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John Simkin

Who is the most important writer of the early 20th century?

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Who is the most important writer of the early 20th century?

It could be argued that the author who taught us most about ourselves is D. H. Lawrence.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JlawrenceDH.htm

H. G. Wells is the most important in the field of science fiction.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Jwells.htm

George Bernard Shaw deserves a mention for his willingness to take on the establishment (he was the only leading UK writer who was not asked to become a member of the War Propaganda Bureau during the First World War).

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Jshaw.htm

John Maynard Keynes is the most important economist writing during this period.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/TUkeynes.htm

However, I believe the most important were those who wrote about their experiences of the First World War. For example, Robert Graves, Erich Maria Remarque, Ludwig Renn, Ernst Toller, Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg, Siegfried Sassoon, Charles Sorley and Ivor Gurney.

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Herman Hesse

1922 - Siddhartha

1927 - Der Steppenwolf (Steppenwolf)

1930 - Narziss und Goldmund (Narcissus and Goldmund)

1932 - Die Morgenlandfahrt (Journey to the East)

1943 - Das Glasperlenspiel (The Glass Bead Game, also published as Magister Ludi)

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Herman Hesse

1922 - Siddhartha

1927 - Der Steppenwolf (Steppenwolf)

1930 - Narziss und Goldmund (Narcissus and Goldmund)

1932 - Die Morgenlandfahrt (Journey to the East)

1943 - Das Glasperlenspiel (The Glass Bead Game, also published as Magister Ludi)

I remember reading Hesse's books as a teenager. They definitely made an impression as I was a student in Catholic School at the time, and for me, Hesse opened the door to existentialism.

In literature, James Joyce extended the envelope for later writers both with Ulysses, and Finnegan's Wake. Prior to Joyce I doubt if any writer had so broadly exhibited such a level of inventiveness and innovation in the use of language as had Joyce. The ripple effect extended down through Beckett, Huxley, et al, and later through the 'renaissance' of the 1950's and 1960's. Of course as I am of Irish descent so I may be biased.

When a teenager I could not get enough science fiction. Writers from the early 20th century, whom I have thoroughly enjoyed, include Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. G. Wells, and Fritz Lang. However, George Orwell comes to mind as a writer of great influence, both in fantasy and science fiction, as well as general fiction. Of course Orwell had very pointed political beliefs which he expressed in his work. To me J.R.R. Tolkien is my favorite fantasy and science fiction writer of the 20th century (although he may not be considered 'early' 20th century). He really knew how to tell a story. I read the 'Tolkien trilogy' at least six times.

Of course honorable mention would have to go to F. Scott Fitzgerald and the 'Lost Generation' writers, although, with few exceptions (such as Hemingway), I found them fairly boring. Of course I read them as a teenager when I had the attention span of a pigeon.

The only writers that come to mind from this era are Upton Sinclair and H. L. Mencken.

Good topic. How about writers from the 1950's and 60's? What do you reckon the influence of Jack Kerouac was on 20th century literature and culture?

Edited by Peter McKenna

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Herman Hesse

1922 - Siddhartha

1927 - Der Steppenwolf (Steppenwolf)

1930 - Narziss und Goldmund (Narcissus and Goldmund)

1932 - Die Morgenlandfahrt (Journey to the East)

1943 - Das Glasperlenspiel (The Glass Bead Game, also published as Magister Ludi)

I remember reading Hesse's books as a teenager. They definitely made an impression as I was a student in Catholic School at the time, and for me, Hesse opened the door to existentialism.

In literature, James Joyce extended the envelope for later writers both with Ulysses, and Finnegan's Wake. Prior to Joyce I doubt if any writer had so broadly exhibited such a level of inventiveness and innovation in the use of language as had Joyce. The ripple effect extended down through Beckett, Huxley, et al, and later through the 'renaissance' of the 1950's and 1960's. Of course as I am of Irish descent so I may be biased.

When a teenager I could not get enough science fiction. Writers from the early 20th century, whom I have thoroughly enjoyed, include Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. G. Wells, and Fritz Lang. However, George Orwell comes to mind as a writer of great influence, both in fantasy and science fiction, as well as general fiction. Of course Orwell had very pointed political beliefs which he expressed in his work. To me J.R.R. Tolkien is my favorite fantasy and science fiction writer of the 20th century (although he may not be considered 'early' 20th century). He really knew how to tell a story. I read the 'Tolkien trilogy' at least six times.

Of course honorable mention would have to go to F. Scott Fitzgerald and the 'Lost Generation' writers, although, with few exceptions (such as Hemingway), I found them fairly boring. Of course I read them as a teenager when I had the attention span of a pigeon.

