Minggu, 11 Agustus 2013

The Greats

This is an idle question, but perhaps an entertaining one too.  I was thinking to myself, while reading a biography of Ivy Compton-Burnett, which authors I would place among the Truly Greats.  There are thousands of authors who are good, hundreds who are very good, but I could only come up with a list of five whom I consider to be Great.  That is, their writing is not only better than other authors', but different somehow - and so different that even imitators seem to belong to another world, or perhaps another plane.

On that list, after careful consideration, I put, in order that they wrote:

William Shakespeare
Jane Austen
Charles Dickens
Virginia Woolf
Ivy Compton-Burnett

I doubt anybody would put together this same list.  I am limited to the authors I have read and that, in turn, is limited to writing in modern English.  Some people might only have one name on their list; a lot would put down many more.  I have not necessarily chosen my favourite authors (although three of these - the women - would qualify for that too.) That would be a substantially longer list.  I have chosen the only writers whose work resonates (to me) with something extra, something special, something which sets them enormously apart from anybody else.

As I say, in some ways this is an artificial question - but I suspect some of you might have answers.  And I'd be intrigued to hear them.

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