I didn't much care for this book. It made me feel as though I wasn't smart enough to be a writer. It does contain some exercises, and it also contains a list of books Ms. Brown feels every writer should read, which I will be listing here in this thread. If you feel the need to read this book, I suggest you get it from your local library.
Last Edit: Mar 18, 2009 17:28:29 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
The dates below are dates of publication, or public showing in the case of plays. They do not correspond with the dates of authorship. 665-670
Caedmon, Caedmon's Hymn, recorded in the Venerable Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People. ca. 700
Anonymous, Beowulf. 700-800
Anonymous, The Rhyming Poem. 780-830
Cynewulf (attrib.), Andreas; Christ; Elene; The Fates of the Apostles; Juliana; Riddles 1-59, 30b, 60-95; The Dream of the Rood. Pick one of Cynewulf's works. 856-915
Anonymous, Judith. Begins the written tradition, as the influence of Cynewulf can be clearly seen in this poet's work.
Bede, Venerabilis. An Ecclesiastical History of the English People. 973
Anonymous, The Coronation of Edgar, in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The peot-monk's rhapsodizing on the fact that the apocalypse was only twenty-seven years away is entertaining, and more interesting than the story of Edgar's coronation. 975
Anonymous, The Death of Edgar, in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. ca. 800-1000
Anonymous, The Banished Wife's Complaint.
Anonymous, A Love Letter.
Anonymous, The Ruined City. ca. 1300
Anonymous, Piers Plowman. First extant copy dates from 1360, but it is mentioned before then. ca. 1350-1400
John Barbour, The Actes and Life of the Most Victorious Conqueror, Robert Bruce, King of Scotland. First extant copy, 1487.
GeoffreyChaucer, If you haven't read The Canterbury Tales, do. It's a delight. If you have, then pick another of Chaucer's work. ca. 1394-1395
Sir Thomas Clanvowe, The Cuckoo and the Nightingale. ca. 1400
"The Pearl Poet," Sir Gawaine and the Grene Knight. 1423
James I, King of Scotland, The Kingis Quair. 1470
Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur. 1481
Anonymous, Reynard the Fox. 1483
John Gower, Confessio Amantis.
Last Edit: Apr 14, 2005 21:41:32 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
John Skelton, A Replication Against Certain Young Scholars. The language is antiquated but the ideas are current. 1533
John Heywood, The Play of the Weather. 1545
John Skelton, Why Come Ye Not to Court? 1554
Sir Thomas More, Utopia (first edition in English, translated by Ralph Robinson). 1566
Nicholas Udall, Ralph Roister Doister. This will give you an idea of how humor was used, and it will also show you how different Shakespeare was from his contemporaries. The play smacks of the schoolroom. 1581
Barnabe Rich, His Farewell to the Militarie Profession. 1583
Robert Greene, Mamillia, A Mirrour o Looking-Glasse for the Ladies of England. 1590
Robert Green, Greenes Never Too Late.
Christopher Marlowe, Tamburlaine the Great, Divided into Two Tragical Discourses. 1591
Thomas Lodge, A Margarite of America.
Sir Philip Sidney, Astrophel and Stella.
Edmund Spenser, Complaints, Containing Sundry Small Poems of the World's Vanity. 1593
William Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis. 1594
First production of Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors. You should buy a Complete Works of Shakespeare and read it in chronological order. There's no way around this, and in addition, once you get the hang of the language you will be swept into its beauty.
Christopher Marlowe, Edward the Second. 1596
Michael Drayton, The Tragical Legend of Robert, Duke of Normandy; The Legend of Matilda; The Legend of Piers Gaveston. 1598
John Dickenson, Greene in Conceipt: New Raised from His Grave to the Tragique Historie of the Fair Valeria of London.
John Marston, The Metamorphosis of Pigmalions Image, and Certaine Satyres, and The Scourge of Villainy: Three Books of Satyres. 1600
Ben Jonson, Every Man Out of His Humour. See also Complete Poems, edited by Ian Donaldson, 1975.
