Mine is Agatha Christie
Mine is Agatha Christie
Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, Cormac McCarthy, Thomas Pynchon, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, Vladimir Nabokov, W.B. Yeats, George R.R. Martin, Daniel Abraham, Stephen King.
Thoreau, Melville, Euripides, Seneca, Hemingway, Cather, Wordsworth, Keats, Yeats, Plato, Emerson, deTocqueville, Machiavelli, Wallace Stevens, Edward Abbey, Barry Lopez. . . .
Shakespeare, Dante, Baudelaire, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Homer, Ovid, Petrarch, Firdawsi, Ariosto, Spenser, Montaigne, Sterne, Goethe, J.L. Borges, William Blake, Thomas Traherne, Coleridge, Milton, Cervantes, Melville, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Rilke, Eugenio Montale, Leopardi, Proust, T.S. Eliot, Tu Fu, Li Bo, Wang Wei, Hermann Hesse, Dickens, Whitman, etc...
Just a few to start...
Not to be flippant but if each of us names two dozen authors, the answers as much as the question become completely useless and, it were better had no names been mentioned than a huge plethora which completely destroys the concept of a single and small group of artists which personally resonate in our hearts to a degree which no other can compare.
I suppose some people may not have such specific and concrete epiphanies and thus do not posses a few elect artists with whom they feel their very being is mirrored, but still let us try to keep the lists at not more than 3 artists, otherwise the notion of favorite becomes usless, and the question to which one replies is not whom are you favorite, but rather, which ones do you like. The former implying the utmost degree of selectivity, the latter merley requires for a heigtened sense of pleasure. Much like the differnce between listing all the women(or men) whom you have fuked and listing all the women(or men) whom you have loved. The former is a large list which revelas very little about the speaker, the latter a specified and selective list which reaveal much about the speaker.
As For me:
Addressing the literary aspect of your post, MortalTerror suggested an opposite strategy. He pointed out that in a list of 10 or 20 authors most of us who have read a great deal will include those obvious authors whom we could not be without: Shakespeare, Dante, Homer, Goethe, Montaigne, etc... Going well beyond this arbitrary cut-off... past the point where all of us might preserve all of those authors that we could not be without... we might then explore the realm of those authors uniquely important to us.
What authors have I read and re-read and read again? What authors do I love well beyond their deserved status? I think I would have to name J.L. Borges, Italo Calvino, Rilke, and Robert Herrick... and perhaps Kafka, Baudelaire, Edmund Spenser, and William Blake.
But again... are these my "favorites"? Would I give up Shakespeare or Dante or the Arabian Nights for Rilke or Herrick or even Borges? I think not.
Perhaps if one wanted to learn something about the "speaker" we should ask him or her for 2 or 3 books (or authors) that the individual particularly liked... yet limit these to authors rarely ever mentioned on LitNet. One might also ask for a bit of info as to just why the individual admires this or that author.
Let me use a personal example. My grandfathers Cousin, during the war, at the age of 19 ran away from home to join a partisan group fighting against the fascists. A few months later he and a group of other partisans were captured in a failed attack on a military outpost, they were taken to the small town (which has been the home of my family from time immemorial) lined up in the square besides the church and shot, by firing squad for treason.
Now my Grandfather's other Cousin, the sister of the 20 year old who died that day, told me that the night before Antonio was executed, he had asked of one of the Fascist officers (a man who had been the school-fellow of my grandfather) a final favor of having Homer's Iliad in greek given to him during the last night of his life.
And here is the axiom, he chose Homer's Iliad, why do you think he chose it, because it was the best work of literature, because he enjoyed it immensely, or because in that book, he found a kinship, a feeling almost divine, which he knew he wanted to pass his final hours of life with.
So do not tell me you great lists and then use reason to back up the fact that it is impossible to pick one single author for an erudite man. Tell me were you in his position, who would you have picked to keep you company in your final hours of life?
That is a question to which every man replies differently, yet merely listing our favorites authors the same men (Dante, Shakespeare Virgil) always come up out of a sense of duty, it is easy to give a list of 50, but to choose a mere single one, therein lies a true revaluation about your artistic taste.
I do not think that night that Antonio stood there to ponder, about genius or greatness or importance or influence or none of that academic speculation fit for men who wish to while away time. He picked without thought with the same instinct as that of a child when he drinks from his mother's breast.
Last edited by Alexander III; 05-02-2012 at 01:37 PM.
I'm more than somewhat skeptical of Alex' portrayal of himself, to say nothing of his tales of the dramatic adventures of his family... yet even if I were to accept the above narrative at face value I question the notion that we might all easily choose a single writer who means more to us than any other... and that this writer would quite likely be someone other than one of the greatest, and most canonical writers. Quite honestly, confronted with the desert island scenario I would be torn between Shakespeare, Dante, the Bible, the Arabian Nights, and the Shahnameh for the simple reason that to my mind they represent the greatest wealth of narrative, atmosphere, and character development available. Regardless of their influence and standing within the canon of literature, these are the writers I have turned to again and again. I have 5 or 6 translations of Dante's Comedia and two of his Vita Nuova, 3 translations of the Arabian Nights, two of the Shahnameh, and numerous translations and commentaries on the Bible. A good many of my favorite paintings and works of music have been inspired by these authors, and I have personally turned to their themes again and again in my own work.
Then again... there was a thread not long ago in which one member suggested that he suspected that many who listed Dante, Shakespeare, Homer, Goethe, Aeschylus, etc... among their favorite authors most assuredly must be posing. I see no reason for posing. Bach is also my favorite composer... followed by Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Handel, Schubert, Richard Strauss, etc... Michelangelo is my favorite artist... followed by Rubens, Rembrandt, Degas, Bonnard, Matisse, etc... I love Rilke, Eugenio Montale, Boris Pasternak, Faure, Rameau, Copland, Frans Hals, Fra Filippo Lippi, and Soutine... but none has given me the same degree of pleasure as Shakespeare, Bach, or Michelangelo.
I can choose as many favorite authors as I want. A person's favorite authors are his favorite authors. Some will have three, some will have twenty.
Frankly, we've had so many of these "list your favorite author" threads it's ridiculous, but it's quick to throw down a quick list. I didn't think much about mine.
Russian: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gogol, Pushkin
English: Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Graham Greene, Arthur Conan Doyle, Roald Dahl, E. A. Poe
Shakespeare, Wilde, Milton, Wordsworth, Keats and Chekhov have persistently followed me around the house over the years and so would certainly be included on my list, amongst many others.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).
I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.
Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.
I was in a local bookstore today. I sold a big stack of books, as a sort of symbol of change and purging and all that, and I realized that I didn't have any hardcover books. Since there's all this talk lately about paper books going away forever some time in the possibly not too distant future, it seemed like now was as good a time as any to start stalking up on some sturdy hardcovers that can take a few decades worth of wear and tear. I asked myself, "Let's say books went away tomorrow, or some horrible thing happened that left you unable to keep all the books you own and you had to reduce your collection to what you could carry on your back...What two books would you want to carry around and study for the foreseeable future?"
I decided on The Sound and the Fury and Ulysses. So, what my rambling story comes down to is that William Faulkner and James Joyce are the authors that have resonated with me most.
To round it out to five, I'd go with: