An artist or a hack?

by Mikhail Simkin

Some of the quotes below are from one of the greatest writers ever. The other are from one commercial writer, who achived popularity among uneducated people, but failed to make a contribution to Literature. Can you tell the difference between their prose?

After each quote choose the author. Hit the Submit button when done. The quiz will be graded and you will see the correct answers.

A louse crawled over the nape of his neck and, putting his thumb and forefinger deftly beneath his loose collar, he caught it. He rolled its body, tender yet brittle as a grain of rice, between thumb and finger for an instant before he let it fall from him and wondered would it live or die. There came to his mind a curious phrase from Cornelius a Lapide which said that the lice born of human sweat were not created by God with the other animals on the sixth day.

1. great writer commercial writer

I believe with Moses, with Jereboam, with Increase Mather, and with our own Hanson (when he is in a philosophical temperament), that there are spiritually noxious places, buildings were the milk of the cosmos has become sour and rancid.

2. great writer commercial writer

Creatures were in the field: one, three, six: creatures were moving in the field, hither and thither. Goatish creatures with human faces, hornybrowed, lightly bearded and grey as india-rubber. The malice of evil glittered in their hard eyes, as they moved hither and thither, trailing their long tails behind them. A rictus of cruel malignity lit up greyly their old bony faces. One was clasping about his ribs a torn flannel waistcoat, another complained monotonously as his beard stuck in the tufted weeds.

3. great writer commercial writer

But they went on giggling. The voices changed, no longer girlish, now sexless and soulless, and quite, quite evil. A slow, turgid sound of mindless humor that flowed around the corner to her like sewage. She stared at the hunched shadows and suddenly screamed at them. The scream went on and on, swelling in her head until it attained a pitch of lunacy. And then she fainted. The giggling, like the laughter of demons, followed her down into darkness.

4. great writer commercial writer

It would be a gloomy secret night. After early nightfall the yellow lamps would light up, here and there, the squalid quarter of the brothels. He would follow a devious course up and down the streets, circling always nearer and nearer in a tremor of fear and joy, until his feet led him suddenly round a dark corner.

5. great writer commercial writer

It was an obscenity. I daren’t describe that elaborately-framed picture further than this: that it was done after the fleshy style of Rubens; that it contained a grotesque travesty of a Madonna and child; that strange, half shadowed creatures sported and crawled in the background.

6. great writer commercial writer

The wind of the last day blew through his mind, his sins, the jewel-eyed harlots of his imagination, fled before the hurricane, squeaking like mice in their terror and huddled under a mane of hair.

7. great writer commercial writer

Once he got in the garage, he was blind. There was a light switch somewhere, but he was damned if he could remember anymore just where it was. He felt his way along slowly, shuffling his feet, his head swimming, anticipating a painful crack on the knee or a toy that he would stumble over, frightening himself with its crash...

8. great writer commercial writer

When it was gone at last, Louis got up and sauntered down the hall to a far corner. He crouched there, pulling himself into a ball, cramming himself into the corner, tighter and tighter. He found he could make himself smaller if he put a thumb into his mouth and so he did that.

9. great writer commercial writer

The droning voice of the professor continued to wind itself slowly round and round the coils it spoke of, doubling, trebling, quadrupling its somnolent energy as the coil multiplied its ohms of resistance.

10. great writer commercial writer

He looked at it without anger; for, though sloth of the body and of the soul crept over it like unseen vermin, over the shuffling feet and up the folds of the cloak and around the servile head, it seemed humbly conscious of its indignity.

11. great writer commercial writer

The worst – for me, at least – is the gnawing speculation that I may have already said everything I have to say, and am now listening to the steady quaking of my own voice because the silence when it stops is just too spooky.

12. great writer commercial writer