In this blog I'll give my personal opinion on who I find to be the best authors, whose work I've read so far. This is, of course, just my thoughts and if you disagree, then that's fine. We all have our tastes and enjoy different things. I won't be just using novel/book authors for this list, either. Comic book writers are perfectly fair game as well. I'll also try to bring some lesser known writers to light.
- C.S. Lewis
- George R.R. Martin
- J.K. Rowling
- Mark Twain
- William Shakespear
- Agatha Christie
- Jack Kirby
- Stan Lee
- Gail Simone
- Tom King
10. Jane Austen
The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.
-- Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
Jane Austen was initially underestimated and undermined as an author. Her work went from obscure, to mildly famous to some of the most quotable and referenced works today. She wrote a total of six complete novels which touch upon society, status and morality. Of course her most well known books are probably Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. This isn't a surprise given their commentary of society, well-presented love stories and realistic characters. My personal favourite was Northanger Abbey, due to Austen's sense of humour coming to full fruition here. I also particularly like this novel due to the theme of how reading is important for a person to develop, grow and learn.
9. Victor Hugo
"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent."
-- Victor Hugo
Hugo was a man of the arts, as well as a man of politics. His novels, of course, carry a political undertone, social commentary and an expressed love for song, dance, drawing, painting, etc. While in his youth he was a conservative and devote Catholic, Victor later fought for the ideas of liberalism and when asked about his religious affiliation he simply said that he's a "Freethinker". While I don't agree with some of his political views, particularly with regards to Africa and France colonisations, his work is still stunning to me.
8. Dante Alighieri
"There, pride, avarice, and envy are the tongues men know and heed, a Babel of depsair"
-- Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri
Three things I really enjoy when reading: social commentary, abstract concepts and mythological references. Given all of that, it's obviously no surprise that Dante makes this list. The entire Divine Comedy is an allegory for many complex topics. The poem's composition is also very complex. While there's a lot of interpretation, many would agree Dante is criticizing his society and the Church as he tries to organise his beliefs. Dante grasps with higher concepts like the afterlife and defines three different major levels of it: Inferno(Hell), Purgatorio(Purgatory) and Paradiso(Heaven). These three levels also carry within them subsections(hence the Orders of Angels and the Circles of Hell). This is very much a poem of a small man trying to categorize a big universe.
The Nine Circles of Hell are perhaps the most influential part of his poem, as they are still an active talking point today and are referenced in many works. Dante also gives his personal opinion on which sins he views least and most detrimental, thus organising them by placement and punishment. Also quite interesting is how Dante mixed in some(at the time) more modern scientific theories into his work, for which he was both insulted and praised. Anyone who reads the Divine Comedy will be in for an interesting and thought-provoking experience.
7. Leo Tolstoy
"If you look for perfection, you'll never be content."
-- Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
Tolstoy often looks at the more psychological aspects of society. He looks at the minds of individuals and how they, in a sense, mold morality, trends and viewpoints of a culturue. One of his most well known works, Anna Karenina, deals with issues of obsession, possessiveness, perfectionism, a loss of purpose, jealousy and an inability to differentiate want and need. The novel also has one of the most well executed examples of foreshadowing I've read yet.
6. Grant Morrison
"Adults struggle desperately with fiction, demanding constantly that it conform to the rules of everyday life."
-- Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human, Grant Morrison
Definitely one of the best known comic book writers out there, Grant Morrison is a fantastic, albeit sometimes confusing, author who penned many comics and gave fresh takes on many characters we know and love. Despite the often convoluted and metatextual stories Morrison likes to tell, I thoroughly enjoy all of his work. He has a way of making old ideas seem new and interesting. Of course, I love his Batman stories and I think they're honestly some of the best I've read on the Dark Knight.
5. J.R.R. Tolkien
“I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.”
-- The Fellowship of the Ring, Tolkien
How can any list of best writers be complete without including this legend? Tolkien is, without a doubt, one of the best and most influential writers of all time. His stories, the characters he invented, the worlds he created. An entire saga with new and creative ideas that hold audiences to this very day. I don't think there's a single person on this site that hasn't at least heard of Frolo, Gandalf, Legolas, the Hobbits, the dragon Smaug and many more of Tolkien's inventions.
4. Mary Shelley
"Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos."
-- Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
The ranking of Shelley being so high might come a surprise to some, but to me it just makes sense. She invented an entire new genre of horror, and writing in general. In a world of fantasy and myth, Mary invented her own legends. She was, arguably, the first science-fiction writer with the critically acclaimed Frankenstein, and also wrote what was, to my knowledge, the first post-apocalyptic dystopia novel, known as The Last Man. The tropes of zombies, plagues, man-made apocalyptic events and in-general man using science to mess with the fabric of reality and causing intense consequences, were all started by this one woman. She's criminally underrated in my view, especially given how much modern-day literature she helped create.
Also fun fact: she kept her dead husband's heart wrapped up in poems she wrote for him. If Edgar Allen Poe is the father of gothic horror, then Mary Shelley is the godmother.
3. Ivo Andrić and Petar Petrović Njegoš
"The wreath's heavy, but the fruit is so sweet! Without death there is no resurrection. Under a shroud of glory I see you and our nation's honour resurrected."
-- Mountain Wreath, Petar Petrović Njegoš
"Forgetfulness heals everything and song is the most beautiful manner of forgetting, for in song man feels only what he loves."
-- A Bridge on the Drina, Ivo Andrić
I actually had a really hard time deciding which one of these Serbian authors I should add to my list, given how important they are to my country and culture. So I decided to include both of them on the number 3 spot.
Petar Petrović Njegoš spoke primarily about cultural and individual perservation; his story The Mountain Wreath was critical at a time where the Serbian culture was all but whipped away by the Turkish Empire. In the story, a moral dilemma is presented: should civil war break out between brothers, or should the Serbs sit idly by and let themselves slowly be assimilated into another culture that they viewed as unjust. Petar presents himself in this story through two figures -- one a leader of the people, and another a man of high religious status -- that ultimately must answer what the right choice is. The story focuses on the unbreakable human spirit when faced against injustice and evil, and how you can never truly gain something without some sort of sacrifice.
Ivo Andrić was a man who loved bridges and viewed them as a structure of many functions. Primarily, he used bridges in his stories in a metaphorical sense as symbols of connections. Bridges connect cultures, viewpoints, ideas, people; they connect the past, present and future. They connect eternity with the temporary. His novel A Bridge on the Drina, actually best details this and it even won Andrić a Nobel Prize. Ivo Andrić also writes about life's dilemmas and how many makes his own destiny, by being smart in Signs Next to the Road.
2. H. P. Lovecraft
"It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind, that some of earth's dark, dead corners and unplumbed depths be left alone; lest sleeping abnormalities wake to resurgent life, and blasphemously surviving nightmares squirm and splash out of their black lairs to newer and wider conquests."
-- At the Mountains of Madness, Howard Philips Lovecraft
One of Mankind's oldest fears is fear of the unknown. Nobody better uses this idea in their works than Lovecraft. Today, his name is synonymous with monsters that exist on a different plane of reality: beings well beyond the comprehension of humans. All of H.P.'s works detail this. He has written many short stories on the topics, where he implemented his own fears of the unknown, of the ocean and of space in one cosmic cacophany of beings that should not be, but still exist.
Lovecraft's grappling with the unknown and abstract allowed him to become one of the most influential authors of all time. Most of us have heard of Cthulhu. Most of us have seen horror movies where the villain is an unseeable, unknowable force. Most of us are terrified of tendrils and tentacles that could literally squeeze the soul right out of our body. And that's all because of the dramatic imagination of one man.
1. Neil Gaiman
"Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and adventures are the shadow truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes and forgotten."
-- Sandman, Neil Gaiman
Anyone who knows me probably saw this one coming from a mile away. If you ever wanna read and other who wrestles with the abstract, who gives a bit of social commentary, who has plenty of myth references in his tales and, most importantly, is incredibly thought provoking; I can think of nobody better than Neil Gaiman. Neil just has a way of making dark topics like Death, Nightmares and the Infinity of the Universe seem so much brighter and sweeter.
The overarching theme in all of Gaiman's work is that dreams shape reality. The will, faith and imagination of a person is enough to change something old or create something new. He has presented a plethora of captivating stories with interesting, three-dimensional characters that just suck you into a world beyond imagination.
His most well-known works are American Gods, Coraline and, of course, Sandman(which is still probably my favourite comic series, period).
Now as I said, this is just my personal opinion on the topic and if you disagree that's understandable. Thanks for reading. ^_^