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Literary Rogues: A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors Paperback – February 5, 2013
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“Entertaining and well-researched.” (Kirkus Reviews )
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
*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.Read more ›
As I read this book I was a little taken aback when I would catch myself smiling and chuckling at passages I read. I mean, this is tragic stuff. These are literary greats who fought their demons to produce works of literature that defined their generation. Why did I find it humorous? Then it dawned on me. There wasn't anything wrong with me. It was Andrew Shaffer. His ability to present these larger than life men and women in all their flawed glory, shining a light not only on their genius but on their proclivity for self-destruction while sprinkling in just the right amount of whit and snark so that the book doesn't read like a trudge knee deep through the sludge of despair.
I usually reserve 5 stars for works that draw me in so completely that I forget reality and live in the book for a while. Books that have me checking how much more I have to read because I don't want them to end. Books that seem to crawl into your pores and come to life while feeding off of your emotions. This book did none of that. What it did do is leave an imprint on me that will change what I bring to the works of these authors. I'll read them with new eyes and a new respect for what it cost them to be writers and for a few of them I'll marvel at how they were ever able to put pen to paper in the first place. And it has made me want to sincerely ask every writer I follow whether on the internet or at book signings, "How are you? No, really how are you?" For that and for contributing to my already out of control To Be Read list I give this book 5 stars.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is great. The author also writes another book about Poets who failed at love. Both are great reads.Published 4 months ago by TiffanyD
I have to say that, for me, this has been a rare rip through read. I just couldn't put the book down and found myself chuckling at Andrew Shaffer's lines and comments. Read morePublished 11 months ago by JBP
You could probably just read most of this stuff on Wikipedia, but its still a fun read. Doesn't go very deep into any author's life story, just a 5 or 10 page recap of their bad... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Tim
The author of this book takes the reader through several hundred years retelling the lives of famous authors of well-known literature. Read morePublished on December 18, 2013 by Frank J. Konopka
This book gave very interesting life stories about famous authors. I ordered it on my kindle to keep after reading the library book.Published on August 30, 2013 by Susan F. Ehrlich
When you hear about all the "greats" from the past, the thing you always hear was how messed up they were. Read morePublished on August 1, 2013 by Amazon reviewer
A book well worth reading. Great insights to well known authors with not always well know challenges. I think you will enjoy it.Published on July 4, 2013 by Ross Burton Business Coach
This is a book that I suspect many will skim for a small quick doses of pleasure. But why should it be fun to read about the miscreant behavior of others, especially when that so... Read morePublished on June 21, 2013 by Shalom Freedman
This book distorts the writers' lives and reads like a reject from the National Enquirer. It was useful, though, in firing a warning shot to my book club. Read morePublished on June 11, 2013 by Barbara Ann Ogle