Monday, May 13, 2013

Seven years ago when I retired from teaching I resolved to attempt some major reading of authors I hadn't had time to address when I was working. So I tackled the major works of Aristotle, finally finished Dante's Divine Comedy, and fought may way through Montaigne's Essays. Then I thought: why must I turn into a reading machine? I want to read for pleasure as well as instruction. Now a Facebook acquaintance, the Australian Andrew Rutherford, has devised a way of testing this commitment. Take 15 minutes to write down 15 authors that are most important to you (disregarding such universal favorites as Plato and Shakespeare). I did this, and I was surprised to see how dominated it was with counterculture favorites starting, more less, with Verlaine and Rimbaud and concluding with Ginsberg and Kerouac. Once a rebel, always a rebel, I suppose.

Now for the full set of 15.  In looking over my list, I notice that there are no living authors. Apparently I am not keeping up with the times. But in my view it is hard to compete with the truly charismatic works that have come down to us from the past. 

Anyway, here is the full list: Daodejing (ascribed to Laotse), Rabelais, Blake, Leopardi, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Wilde, Pessoa, Pound, Dos Passos, Céline, Stein, Bulgakov, Ginsberg, Kerouac. 

 Of course I have evolved over the years. At one time John Donne meant a lot to me; but I tried him again the other day and, except for a few famous pieces, I just couldn't get back into it. And of course new (or semi-new) figures are looming on the horizon.


Blogger Stephen said...

There's no accounting for taste. I find Montaigne more pleasurable reading than Kerouac's dribblings.

12:01 PM  

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