Writers on (bad) writing

It’s more fun to talk about bad writing than good writing. Christopher Hitchens’ newish memoir contains a line from a Clive James review of a biography so dull that, “If it were read in the open air, birds would fall stunned from the sky.”


It reminded us of a great passage from H.L. Mencken, who described President Warren Harding’s speeches thusly:


He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up to the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash.


To the ECR reader who claims to have seen this Mencken bit here before: Yes, and we suppose you are satisfied with hearing a Mozart symphony only once. 


What are your favorite examples of “writers on bad writing.”

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