Thomas Nashe, Summer's Last Will and Testament. 1601
Ben Jonson, Every Man in His Humour. 1603
Thomas Dekker, The Wonderful Yeare, Wherein Is Shown the Picture of London Lying Sick of the Plague. 1604
Christopher Marlowe, The Tragicall History of D. Faustus.
Thomas Middleton (with Thomas Dekker), The Honest Whore. 1606
John Marston, The Wonder of Women, or The Tragedy of Sophonisba.
Last Edit: Apr 14, 2005 22:01:40 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
George Peele, The Merrie Conceited Jests of George Peele. 1608
François de Belleforest, The History of Hamblet.
Thomas Middleton, A Mad World, My Masters. 1609
Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Disposed into Twelve Books, Fashioning XII Moral Virtues, with Mutability Cantos. The Faerie Queene was originally published 1590-96, without the Mutability Cantos. 1611
John Donne, An Anatomy of the World. 1612
Ben Jonson, The Alchemist. 1613
Francis Beaumont, The Knight of the Burning Pestle. 1620
Thomas Middleton, and William Rowley, The World Tost at Tennis. 1633
John Donne, Poems.
Christopher Marlowe, The Famous Tragedy of the Rich Jew of Malta. 1641
John Day, The Parliament of Bees, with Their Proper Characters. 1650
Anne Bradstreet, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America. Anne Bradstreet strikes a blow for women writers. 1653
Izaak Walton, The Compleat Angler. A gentle, enjoyable book even if you don't like fishing. 1656
Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, Nature's Pictures Drawn by Fancies Pencil to the Life. The Duchess of Newcastle fancies too much. 1658
Sidney Godolphin, The Passion of Dido for Aeneas. "Sidney Godolphin is an almost perfect example of a truly minor poet . . . of the nearly 1,000 lines of his original verse, not one is memorably bad; nor is there a single line that is memorably good"--Thomas Wheeler. (Couldn't resist.) 1667
John Milton, Paradise Lost. I don't like Milton, even as I recognize his exalted gift for poetry. Still, he must be read and he must be mastered. 1669
John Dryden, Tyrannic Love, or The Royal Martyr. 1671
Bryce Blair, The Vision of Theodorus Verax. This gives you a sense of Milton's contemporaries.
John Milton, Paradise Regained, to Which Is Added Samson Agonistes. 1673
John Dryden, Marriage A-la-Mode.
William Wycherley, The Gentleman Dancing-Master. Wycherley is working out the "new" comedy of manners for English speakers. 1675
William Wycherley, The Country Wife.
Last Edit: Apr 14, 2005 22:23:15 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come.
John Dryden, All for Love, or The World Well Lost, and MacFlecknoe. 1679
Andrew Marvell, Advice to a Painter. See also Marvell's Complete Poems, edited by Elizabeth Story Donno, 1972. 1680
Thomas D'Urfey, TheVirtuous Wife, or Good Luck at Last. 1684
Aphra Behn, The Adventures of the Black Lady. 1686
Aphra Behn, The Lover's Watch. 1688
Richard Blackbourn, Wit in a Woman. 1689
Nathaniel Lee, The Princess of Cleve. 1692
William Congreve, Incognita, or Love and Duty Reconciled. Congreve takes on Wycherley, in a sense. He is good and he's going to get better. 1693
William Congreve, The Old Bachelor. 1695
William Congreve, Love for Love. 1697
William Congreve, The Mourning Bride. 1698
John Crowne, Calisto. I threw this in by way of contrast. Crowne is not especially gifted but he's trying. 1699
William King, Dialogues of the Dead. 1700
William Congreve, The Way of the World. You can't get much better than this. Restoration drama in its exalted state. 1701
Nicholas Rowe, Tamerlane. Precedes Arnold Schwartzenegger by 286 years! Rowe would have made him Tamerlane. 1704
Jonathan Swift, A Tale of a Tub, Written for the Universal Improvement of Mankind, to Which Is Added an Account of a Battle Between the Ancient and Modern Books in St. James's Library. The first appearance of this satiric genius. 1707
George Farquhar, The Beaux' Stratagem. Farquhar lacks Congreve's and Sheridan's natural talent but he works hard; he pays attention to structure although this may be difficult for a modern reader to realize. This is a very fine piece of work. 1708
Ebenezer Cooke, The Sot-Weed Factor, or A Voyage to Maryland. 1709
Susanna Centlivre, The Busie Body, A Comedy. Susanna makes a stab at it. 1714
Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock. Divine artifice. Even if an author could achieve this in our time, our public is not sophisticated enough to enjoy it. (I hope I'm wrong.)
