5 of the Best Burns from Classic Authors

Do you remember any of those novels you were forced to read in high school? The ones you probably read the SparkNotes for? Don’t take this the wrong way, ‘I’m not knocking the classics, they were sure full of… attitude.

The authors of these classic novels provided plenty of comebacks interwoven with their more oft-quoted lines. Get ready for 5 burns from your most beloved authors where they criticize both their worlds (both actual and fiction). Read on because The Mire has you covered for your next literary themed verbal throw-down.

“There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.”-Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

First up, Charles Dickens, who, in making this seriously savage burn, destroys any writer who isn’t himself. Conceited much? Dickens was an avid social critic of the 19th century, and by social critic, I mean rabid judgmental monster. I definitely missed this wit while reading the SparkNotes.

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“I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.”- Jane Austen, Jane Austen’s Letters

Jane Austen slams all of humanity in this blatant burn. Austen’s work, featuring commentary on the roles and portrayal of women, is sprinkled with irony and satire. Here, as usual, she doesn’t mince words… she slays them. Austen isn’t here to make friends, and neither are we. We can’t wait to use this one next time we are forced to socialize – the horror!

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“Everything intelligent is so boring.” – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Here, Leo Tolstoy makes a stab at… anything intelligent. Does this statement reflect his own novels, which are regarded as some of the most intelligent works of 19th century literature? Leo, why leave us with so many—how should I say it— burning questions? Regardless, we are pleased this esteemed author provides ammo to take down critics of our reality TV obsession. (No shame here.)

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“Pardon my sanity in a world insane” – Emily Dickinson

We are going to have to steal this scorchingly sarcastic line from Emily Dickinson, acclaimed 19th century poet. Dickinson’s “apology” is a roast in disguise! This line can be dropped in a political context, family situations, or the tragic combination of the two – just to name a few. #Sorrynotsorry.

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“I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.” -Oscar Wilde

Wilde casually smites God’s ambition and mankind in one fell swoop. Unfortunately, in this excessively self-important insult, Wilde takes himself down too – that is, unless he’s divulging that he isn’t a member of mankind (don’t get us started on alien conspiracies). Be careful with this one, or people might think you’re from another planet, but use it with an eye roll and you’ll be sure to end an argument with a literary mic drop.

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