Let's hear it for literary feuds

Rather than rejoice in the reconciliation between García Marquez and Vargez Llosa, I believe feuding pens write with more wit than the nibs of praise

Karl Marx once suggested that mankind was happiest in feudal society. Unfortunate for Marx, then, that he lived in more of a feuding society. The French anarchist Jean-Pierre Proudhon, author of the happy phrase "property is theft" and of most of the economic theory that subsequently travelled under Marx's name, never recovered from his final spat with the bearded bully, philosopher and practitioner of alienation.

Appropriately, Proudhon stole the notion of ownership as theft from Rousseau, whose genius for the pen was mirrored by a fluent gift for poisoning literary friendships. From Diderot to Voltaire, and Hume to Holbach, Rousseau managed to fall out with pretty much every writerly connection he ever made. But what can you expect from the man who invented autobiography, literature's most lightly-dressed form of egotism? Indeed, given that writing's basic ingredient is a paranoia-fuelled confidence that others should see the world as you do, how do any decent writers become friends in the first place, let alone make up again later?

Nevertheless, it seems that two of Latin America's greatest living writers, Gabriel García Marquez and Mario Vargez Llosa, have managed to bury the hatchet with which they famously attacked each other 30 years ago in a Mexican cinema...

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