Last Edit: Apr 16, 2005 19:24:24 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
Susanna Centliver, The Gotham Election. Never acted, due to censorship. Susanna has not given up, but she's in trouble. 1719
Daniel Defoe, The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner. Here's a "newspaperman" turned author. 1726
Jonathan Swift, Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, by Captain Lemuel Gulliver. What can I say that has not already been said? Swift is savage and very secure in his style. 1734
Jonathan Swift, A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed. 1737
Elizabeth Boyd, The Happy Unfortunate; or The Female Page. An old theme. 1739
Jonathan Swift, Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift. Swift's mind is beginning to go. 1740
Samuel Richardson, Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded. You can argue about whether or not this is the first true novel. I think the Satyricon is the first real novel in Western literature and I know I'll get an argument there. But sticking to English, this has importance and we all need to read it at least once. 1743
John Gay, The Distress'd Wife. 1747
Thomas Gray, Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College. Early Gray. 1749
Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling.
Samuel Johnson, The Vanity of Human Wishes: The Tenth Satire of Juvenal Imitated. 1751
Thomas Gray, An Elegy Wrote in a County Church Yard. Gray in best voice. 1756
Christopher Smart, On the Goodness of the Supreme Being. "Confinement in the madhouse allowed Smart to escape some of the restrictions of demand and tradition, and create the distinctive religious verse which is his main achievement"---Marcus Walsh. 1757
Thomas Gray, Odes. 1762
James Macpherson, Fingal: An Ancient Epic, with Several Other Poems Translated from the Gaelic Language. Macpherson's claim that these poems are the work of an ancient Gaelic Makar named Ossian is fantasy. They are his own work.
Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaves. 1766
Oliver Goldsmitth, The Vicar of Wakefield. Another giant steps on the scene. 1768
Oliver Goldsmith, The Good Natur'd Man.
Thomas Gray, Poems.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Poetical Works. 1769
Tobias Smollett, The History and Adventures of an Atom.
Last Edit: Apr 16, 2005 19:42:55 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
Phyllis Wheatley, An Elegiac Poem on the Death of the Celebrated Divine Georg Whitfield. 1773
Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer, or The Mistakes of a Night. Sheer, audacious fun! 1775
Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Duenna (music by Thomas Linley). A respectable beginning for another magical writer. 1777
William Combe, The Diaboliad. A Poem. Dedicated to the Worst Man in His Majesty's Dominions, Vol. 1. The concept is bettre than the execution. 1780
Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The School for Scandal. How lucky were our forebears that they lived at the same time as Goldsmith and Sheridan. Our theater, today, doesn't even come close. 1781
Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Critic, or A Tragedy Rehearsed. 1785
James Boswell, The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson. Welcome to modern biography, the first bud. 1789
William Blake, Songs of Innocence. 1791
James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, 2 Vols. The full bloom. 1796
Joel Barlow, The Hasty Pudding.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Poems on Various Subjects.
Thomas Morton, The Way to Get Married. It isn't great literature but it's interesting to note that this subject is still addressed today. 1798
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and William Wordsworth, Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems.
William Cowper, Poems: On the Receipt of My Mother's Picture; The Dog and Waterlily. 1810
Marjorie Fleming. A child poet writing 1810-1811. A literary curiosity worth looking into. Accessible in various collections and referred to sporadically by Victorian writers. Her Complete Works is available at most closed-stack research libraries.
