Best literary put-downs: Margaret Mitchell tops poll ahead of Jane Austen and Shakespeare
'My dear I don't give a damn' from Gone with the Wind voted favourite
When it comes to witty, often stinging put-downs in literature, Margaret Mitchell is the boss.
A new poll of 2,000 adults crowned the late US author queen of the verbal “burn” for a famous line uttered by Rhett Butler in her 1936 classic Gone with the Wind.
“My dear, I don’t give a damn”, later changed to the more memorable “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” for the film starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, picked up the most votes.
Lady Bracknell’s line from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest – “To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness” – followed in second place.
Completing the top three in the list of favourite insults is Om the tortoise’s bizarre snub in Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods. “May your genitals sprout wings and fly away” certainly sticks in the mind.
Other writers to feature to attract votes include Jane Austen, Agatha Christie and, as might be expected, William Shakespeare.
Adrian Wills, general manager of UKTV channel Drama, who commissioned the poll, said: “These authors had such an incredible ear for dialogue they would put most modern day script writers to shame.
“It’s clear that a great put-down is as memorable as a budding romance or tragic ending when it comes to enduring literature.”
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