All bookworms know the feeling of coming across one of those special passages that give you a whole new perspective on life. It’s no wonder so many people take it to the next level by etching their favorite quotes onto their bodies. But while there are undeniably a lot of classy literary tattoos out there, sometimes ink is best left on the page. Here are some literary quotes that would make for instantly regrettable tattoos. Yes, even Shakespeare has a few.
“And then he felt the misery of his life.” (Of Human Bondage, by W. Somerset Maugham)
Nobody likes a bummer-town tattoo, so stay away from the broodiest passages of Maugham’s otherwise quotable corpus.
“If perchance the predicate thus introduced to characterize the absence peculiar and proper to writing were to find itself no less appropriate to every species of sign and communication, the consequence would be a general shift…” (Limited, Inc., by Jacques Derrida)
Derrida’s sentences are the grammatical equivalent of runaway freight trains. If you want to tattoo the thoughts of this philosopher onto yourself, you better be ready to commit a sizable patch of skin, and to have strangers in public reading your body intently, probably while moving their lips and looking perturbed.
“Hold up, you sluts.” (Timon of Athens, by William Shakespeare)
Shakespeare has probably inspired more tattoos than any other author, but that doesn’t mean everything he wrote is ink-worthy. Not only is some of his work offensive to the modern ear, a lot of it is just plain obtuse. Some of our favorite head-scratchers include “When gods have hot backs, what shall poor men do?” from The Merry Wives of Windsor and “Didst thou never see Titan kiss a dish of butter?” from Henry IV, Part I. What the what?
“See Spot run. Run, Spot, run.” (The Dick and Jane series, by William S. Gray and Zerna Sharp)
These books are beloved to many families, and make great learning aids for beginner readers. But they’re probably not great fodder for body art, unless you’re a toddler. In which case, why are you in such a hurry to get a tattoo? Is preschool really that rough these days?
“You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:28)
Getting this biblical passage inked onto your skin for irony’s sake would get old fast, and then you’re just left with a tattoo about how tattooing is bad. Thumbs down.
What literary quotes would make terrible tattoos?