Sir Walter Scott, The Lady of the Lake. This man eventually became an industry. The story line of each of his novels is strong. The tone is unabashed romanticism. 1813
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice. 1814
Fanny Burney, The Wanderer, or Female Difficulties. 1816
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Christabel; Kubla Khan: A Vision; The Poems of Sleep.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Alastor, or The Spirit of Solitude, and Other Poems. It's interesting to contrast Keats with Shelley. I'll let you make your own judgment. 1817
John Keats, Poems.
Sir Walter Scott, Rob Roy.
Last Edit: Jul 20, 2005 18:39:26 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. See also Love and Friendship, edited by G. K. Chesterton, 1922; The Watsons, edited by A. B. Walkley, 1923; Lady Susan, edited by Q. D. Davis, 1958.
Hannah More, Stories for the Middle Ranks of Society and Tales for the Common People.
Sir Walter Scott, The Heart of Midlothian.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. 1819
Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe: A Romance. 1820
Washington Irving, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., 2 Vols. The first American author to attain international fame. He is much better than we give him credit for being. Literature has fashions and right now Irving is out of fashion.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound: A Lyrical Drama with Other Poems. 1821
James Fenimore Cooper, The Spy.
Sir Walter Scott, Kenilworth: A Romance. 1824
Washington Irving, Tales of a Traveller. Irving is getting better.
Walter Savage Landor, Imaginary Conversations of Literary Men and Statesmen, 5 Vols. I find this work rewarding to read. 1825
Sarah Kemble Knight, The Journal of Sarah Kemble Knight. Sarah learned the secrets of self-advertisement. 1826
James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans. His dark vision, alllmost devoid of women, remains intact. It would have been impossible for a European to write this novel. 1827
Edgar Allan Poe, Tamerlane and Other Poems. 1831
James Fenimore Cooper, The Water Witch. It's a good idea to read one of his novels that isn't his best. Gives us all hope.
Edgar Allan Poe, Poems. 1832
Washington Irving, The Alhambra. I think this is an underrated book. It's travel writing of the highest order. 1837
Charles Dickens, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Even from the first, Dickens was different.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Twice-Told Tales[/i[. 1838
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, The Seraphim and Other Poems. 1840
James Fenimore Cooper, The Pathfinder. Pure Cooper. Pure homoerotic myth-making, I think!
Edgar Allan Poe, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. 1841
James Fenimore Cooper, The Deerslayer. Even better than The Pathfinder.
Edgar Allan Poe, The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Man That Was Used Up. Poe was clever, original and completely misunderstood.
Last Edit: Jul 20, 2005 18:59:56 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
Edgar Allan Poe, Tales and The Raven and Other Poems. 1847
Anne Brontë, Agnes Grey.
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre: An Autobiography. See how background and family impose upon literature.
Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights. See also her Complete Poems, edited by C. W. Hatfield, 1941. 1848
James Russell Lowell, A Fable for Critics. A "civilized" voice for the Northeast.
William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair: A Novel Without a Hero. Not true. The hero was the author. 1849
Robert Browning, Poems, 2 Vols.
James Russell Lowell, Poems, 2 Vols. 1850
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam. Tennyson's voice is elegant. If you've been reading your poetry, you will "hear" the difference instantly. 1851
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables and The Snow Image and Other Twice-Told Tales.
Herman Melville, Moby Dick; Or The White Whale. More homoerotic, desperate literature. There is a doom-ridden quality to Melville and Cooper that astonishes me.
George Meredith, Poems. Technically, Meredith is superb, but I still find him boring. 1852
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly. You have to read it to grasp how bad it really is and to wonder at its tremendous political impact. 1853
Walter Savage Landor, Imaginary Conversations of Greeks and Romans. More joy. 1854
George Washington Harris, Sut Lovingood's Yarns and Hig Times and Hard Times. Serialized, beginning November 4, 1854, in Spirit of the Times magazine; first published in 1966-1967, 2 vols., with M. Thomas Inge as editor. Harris gets "cute" but it's a minor school of writing still in vogue today, usually among columnists and magazine writers. The style is updated, obviously, but you will recognize the tone and possibly be nauseasted.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or Life in the Woods. Overrated and overindulged. One has to read him to try to grasp the phenomenon, particularly as it affected Americans in the late 1960's. 1855
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Story of Hiawatha. He's better than you think.
