Monday, July 25, 2011

I came across the Sunday Times list of “The 50 Greatest British Writers Since 1945” at Of Books and Bicycles.

  1. Philip Larkin – I don’t know as well as I should, but quite like what I’ve read.

  2. George Orwell - the two everyone has read, and some of the essays. On tea and grammar, well worth reading.

  3. William Golding – had trouble staying awake

  4. Ted Hughes – Paul Muldoon has rekindled my interest

  5. Doris Lessing – I’m ashamed to say not

  6. J. R. R. Tolkien - The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but otherwise just “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics

  7. V. S. Naipaul – ah, Mr. Biswas

  8. Muriel Spark – not yet

  9. Kingsley Amis - only Lucky Jim, which I didn’t find as funny as I’d hoped

  10. Angela Carter - no

  11. C. S. Lewis - too much. Narnia, Lost Planet, and a heap of his apologetics. While once I had time for him, that phase has passed.

  12. Iris Murdoch – never been excited

  13. Salman Rushdie - Midnight’s Children and the Satanic Verses

  14. Ian Fleming – Mom wouldn’t let me when she still okayed my reading as a lad, so I devoured the lot and found them boring as a teenager

  15. Jan Morris – unknown to me

  16. Roald Dahl – Quite a lot, though not for some time. I was quite fond of The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More

  17. Anthony Burgess - no

  18. Mervyn Peake – mmm… Gormenghast-y goodness

  19. Martin Amis – never been excited

  20. Anthony Powell - nope

  21. Alan Sillitoe – I read The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner because of Belle & Sebastian. Haven’t bothered with anything else.

  22. John Le Carré – decent, clever spy-thriller stuff but never got super excited

  23. Penelope Fitzgerald - no

  24. Philippa Pearce - no

  25. Barbara Pym - no

  26. Beryl Bainbridge - no

  27. J. G. Ballard – no— classmates in grad school whose taste I trusted loathed Crash, so I've never bothered

  28. Alan Garner - no

  29. Alasdair Gray – don’t even know the name

  30. John Fowles - The French Lieutenant’s Woman, The Collector, The Magus

  31. Derek Walcott – some of the poetry, but not much.

  32. Kazuo Ishiguro – I will always buy and make time for a new Ishiguro. I adore An Artist of the Floating World

  33. Anita Brookner – I don’t know her stuff

  34. A. S. Byatt – I quite like some-- Possession , especially--and was bored by others

  35. Ian McEwan – as variable as Byatt, but not quite reaching her heights

  36. Geoffrey Hill – He may be one of my favourite poets. I have been a different person since reading “Lacrimae Amantis”

  37. Hanif Kureishi – has been in the to-read pile for too long

  38. Iain Banks - no

  39. George Mackay Brown – haven’t even heard the name before

  40. A. J. P. Taylor - haven’t even heard the name before

  41. Isaiah Berlin – to-read

  42. J. K. Rowling – “One of these things is not like the other”. Yes, all 7, but man did she need an editor after the first

  43. Philip Pullman – I quite enjoy Pullman. His Dark Materials is brilliant, and The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is fun and thought-provoking

  44. Julian Barnes – mmm…. I enjoy Barnes. I do want to know to whom I loaned A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters and if s/he will return it.

  45. Colin Thubron - haven’t even heard the name before

  46. Bruce Chatwin – I’ve had Patagonia recommended to me more than once, but others have panned it. Inertia is a significant force in my life

  47. Alice Oswald - haven’t even heard the name before

  48. Benjamin Zephaniah - haven’t even heard the name before

  49. Rosemary Sutcliff – I read a lot as a child. Warrior Scarlet and Knight’s Fee were particular favourites

  50. Michael Moorcock - haven’t even heard the name before

I should look up the people I haven’t heard of.
And the Times needs to have the heads of its staff checked for omitting David Mitchell.
And I'm appalled at how poorly I did with having read the small number of women on this list.

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