As Joyce Carol Oates pointed out, "Nobody tells anecdotes about the quiet people who just do their work,"

The first half of Shaffer's book deals with European authors, beginning with the Marquis de Sade, the source of the word "sadism," then moves on to Coleridge, an opium addict; Robert Burns, a hopeless alcoholic; and Thomas De Quincey, addicted to daily laudanum (mentioned in a chapter which also refers briefly to Louisa May Alcott's addiction to laudanum). The English Romantics, including Lord Byron (who may have impregnated his half-sister); Percy Bysshe Shelley; and Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, were hypersensitive, uninhibited, and prone to suicide. Poe, an American who married his thirteen-year-old cousin, used drink and drugs and was also a gambler. Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Verlaine added absinthe to the French drug culture of which they were part.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robbie on February 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Replete with references, this book does not judge but rather presents the Literary Rogues through their own eyes as well as the eyes of their fellow authors and contemporaries. It is an entertaining and insightful look into the lives of these wayward writers of whom Shaffer states "it ultimately wasn't because of their shocking behavior that they left behind anything of value-- it was in spite of it." This book is a must read for any obsessive compulsive reader (that would be me) or student of literary history. Author Andrew Shaffer has successfully penned a scholarly work that won't make you want to stick pins through your eyes.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By jrav on March 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
From thepickygirl.com:

*This book was offered to me via the publisher, Harper Perennial, in exchange for an honest review.

In January, a friend and I went to a Half Price Books. We separated, looking at the shelves obsessively. As I moved from one aisle to another, I heard this little gem:

"You know Hemingway hated women, right? He was, like, worse than Eminem."

I looked at the only other person in the aisle, who happened to be my friend, and raised my eyebrows. Poor Hemingway. Worse than Eminem. For whatever (ok, some justified) reason, Hemingway has always been the poster child of authors behaving badly. But he was far from the only one, and Andrew Shaffer's Literary Rogues: A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors takes a look at some of these authors, going all the way back to the Marquis de Sade and running up to (my least favorite) literary bad boy, Brett Easton Ellis.

Though you likely know at least a little about many of the authors included, Shaffer's focus on their addictions and afflictions makes for interesting reading, particularly in the drugs of choice, which change according to trends. Absinthe, opium, and alcohol all make the list, as does LSD. The presence of all that mind-altering material makes you wonder how these people could possibly get any work done. Give me a glass of wine, and I want sleep. Give most of these guys a liter, and they're workaholics.

Literary Rogues is like the crack it refers to so often. Even with my knowledge of almost all of these writers, I didn't want to stop reading. It's a compendium of bad behavior and a testament to the greatest generation of writers and their capabilities.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Diane C. Fox on May 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found myself distracted by the modern conversational slang of the narrative, which is rife with anachronisms. For example, when Byron compromises his sister, "the s--t hit the fan." Really? I didn't think they had electric fans in 1808. And Balzac wouldn't resemble Ron Jeremy, if anything Ron Jeremy resembles Balzac, since Balzac predates Ron. And who besides me reading a book like this would even know who Ron Jeremy is? The only reason I know is that I'm an ex porno writer. Then too, the author barely references the enormous accomplishments of these people. I'll admit I bought the book to read some interesting gossip about some of my favorite authors, but they should also receive the respect they are due. How can one mention Oscar Wilde without a single note about The Importance of Being Ernest, De Profundis or The Ballad of Reading Gaol? I got the feeling that while the author read some of the works of some of the people he was writing about, he merely looked up most of them, gathering the most readily available tidbits of scandal on them. I guess I am spoiled by the scholarly writing of people like Peter Ackroyd but the tone of this book simply doesn't match up well with the subject matter. If you're going to write about the best of the best in the literary world, show some respect, do some editing, impart a little elegance to your prose. I don't want my literary scholarship in simple, easy to understand, lowest common denominator language, I want it in written in beautiful English.
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