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass. 1857
Herman Melville, The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade. You should read a novel that wasn't a big success. Each of us needs to be reminded that famous, dead writers struggled as much as we struggle. 1858
Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Autocrat of Breakfast Table.
Last Edit: Jul 20, 2005 19:24:24 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
George Meredith, Modern Love. Extremely interesting, especially when compared to his other poems. 1865
Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. 1866
Christina Rossetti, The Prince's Progress and Other Poems.
Algernon Charles Swinburne, Poems and Ballads. 1867
Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain, The Celebrated Jumping Fron of Calaveras County and Other Sketches.
Ouida (pseudonym for Marie Louise de la Rámee), Under Two Flags. A wonderful example of a "popular" novel. 1868
Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, Vol. 1. True Americana.
Walt Whitman, Poems. 1869
Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, Vol. 2. More of the same.
Samuel L. Clemens, The Innocents Abroad. Conceptually, this was a big jump (forgive the pun) from The Celebrated Frog....
Henry Kendall, Leaves from Australian Forest. At last, something about Australia. 1870
Edward Lear, Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany, and Alphabets.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Poems. 1872
Samuel Butler, Erewhon, or Over the Range. There are other Butlers, but this clearly demonstrates his themes.
George Eliot, Middlemarch: A Study of Provinicial Life. This was a trial to read in eleventh grade but from a technical viewpoint it is a successful novel. 1873
Ambrose Bierce, Nuggets and Dust Panned Out in California. If you get "hooked" on him, you'll read everything he wrote. 1874
Thomas Hardy, Far from the Maddening Crowd. 1875
William Cullen Bryant, Poems, 3 Vols. 1876
Samuel L. Clemens, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Henry Wheeler Shaw, Josh Billings, His Works Complete. 1877
Sidney Lanier, Poems. 1878
W. S. Gilbert, H.M.S. Pinaforep (music by Arthur Sullivan). How did Gilbert learn to be Gilbert? Where is he now that we need him? Don't mistake him for just a lyricist. 1879
W. S. Gilbert, The Pirates of Penzance (mucic by Arthur Sullivan).
Bret Harte, An Heiress of Red Dog and Other Sketches.
George Meredith, The Egoist. The concern of "Modern Love" is now disquised as a novel which is almost a comedy of manners. I believe it is the same idea from a new angle. Meredith appeals to intellectuals. In my mind, T. S. Eliot picks up where Meredith left off. 1881
Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings. Still remarkable, although you must steel yourself for the "cute" racism.
Oscar Wilde, Poems.
Last Edit: Aug 15, 2005 16:28:06 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
George Washington Cable, The Cavalier. Cable was much admired in his day. He filled the shelves of book stores.
Frank Norris, The Octopus. This floored people. 1903
Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh.
George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman: A Comedy (and a Philosophy). 1904
O. Henry (pseudonym of William Sydney Porter), Cabbages and Kings. Fantastic command over the short-story form. 1905
Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth. This is a sharp, new American voice. In my mind she is the counterpoint to Dreiser. 1906
Upton Sinclair, The Jungle. What did he learn from Frank Norris? Do you think there is a connection? 1907
J. M. Synge, The Playboy of the Western World. 1908
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows. Utter happiness/silliness. 1909
Samuel L. Clemens, Extracts from Captain Stormfield's Vist to Heaven.
Gertrude Stein, Three Lives: Stories of the Good Anna, Melanctha, and The Gentle Lena. She is rough going but her experiments with language helped her generation of writers break from the adjective-heavy style then so popular. If Hemingway had not found Stein, he would not have become Hemingway. 1910
Saki (pseudonym of H. H. Munro), Reginald in Russia and Other Sketches.
William Butler Yeats, The Green Helmet and Other Poems. He is to poetry as Cezanne is to painting. 1911
Max Beerbohm, Zuleika Dobson, or An Oxford Love Story.
