[LMB] Significant Authors OT:

James and Mary Burbidge jamesandmary.burbidge at sympatico.ca
Sat, 16 Feb 2002 20:34:20 -0500


Casey Allison wrote:
> 
>    Must be the weekend, but list traffic seems to have
> slowed enough that perhaps it isn't tacky to begin a
> new OT, since I think this one has the potential to
> spark a good deal of debate. <G>
> 
>    Our public library just reopened after a major
> expansion and renovation (bless the voters for *not*
> shooting down the bond issue!). One of the things they
> did was to add a frieze on the outside of the
> building, which consists of the names of "significant
> authors." It's a striking and interesting design.
> 
>    I attended the grand opening, and though I tried to
> find out who had chosen the authors and/or what
> criteria guided the selections, I was unable to get
> that question answered. <shrug> I'll probably try
> again sometime. However....
> 
>    Here is a list of the authors. What say ye Listies
> regarding the selections?
> 
> Edward Abbey
> John Erikson
> Jane Austen
> A.A. Milne
> J.R.R.Tolkien
> John Steinbeck
> Dean Koontz
> Henry David Thoreau
> Larry McMurtry
> Paul Horgan
> Walt Whitman
> Louis L'Amour
> Willa Cather
> Shel Silverstein
> Stephen King
> Robert Frost
> Rudolfo Anaya
> Louisa May Alcott
> Tony Hillerman
> William Shakespeare
> Laura Ingalls Wilder
> Ernest Hemingway
> Mark Twain
> Edgar Allan Poe
> Dr. Seuss
> Emily Dickinson
> John Keats
> 

All English-speaking.  Heavily weighted towards Americans. Aside from
Shakespeare, nobody who wrote earlier than the Nineteenth Century. 
Interestingly enough, not _too_ heavily tilted towards prose: Frost,
Keats, Dickinson, Shakespeare, Seuss, and Whitman are all principally
poets, and Poe and Milne have significant verse works.

All of which leave out most of the figures _I'd_ consider significant
authors, beginning with Homer and (based on the C19 cutoff) running up
to and including Wordsworth and Coleridge (_Lyrical Ballads_ was 1798).

On any reasonable list (leaving aside the childrens' authors) Louis
L'Amour, Walt Whitman, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King (at least; there
are some authors whom I don't recognize and I don't have time to Google
for them right now; I assume they are C20 American authors) just don't
play in the same league as Milton, Fielding, Chaucer, Sidney, Johnson,
Pope, and many others, to say nothing of Virgil, Tasso, Dante,
Sophocles, Homer, Goethe, et al.

I think my overall assessment is "parochial", regardless of whether it
reflected a ballot of board members, circulation figures, or an attempt
to be "accessible".

-- 
James Burbidge			jamesandmary.burbidge at sympatico.ca