🎤ABOUT LIT: Shakespeare Insult Generator by Barry Kraft and POEM: “That is the Question” by Sarah M. Fredericks

Shakespeare Insult Generator by Barry Kraft, 2014


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.”
William Shakespeare
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!

Did you enjoy this review? I would value your opinion in the comment box below. Thank you.

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Sarah M. Fredericks © 2015

Carpe Librum!📚Seize the Book…and let the page-turning begin!


Filed under ABOUT LIT, AUDIO🎤, England, Ireland, POEM

4 responses to “🎤ABOUT LIT: Shakespeare Insult Generator by Barry Kraft and POEM: “That is the Question” by Sarah M. Fredericks

  1. Richard

    Great post, Sarah! 😊

    I didn’t realize Shakespeare was so insulting! I think most people would be struck dumb if you insulted them in the vernacular of that time. Sting (the British musician, Gordon Sumner) has a great story. He was approached one night on a bridge by an angry drunk. The man started shouting at Sting, who waited until the man finished and then calmly quoted Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130: “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun…” The man was dumbfounded, turned, and sailed away into the night.
    When he got home, Sting began writing his second solo album and called it “Nothing like the sun…”

    By the way, Sarah, your audio was excellent. You obviously have a talent with words😀. Bring on some more xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Richard. I love your story about Sting. Here is Sonnet 130 in its entirety for your enjoyment.

      Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare
      “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
      Coral is far more red than her lips’ red:
      If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
      If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
      I have seen roses demask’d, red and white,
      But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
      And in some perfumes is there more delight
      Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
      I love to hear her speak – yet well I know
      That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
      I grant I never saw a goddess go –
      My mistress when she walks, treads on the ground:
      And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
      As any she, belied with false compare.”


  2. Marcus

    Brilliant Sarah!

    There is nothing like a well thought out insult. Merely shouting out the usual one-worded curses is too easy really – a lazy man’s way. I was recently watching an interview with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, and the interviewer said to Burton (I am paraphrasing here), “You are both well known for fighting and swearing and insulting each other in public…” Burton replied, “Yes, we do it all the time, but we are careful not to really hurt one another – to (verbally) aim at the underbelly of a person, knowing you will really hurt his/her feelings.” I thought about how we all possess this power, especially if we know the person well. But, what’s the point? As Jack Nicholson says in Mars Attacks, “Why can’t we all just…get along?”


    • Thank you Marcus. From everything I have read about Burton and Taylor, I believe their relationship was a fiery one. However, it is also true that they loved each other very much. If you want to see them firing insults at each other (Shakespearean style), watch the movie adaptation of Albee’s play, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Fantastic! Also, they starred together in the movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, “The Taming of the Shrew.” Superb acting!


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