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden.
Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome. Remember reading this in high school? Bet it looks different now. 1912
Zane Grey, Riders of the Purple Sage. These cowboy stories were gobbled up by little boys in America and also in Germany. 1913
D. H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers. More interesting than Lady Chatterley's Lover.
Vachel Lindsay, General William Booth Enters into Heaven and Other Poems. 1914
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes. Another one of those boys' books which affected so many people.
Booth Tarkington, Penrod. Tarkinton, for a time, was a beloved American writer. Read this and see if you can figure out why he is out of favor. Almost forgotten.
Last Edit: Aug 15, 2005 17:36:30 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology (revised and expanded in 1916). This is a deceptive work. 1916
Samuel L. Clemens, The Mysterious Stranger.
George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion; Overruled; and Androcles and the Lion. 1917
Clemence Dane, Regiment of Women. She was very celebrated in her time.
Siegfried Sassoon, To Any Dead Officer. He is not a great or perhaps even good writer by literary standards, but he is effective and his reserve is probably what cost him greatness, for the talent is there. Also, he did not devote himself to the craft. 1918
Gerard Manley Hopkins (d. 1889), Poems, edited by Robert Bridges.
Booth Tarkington, The Magnificent Ambersons. This book should not be in the literary doldrums. 1919
P. G. Wodehouse, My Man Jeeves. The beginning of an industry much more appreciated by the British than by Americans. 1920
Dame Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Doyle's spiritual "daughter" begins to weave her web.
Wilfred Owen (d. 1918), Poems, edited by Siegfried Sassoon. See also Collected Poems, edited by C. Day Lewis.
Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence. A devastating book--and it fools you. She has become so sure of herself she doesn't have to show off. 1921
Clemence Dane, Will Shakespeare: An Invention in Four Acts. What do you think is going on here? Is this clever or is there something else? 1922
T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land. The post-World War I world found a voice.
John Galsworthy. The Forsyte Saga.
James Joyce, Ulysses. Where would university professors be without Ulysses? By this time, this work has become a parody of itself and it is the fawning of university English teachers that has ruined it. What a pity.
Katherine Mansfield, The Garden Party and Other Stories. 1923
Edna St. Vincent Millay, Poems. A crystal clear, unyielding voice. 1924
Emily Dickinson (d. 1886), The Complete Poems, edited by Martha Dickinson Bianchi.
Edna Ferber, So Big. Her sense of story is sure. You may or may not find her "dated." She enjoyed stuendous success in her lifetime.
George Bernard Shaw, Saint Joan. 1925
Noel Coward, The Vortex. Daring at the time. Coward's subject was VD.
Countee Cullen, Color.
Hilda Doolittle (H.D.), Collected Poems.
Theodore Dreiser, An American Tragedy.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.
Robinson Jeffers, Roan Stallion, Tamar, and Other Poems.
Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises. I never tire of this novel.
Sean O'Casey, The Plough and the Stars.
Sir Sacheverell Sitwell, All Summer in a Day: An Autobiographical Fantasia. You may hate it or love it. This is what happens when a writer is "superior" to his audience. Very different from his sister, Edith. 1927
Rosamond Lehmann, Dusty Answer.
Jean Rhys, The Left Bank and Other Stories.
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey.
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse. 1928
J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up.
Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness. Historically important as regards women. Stylistically absurd.
D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover. Another historically important work of questionable literary value. As time passes the cracks in the plaster widen, and Lawrence fanatics will blow a fuse when they read this assessment.
Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography. I beleive this is her greatest work. I know I'll get lots of arguments but that's why Woolf is special. She involves you in her work in a personal way. 1929
Djuna Barnes, A Night Among the Horses.
Dashiell Hammett, The Dain Curse.
Edmund Wilson, I Thought of Daisy.
Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward Angel: A Story of the Buried Life. 1930
Dorothy Canfield (later Fisher), The Deepening Stream. She was very popular.
Noel Coward, Private Lives. Bliss. Pure bliss.
