The Literary 100

Overview

Author Daniel Burt has compiled a compelling assessment of the 100 most influential novelists, playwrights, and poets throughout history. From Shakespeare and Dante to Zeami Motokiyo and Oscar Wilde, the entries provide a fascinating introduction to major writers of world literature. Arranged in order of the author's ranking, all of the writers chosen have helped to redefine literature, establishing a standard with which succeeding generations of writers and readers have had to contend. The ranking attempts to ...
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Overview

Author Daniel Burt has compiled a compelling assessment of the 100 most influential novelists, playwrights, and poets throughout history. From Shakespeare and Dante to Zeami Motokiyo and Oscar Wilde, the entries provide a fascinating introduction to major writers of world literature. Arranged in order of the author's ranking, all of the writers chosen have helped to redefine literature, establishing a standard with which succeeding generations of writers and readers have had to contend. The ranking attempts to discern, from the broadest possible perspective, what makes a literary artist great and how that greatness can be measured and compared. Among the chosen 100 writers are: Homer, Emily Dickinson, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, T. S. Eliot, Jane Austen, Gabriel García Márquez, Herman Melville, Vladimir Nabokov, John Keats and Virginia Woolf.

Daniel S. holds a Ph.D. from New York University and has taught literature at Wesleyan University since 1989. He has also taught English at New York University and worked as a freelance editor. He resides in Middletown, CT.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA
Which authors have had the greatest influence over time on how the world is perceived through literature? This admittedly idiosyncratic ranking of the top one hundred novelists, playwrights, and poets makes for a fascinating dip through history and across cultures in a reference work that manages to be both concise and filled with enticing personal tidbits of information. Starting with Shakespeare and continuing through Oscar Wilde, each two- to three-page entry gives standard biographical material supplemented with quotes and conjecture about how the writer's times influenced his or her literary output. Primarily male-dominated—no surprise there—the list includes many recognizable names but also several new ones. Murasaki Shikibu, Tu Fu, Cao Xueqin, Rabindranath Tagore, and Tanizaki Jun'Ichiro are not names that come readily to the minds of most American students and teachers, but their inclusion is in keeping with Burt's emphasis on providing readers with a look at literature comparatively across cultural and historical divisions. Perhaps more intriguing than the top one hundred list are the honorable mentions, one hundred writers who did not make Burt's first cut. Birth and death dates along with a one- or two-sentence annotation accompany each entry and extend the original list into the twenty-first century. English teachers will find this source extremely helpful in providing students with a better grasp of international authors. Students will enjoy the anecdotes and even might be moved to create their own lists. Index. Illus. Photos. Biblio. 2001, Facts on File, 400p. PLB $45. Ages 16 to Adult. Reviewer: Cindy Lombardo SOURCE: VOYA, August 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 3)
Library Journal

In this revision of the 2001 edition, veteran professor Burt (The Drama 100) has expanded the list of the top 100 literary figures to incorporate an additional 25, including Robert Frost, Toni Morrison, George Orwell, Sappho, and Arthur Miller. The entire ranking system has been reconsidered, and Burt acknowledges the subjectivity of this process and inevitable dissent in his preface. With definitive worth applied to Eastern and Western literary icons, the ranking equals a debate-spurring thesis, while engaging profiles are an essential literary primer.


—Savannah Schroll Guz
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—In an attempt to look at literature as a whole, and to cover all cultures over all time, Burt takes on the formidable task of choosing the world's literary greats. The self-admittedly mistitled volume actually ranks 125 writers, deviating from the previous edition (2001) in its addition of 25 figures and some renumbering. William Shakespeare retains his number one position for his level of language, believable characters, and reflection of the human condition. Universal impact and understanding also keep Leo Tolstoy, Homer, Geoffrey Chaucer, and Charles Dickens among the top ten. Additions include Chinua Achebe, Seamus Heaney, Li Po, Toni Morrison, Chikamatsu Monzaemon, Luigi Pirandello, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Sappho. Approximately three pages in length, each essay looks at the big picture of a writer's influence and the unique qualities of the author's creations. For example, Burt discusses Walt Whitman's inclusion of common life and sexuality as subjects in his poems. Entries are prefaced by a small black-and-white portrait captioned with a quote about the author, and occasionally feature lines of verse, excerpts from letters, or author commentary. A select bibliography follows a listing of an additional 100 "Honorable Mentions," identified only by their country of origin, genre, and major works. The volume includes an author/title index but no listing of authors by nationality, a feature sometimes needed by students. Sure to spark lively classroom debates about why one writer outranks another.—Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
Booknews
In line with the current worship of global competitiveness, which insists that everyone must be better than someone and worse than someone, Burt (literature, Wesleyan U.) ranks and profiles 100 writers whose work scholars deem has fundamentally established or changed how readers see the world. He also lists alphabetically another 100 who nearly made the cut. A chronology would have been nice. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816062683
  • Publisher: Facts on File, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/1/2008
  • Series: The Literature 100 Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 794,587
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

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