Shakespeare Insult Generator by Barry Kraft, 2014
A PLAGUE ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES!
A POX ON YOUR CHICKEN LIVERS!
THOU FAWNING FOUL-MOUTHED FUSTILARIAN!
There I was, on a sweltering summer afternoon, browsing in an air-conditioned bookstore, when I discovered a Shakespearean book by Barry Kraft. Was it an in-depth analysis of the Bard’s 38+ 16th-century plays? An instruction book for aspiring poets on creating sonnets with iambic pentameter? Or a collection of Shakespeare’s famous quotes for the serious Elizabethan scholar? Not even close! Imagine my surprise–and sheer joy–when on page eleven of this nifty little 6″ x 5″ book, I read the first of many Shakespearean insults: “APISH, BALD-PATED ABOMINATION”!
Kraft’s book has 162 moveable rectangular cards, allowing the reader to create more than 150,000 insult combinations. Kraft deserves praise for his patient, diligent research of Shakespeare’s plays to create this literary gem. With a little imagination–and a lot of laughter–you can design different insults for any occasion. May I make some suggestions?
Instead of shaking your angry fist at the driver who cuts you off in traffic, why not shout at him or her, “THOU ARTLESS, CLAY-BRAINED RAMPALLIAN!” (ruffian, scoundrel)? Or, what do you call an office colleague who does not pull his or her weight? “THOU WITLESS, STUBBORN-HARD RAT-CATCHER” (a person of low employment) might be in order. Lastly, how do you address relatives who overstay their welcome (sigh!) and eat you out of house and home? Well, here you can be very inventive indeed. As they pull out of your driveway, waving, teary-eyed, and promising to visit again soon, you can mutter under your breath, “THOU COVETOUS, SWAG-BELLIED PARASITES!” (people who take, while giving nothing). Of course, if none of the above insults help, you can always memorize Kent’s offensive tirade from Shakespeare’s King Lear (on page 7 of Kraft’s book). For a most enjoyable experience, please read aloud! Are you ready?
“OSWALD: What dost thou know me for?
KENT: A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats, a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking, whoreson glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel….”
Oh dear! I had better stop there. Clearly, poor Kent is upset. Perhaps, he should have heeded King Lear’s words of wisdom to his daughter, Cordelia:
“Mend your speech a little, lest you may mar your fortunes.”
King Lear Act I, Scene I
Barry Kraft’s Shakespeare Insult Generator is the perfect book to read on a cold winter’s day. You can huddle up to your fireside with a roasted turkey leg in one hand and a mug of mead in the other–just to get into the 16th-century spirit!
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Sarah M. Fredericks © 2015
Carpe Librum!📚Seize the Book…and let the page-turning begin!