W. Somerset Maugham, Cakes and Ale. His is a "distant" style. Very readable. He is tricky but you don't know you are being tricked--or maybe it's just me.
Carl Van Vechten, Parties: Scenes from Contemporary New York Life. 1931
Elizabeth Bowen, Friends and Relations.
Kay Boyle, Plagued by the Nightingale.
Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth. Another writer in eclipse.
Gertrude Stein, How to Write. Dare we try after reading this? 1932
Erskine Caldwell, Tobacco Road. Certain Southerners were very upset with Caldwell. He didn't flinch.
William Faulkner, Light in August. Another Southerner despised, in the beginning, by his own people. He didn't give up either.
Zelda Fitzgerald, Save Me the Waltz.
Rosamond Lehmann, Invitation to the Waltz.
James Thurber, The Seal in the Bedroom and Other Predicaments.
Last Edit: Aug 16, 2005 15:17:21 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
Eudora Welty, A Curtain of Green and Other Stories. People in Jackson, Mississipi, did and still do speak to Ms. Welty. On the surface she is gentle, but her themes are not slight. Her voice, while very Southern, is quite different from the other celebrated Southern authors of this time. 1942
Sir Rabindranath Tagore (d. 1941), Poems, edited by Krishna Kripalani.
Thornton Wilder, The Skin of Our Teeth. 1943
Edna St. Vincent Millay, Collected Lyrics.
Delmore Schwartz, Genesis: Book One. Most definitely not a Southern voice. 1944
S. J. Perelman and Ogden Nash (music by Kurt Weill), One Touch of Venus.
Sir Osbert Sitwell, Left Hand! Right Hand! The Sitwell siblings strike again. 1945
Walter de la Mare, The Burning Glass and Other Poems.
Nancy Mitford, The Pursuit of Love. I still don't think the English have recovered from the Mitford sisters.
George Orwell (pseudonym for Eric Arthur Blair), Animal Farm: A Fairy Story.
Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie.
Richard Wright, Black Boy. 1946
Christopher Isherwood, The Berlin Stories.
Carson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding.
Terence Rattigan, The Winslow Boy.
Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men
Frank Yerby, The Foxes of Harrow. He was a popular novelist. 1947
Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano.
Sean O'Faolain, Teresa.
S. J. Perelman, The Best of Perelman.
Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire. 1948
Hortense Calisher, In the Absence of Angels.
Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms. Like a comet, this beautiful talen reduced himself to dust.
Ezra Pound, Cantos. There is nothing easy about Ezra Pound, but you can't afford to ignore his work.
James Thurber, The Beast in Me and Other Animals.
Gore Vidal, The City and the Pillar. This was a concern, a style, left behind by Vidal. 1949
Truman Capote, A Tree of Night and Other Stories.
Christopher Fry, The Lady's Not for Burning.
Last Edit: Aug 17, 2005 15:17:49 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
Carl Sandburg, Complete Poems. He styled himself a poet of the people.
Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Family Moskat.
Tennessee Williams, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone.
William Butler Yeats (d. 1939), Collected Poems. 1951
Langston Hughes, Mortage of a Dream Deferred.
J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye. Will this stand the test of time? We won't know. 1952
Ralph Ellison, The Invisible Man.
Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea.
Mary McCarthy, The Groves of Academe. She doesn't write with a pen. She uses a scalpel! Here is a writer with terrific control--what does that do to the material? 1953
James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain.
Arthur Miller, The Crucible.
Ogden Nash, The Private Dining Room and Other New Verses.
Mary Renault (pseudonym for Mary Challans), The Charioteer. She has a huge cult following. Think about the material. In another writer's hands this novel would have died. As it is, the tone of the book is a problem, at least, for me. 1954
William Golding, Lord of the Flies.
Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood: A Play for Voices. You've probably read this. 1955
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita. Another non-native writer who wrote in English. He is important to study for his use of our language and for his themes. Would an American have selected this? What about an English writer? If they had, imagine how they would have presented the story. Why was/is he so celebrated? Does Cold War politics have anything to do with it?
