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Hogarth judge

November 2017

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Hogarth judge

Book meme (From unagothae)

Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. They don't have to be the greatest books you've ever read, just the ones that left a lasting impression. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

Seriously though, I can think of a lot more than 15 off of the top of my head in under one minute. Still, let's see what comes out:

1. The book of Ecclesiastes.

(Not going to claim the whole Bible.)

2. Confessions of an English Opium Eater - Thomas de Quincey
3. Les Fleurs du Mal - Baudelaire
4. Rules and Exercises of Holy Dying - Jeremy Taylor
5. The Anatomy of Melancholy - Rob't Burton
6. Deathbird Stories - Harlan Ellison
7. Journey to the Centre of the Earth - Jules Verne
8. The Codebreakers - Robert Kahn
9. The Alphabet: A Key to the History of Mankind - David Diringer
10. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1954 edition
11. 78 Degrees of Wisdom - Rachel Pollack
12. Witchcraft, Magic, and Alchemy - Grillot de Givry
12a. Constitutional History of England - Henry Hallam
14. Epistle to the Galatians - St. Paul
15. The Law o the Land - Cy Rembar

Three writers I actively dislike:

Jane Austen. She lived in an exciting time of scientific discovery and stirring military conflict. Very little of this penetrates into her hothouse society of privileged women. The company of her gold-digger heroines, all of whom are obsessed with marrying money while remaining within the confines of a stifling propriety, is my personal Hell.

Ernest Hemingway. Too many periods. Not enough commas and semicolons. Seems to have inspired the USA Today prose style.

John Steinbeck. Never found the characters that interest him all that interesting.

Comments

Funny, I never thought of Twain as flag-waving. Kind of the opposite, in fact.
No, Twain isn't really like that, nor is Stephen Vincent Benet, nor Ambrose Bierce, nor Joshua Branch Cabell, nor H. L. Mencken. Those, along with the obvious ones (Poe and Hawthorne) are my favourite American "classic" writers.

It annoys that the standard model of American literature prioritizes social realism, when our true gift to the world is tales of grotesque fantasy. Entire literary movements can be traced back to Poe, in both verse and prose. He easily eclipses most other writers except maybe for Goethe in historic resonance. Poe is the true grandfather of all of the South American magic realists, and especially of Borges. As well as all detective fiction, and most science fiction. He is just our most important author, even if he never wrote a "great American novel".
Not keen on Hemmingway either to be honest, even though he was a friend of my grandfathers. Just seemed too dull and trodding.

I do however like Steinbeck quite a bit. I seemed to breeze through his prose.