Sunday, October 24, 2010

Your 15 Authors

Over on Facebook, my favorite socialist revolutionary and friend Jason Chappell has started a little project, name your 15 favorite and most influential authors.
So, I'm sharing the challenge with you my vast readership (all 5 of you). Who are the 15 authors who shaped your outlook the most?

The Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors (poets included) who've influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.

Mine in no particular order:

Hannah Arendt
WH Auden
Thomas Mann
Rheinhold Niebuhr
Mark Twain
Paul Tillich
Martin Buber
TS Eliot
Walt Whitman
William Blake
Blaise Pascal
George Orwell
Albert Camus
Martin Luther King Jr.

Quite a spread. A lot of these folks I couldn't imagine in the same room together.


JCF said...

John Steinbeck
Tom Robbins
Mohandas K. Gandhi
Joan Bondurant (Gandhian scholar---explains Gandhi better than MKG does!)
William Shakespeare
Thomas Merton
Dante Aligheri
WEB DuBois
CS Lewis
Robert Tapert & Co: the creators of Xena Warrior Princess (you know I'm TOTALLY serious)
Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Toni Morrison
John of the Cross

I think there's a fair amount of diversity there... ;-/

[I could have listed "Authors of the Bible", but felt that, as a Christian, that's sort of understood. Disclaimer: I bumped George Orwell, and Martin Luther King Jr, to add Virgil and Homer. I'm tempted to bump more contemporary authors for some of the Ancient Greek playwrights (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides)]

Counterlight said...

Someone else who I'd add to my list if I could, a very great political pragmatist, a great Italian patriot, and even a great political moralist (his morality was Classical, not Christian), Machiavelli.
I'd add that other great Renaissance neo-pagan, Leonardo da Vinci whose writings on painting are still very much worth reading.

Counterlight said...

Excellent respectable list, JCF, especially the Buffy and Xena entries.

JCF said...

(Having now read your list, Doug)

Shit! I left out Whitman! }-X

Counterlight said...

Having read YOUR list JCF, "Shit! I left out Gandhi and Toni Morrison!"

JCF said...

Thanks, Doug.

I'll also admit: I left in Toni Morrison, mainly because I wanted more women on my list (I liked Beloved . . . and INTEND to read her earlier works---God knows I own a few! My LibraryThing is here.) But I was still kind of posturing. Y'know, like a "gay liberal socialist" will do. ;-p

Counterlight said...

Hannah Arendt is the best man on my list.

Counterlight said...

Lord knows we need more gay liberal socialists. Let's start the recruitment drive.

kishnevi said...

My fifteen, in no order at all

Charles Williams

Dorothy L Sayers

DT Suzuki (the writer on Zen)

Chaung Tzu

"Dionysius the Areopagite" (whoever actually wrote the writings we know under that name)

Edmund Spenser

Aleister Crowley

whoever actually wrote the Zohar

the editors of the Talmud

Ayn Rand (sometimes positive, sometimes in a negative "this is what happens when you make a bad choice" sort of way)

Cao Xueqin (author of "Dream of the Red Chamber")

Henry Fielding

Chaim Grade

T. H. White


kishnevi said...

oops, sorry for the double post.

Counterlight said...


G said...

i follow yr blog via rss

my 15 are
antoine st exupery
albert camus
michel foucault
allen ginsberg
james baldwin
derek jarman
samuel beckett
walt whitman
federico garcia lorca
judith butler
dennis cooper
douglas coupland
raymond carver
james robert baker
patti smith

i'd probably include david wojnarowicz as one of the writers who has made the biggest impression on me, particularly because i got to look at his hand written diaries when i was in nyc last year... i just wish he'd written more...

Counterlight said...

I'm a fan of Wojnarowicz myself. I might put him on my list.

rick allen said...

"Favorite authors" and "most influential authors" for me make up two different groups. But here is a list, put in chronologigal order of my encountering them, of those most-influential writers who made me think differently,and who gave me a jolt, even if ultimately I may not have gone with all of them.

(I will go with JCF in keeping the bible out of it, as it has a rather different standing if one is raised with it.)

1. Charles Schultz
2. Mark Twain
3. Alexander Solzhenitsyn
4. Plato
5. Martin Heidegger
6. Raymond Chandler
7. Alexander Pope
8. John Henry Newman
9. Karl Marx
10. Homer
11. Thomas Aquinas
12. G.K. Chesteron
13. Confucius
14. Eric Hobsbawm
15. Miquel de Cervantes Saavedra

Though like most people I enjoy list-making, I think this sort of archeology of one's own thinking is rather important. Many of our differences can, I think, be traced to the history of how we encountered certain ideas. It doesn't resolve the differences, but it helps nevertheless.

(And I will add an apologia for leaving out Gandhi--I was absolutely smitten with him between Twain and Solzhenitsyn above, when in middle school. But it wasn't through his writing, or as a writer, but through a number of different accounts of his life).

Counterlight said...

Of course, this is also great pleasure for those of us who enjoy that very naughty pleasure of seeing what's on other people's bookshelves.

it's margaret said...

Simone Weil
Hans Christian Andersen
CS Lewis
Mary Oliver
RS Thomas
JRR Tolkien
Annie Proulx
Willa Cather
Elizabeth Alexander
Upton Sinclair

that's all I can think of on a lazy Monday afternoon....

it's margaret said...

Oh yeah --Wittgenstein

Counterlight said...

Kazantzakis and Wittgenstein, Margaret you little heretic. I'm impressed.

it's margaret said...

ohhhh --I think it was Willa Cather that made me a heretic --and Kazantzakis that brought me back in to the fold... (heheheheh!)

--And, my little dog, Mr. Witty --is named for Wittgenstein --a man of few words...

JCF said...

Who else {cringed} either at the authors you haven't read . . . or hadn't even heard of? :-0 (Eric Hobsbawm? Chaim Grade?)

Counterlight said...

I'm cringing at everyone's list. Y'all are much better read than I am.

rick allen said...

No need to cringe. I like to say, "Everybody is stupid about something." Re Joan Bondurant, Robert Tapert, and Joss Whedon, I would have been totally clueless without your explanations. (and as to "pop" figures, one I scould have put in for an "earliest" influence was Bob Kane--I was against the death penalty as a kid because of Batman. It stuck.)

Hobsbawm is an elderly English Communist historian. He wrote a very good series of books on the modern world--The Age of Revolution, The Age of Capital, The Age of Empire, The Age of Extremes. One needn't be a Communist (I'm obviously not) to appreciate an account of the last two hundred and fifty years that actually treats as important the lives of ordinary working people.