Sir Terence Rattigan, Separate Tables (two plays).
Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. 1956
James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room.
Brendan Behan, The Quare Fellow.
Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems.
Eugene O'Neill, Long Day's Journey into Night. 1957
Stanley Kunitz, Selected Poems, 1928-1958.
John Osborne, Look Back in Anger. 1958
Archibald MacLeish, J.B.: A Play in Verse. Much admired at that time.
C. P. Snow, The Conscience of the Rich.
Tennessee Williams, Garden District: Something Unspoken and Suddenly Last Summer. 1959
John Ciardi, 39 Poems.
Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun.
Grace Paley, The Little Disturbances of Man.
Muriel Spark, Memento Mori. Quite a wicked little book, displaying Spark's distinctive characteristics as a writer.
Harold Pinter, The Birthday Party and Other Plays.
Sylvia Plath, The Colossus and Other Poems.
Anne Sexton, To Bedlam and Part Way Back.
Gary Snyder, Myths and Texts. 1961
Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. You probably know this one. 1962
Edward Albee, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Caused a sensation when first produced. Would it today?
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook. She has passionate admirers. Your reaction to her work ought to tell you something about the kind of books you want to write. 1963
Hortense Calisher, Extreme Magic: A Novella and Other Stories. 1964
James Dickey, Two Poems of the Air.
Denise Levertov, O Taste and See: New Poems.
Robert Lowell, For the Union Dead. This harks back to another Lowell. 1965
May Sarton, Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing. 1966
Truman Capote, In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences. A twist: nonfiction treated almost like fiction. You're on dangerous ground here. After Capote this "form" took off. The form makes me uneasy. I feel that it is intrinsically dishonest.
Barnard Malamud, The Fixer. 1967
Marianne Moore, The Complete Poems.
Joyce Carol Oates, A Garden of Earthly Delights.
Joe Orton, Crimes of Passion: The Ruffian on the Stair, and The Erpingham Camp. Why did this kind of drama come forth in England? Something happened there after World War II.
Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Gilbert used Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in 1892. What's the pull of these two Shakespearean characters?
William Styron, The Confessions of Nat Turner.
Thornton Wilder, The Eighth Day. This is an interesting "failure." 1968
Gore Vidal, Myra Breckinridge. 1969
John Berryman, Dream Songs.
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five, or, The Children's Crusade. 1970
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Maya is still singing, thank God.
Cynthia Ozick, The Pagan Rabbi and Other Stories. 1972
Barbara Deming, Wash Us and Comb Us. This is a personal book, essays disguised as memoirs. Pay attention to her style.
James Merrill, Braving the Elements. A style 180 degrees from Deming---yet, how are these writers similar? 1973
Adrienne Rich, Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1970-1972.
Gore Vidal, Burr. Gore Vidal uses history as a mirror for the political life in the 1970's. Even if you don't "get" it, the book reads well as a story about Burr. This has Vidal's trademark: superb structure, suspicion/fear of emotion. Also, this is a good example of a book in which something is withheld from you until the end without its being a trick. It relates to the emotional blindness/innocence of the main character. 1975
Seamus Heaney, Bog Poems.
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Heat and Dust. 1976
W. H. Auden, Collected Poems. 1980
Margaret Drabble, The Middle Ground. 1981
Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers.
Please excuse the lacunae from 1981 until today. I am weary. I've read many recently published novels, but with the exception of The Color Purple by Alice Walker, I'm drawing a blank. Of course, right now there is an avalanche of books being published and I know I've missed some fine ones. The closer one gets to one's own time the harder it is to see clearly.
For a copy of the complete reading list, send a check (no cash, please) for ten dollars made out to Speakeasy, Inc., to:
Speakeasy, Inc. P.O. Box 4671 Charlottesville, VA 22905
This covers the cost of printing, paper, and first-class mailing.
I bought this book ages ago, (Copyright 1988), so I don't know if the price has gone up or if she still does this. This page on her website has a different business name, but the same address:
Rita Mae Brown c/o American Artists, Inc. P.O. Box 4671 Charlottesville, VA 22905