Now You Can Read The Worst Novel Ever Written For Free!
Lots of criticism gets heaped on E.L. James for her clunky prose and all-around bad writing, but the Fifty Shades author doesn't hold a candle to Amanda McKittrick Ros, who is believed by many to be the worst writer in history. In this vein, her lone novel Irene Iddesleigh is also considered one of the worst books ever written, and now you can download it for free over at Project Gutenberg.
The history behind Irene Iddesleigh will no doubt remind you of the aforementioned Fifty Shades. According to an article from Cracked titled "5 People Who Failed Their Way to Fame And Fortune," the publishing of McKittrick Ros's novel was financed by her husband in 1897 as a 10th anniversary wedding present. No doubt the book would have faded into obscurity had it not been for humorist Barry Pain, who publicly sang Irene Iddesleigh's lack of literary virtues, calling it "a thing that happens once in a million years" (ironically, of course). Mark Twain labeled it "one of the greatest unintentionally humorous novels of all time."
There were Amanda McKittrick Ros societies at Oxford and Cambridge. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and their fellow Inklings were largely responsible for this enthusiasm: the informal Oxford literary group held sporadic Ros reading competitions, in which the winner was the member who could read from one of her novels for the longest without breaking into laughter … She was a sort of Bizarro World Oscar Wilde: an Irish author who became a London cause célèbre for the complete witlessness of her writing. Her fame even reached the shores of the New World, with no less a figure than Mark Twain crowning her 'Queen & Empress of the Hogwash Guild.'
So, just how bad was Irene Iddesleigh? Read the first paragraph, and see for yourself:
Have you ever visited that portion of Erin's plot that offers its sympathetic soil for the minute survey and scrutinous examination of those in political power, whose decision has wisely been the means before now of converting the stern and prejudiced, and reaching the hand of slight aid to share its strength in augmenting its agricultural richness?
Do you have any idea what she was trying to say there? Me neither.
Who's going to read the whole thing?
Image via The McCune Collection
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