Saturday, January 5, 2008

Can never resist a list

I've never met a book list I could resist - this one of great British writers since 1945 from the Times courtesy of Pages Turned:

50 Greatest British writers since 1945
(with the authors I've read in red)
1. Philip Larkin
2. George Orwell
3. William Golding
4. Ted Hughes
5. Doris Lessing
6. J. R. R. Tolkien - no, but I saw the movie
7. V. S. Naipaul
8. Muriel Spark
9. Kingsley Amis
10. Angela Carter
11. C. S. Lewis
12. Iris Murdoch - one of my faves!
13. Salman Rushdie - I have tried
14. Ian Fleming
15. Jan Morris
16. Roald Dahl
17. Anthony Burgess - saw the movie
18. Mervyn Peake
19. Martin Amis
20. Anthony Powell - on my list
21. Alan Sillitoe
22. John Le Carré
23. Penelope Fitzgerald
24. Philippa Pearce
25. Barbara Pym
26. Beryl Bainbridge
27. J. G. Ballard
28. Alan Garner
29. Alasdair Gray
30. John Fowles
31. Derek Walcott
32. Kazuo Ishiguro
33. Anita Brookner
34. A. S. Byatt
35. Ian McEwan
36. Geoffrey Hill
37. Hanif Kureshi - seen some of his films
38. Iain Banks
39. George Mackay Brown
40. A. J. P. Taylor
41. Isaiah Berlin
42. J. K. Rowling
43. Philip Pullman
44. Julian Barnes
45. Colin Thubron - yes!
46. Bruce Chatwin
47. Alice Oswald
48. Benjamin Zephaniah
49. Rosemary Sutcliff
50. Michael Moorcock

Now come on, is J. K. Rowling really one of the greatest writers? I enjoyed the Potter books and they sold a lot of copies but greatest? Puh-lease. That aside, it looks like I have some reading to do.


Sam said...

I'm shocked to see J.K. Rowling's name on the list. If this were a list of best marketing techniques or "hype" surrounding an author I would not be surprised. But calling her one of the greatest writers since 1945 taints the whole list, IMO.

Eva said...

I've always meant to read Iris Murdoch (I loved the movie), but I'm not sure where to start. What would you recommend? (And don't get me started on Rowling *rolls eyes*)

Anne Camille said...

I was agreeing with this list until I got to Rowlings. Loud shots of NFW! were heard for miles.

Ted said...

Sam - I love your outrage! Even though I'm not as intense as you are about it (I do think there is some talent behind the machine), they lose me with the title greatest. I expect more.

Eva - Hmmm, The Black Prince, The Philosopher's Pupil, The Book and The Brotherhood, or The Green Knights would all be enjoyable places to start. (That really narrows it down, huh?)

Cam - It is a pretty comprehensive list otherwise, isn't it? I think I'd have sooner put du Maurier on the list than Rowlings, no?

Sheila O'Malley said...

The inclusion of Derek Walcott (and, I guess, VS Naipaul as well) reminds me of a great story about Jack Palance - who was informed by some Russian Film Society in Hollywood that they were going to give awards to some actors who were of Russian descent - and the key award was going to go to him (he was Ukrainian). Palance shows up at the awards show. Takes the stage to receive his award ... but rather than taking the award, says into the mike, "I must have come to the wrong awards event. Because I'm Ukrainian." And then walked out.

!!! A hugely political move ... and I love him for it. The Ukraine was CONQUERED by Russia, and the Ukraine had a disastrous famine imposed on them by Russia ... so to include a Ukrainian actor in their awards event was quite, uhm, ballsy.

Not that Walcott and Naipaul are not worthy (Naipaul's books about his travels in Muslim countries rank among my favorite books of all time) ... it's just that they both openly write about colonialism, and what it had done to the indigenous cultures.

Also: Rowling??? GIMME A BREAK.

Loved the Potter books but to put her on a list with ... AS Byatt and Ted Hughes is just stupid (in my opinion).

Eva said...

Thanks Ted! It narrows it down a bit at least. :)