The only writers that come to mind from this era are Upton Sinclair and H. L. Mencken.

Good topic. How about writers from the 1950's and 60's? What do you reckon the influence of Jack Kerouac was on 20th century literature and culture?

Andy and or John, as I am not an academic, I was just wondering if my posting here may not be entirely suitable. I posted to the subject as I have read many books in my life and I was thoroughly tempted. However, I didn't think about the academic 'Correctness' of my posting here, prior to posting.

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Good topic. How about writers from the 1950's and 60's? What do you reckon the influence of Jack Kerouac was on 20th century literature and culture?

1950's: Malcolm Lowry (Under the Volcano); Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita -- hard to believe English was his second language); Allen Ginsberg (Howl), Anne Sexton (To Bedlam and Part-Way Back); John Berryman (Dreamsongs -- "Henry" persona); Norman Mailer (The Naked and the Dead);

1940's: Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman); Tennessee Williams (A Streetcar Named Desire); Gore Vidal (The City and the Pillar).

Kathy

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How about Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway? (I just realized: they both killed themselves.)

Kathy

Or were they suicided?

My original list only included British writers. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" is a fantastic novel. I also like Saul Bellow's "the Dangling Man", a much underated book.

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Jack London "The Iron Heel" 1906. Probably the most prescient novel of the 20th century. Trotsky certainly thought so.

And head and shoulders above George Orwell IMHO :rolleyes:

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Good topic. How about writers from the 1950's and 60's? What do you reckon the influence of Jack Kerouac was on 20th century literature and culture?

1950's: Malcolm Lowry (Under the Volcano); Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita -- hard to believe English was his second language); Allen Ginsberg (Howl), Anne Sexton (To Bedlam and Part-Way Back); John Berryman (Dreamsongs -- "Henry" persona); Norman Mailer (The Naked and the Dead);

1940's: Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman); Tennessee Williams (A Streetcar Named Desire); Gore Vidal (The City and the Pillar).

Kathy

There is one writer who never gets mentioned. Playwright William Inge. He wrote the best tragic parts for actresses. Most of his plays were turned into films. There was: The Stripper (1964), Bus Stop (1956), Come Back Little Sheba (50's), and my mind goes blank. He wrote many others. All I know about him is he was gay and he committed suicide. And I have a degree in English. We never covered him.

Kathy

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There is one writer who never gets mentioned. Playwright William Inge. He wrote the best tragic parts for actresses. Most of his plays were turned into films. There was: The Stripper (1964), Bus Stop (1956), Come Back Little Sheba (50's), and my mind goes blank. He wrote many others. All I know about him is he was gay and he committed suicide. And I have a degree in English. We never covered him.

Kathy

And he wrote Splendor in the Grass.

Kathy

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I find this thread particularly thought provoking because, perhaps,(as I see it), there is no answer.

In the process of considering it I have become aware of Joseph Conrad.

............

One commentator describes him as a bridge between two eras. He is also seen as a visionary in many ways. Many later authors claim him as an inspiration. He was a friend and contemporary of a number of the other writers mentioned so far.

I think, he, himself, the man, his life, can also be seen as a "description of the human condition". He lived a dramatic life and he documented his thoughts in many writings that are interpreted in contradictory ways.

Possibly he could be considered as 'the father of the great early twentieth century writers", and also, through his influence, an inadvertent inspiration to many latter 20th century writers.

http://www.bookrags.com/Joseph_Conrad

Edited by John Dolva

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I agree - there's no right answer but the authors I find myself repeatedly mentally referring to or using as a reference for the present which must mean they had a significant impact on me would be:

George Orwell, H G Wells, D H Lawrence, Shaw, Wilfred Owen and Virginia Woolf. Then not necessarily great but I have always enjoyed Somerset Maugham, G K Chesterton, Priestley and Galsworthy. Mmmm.... very conservative taste really!

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Trotsky did not write in English, nor did he speak it particularly well. Nevertheless "Where is Britain Going?" is one of the most thought-provoking books about England in the inter-war period and his History of the Russian Revolution is an extraordinary book which makes you want to read on despite the calls of food and sleep despite the fact that you do know how it all ends :rolleyes:

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Trotsky did not write in English, nor did he speak it particularly well. Nevertheless "Where is Britain Going?" is one of the most thought-provoking books about England in the inter-war period and his History of the Russian Revolution is an extraordinary book which makes you want to read on despite the calls of food and sleep despite the fact that you do know how it all ends :rolleyes:

Agreed. Trotsky's "History of the Russian Revolution" can be seen as a template of the 'how to do it' of historical study. A must for historians.

___________________

Isaac Asimov is possibly one of the most prolific writers (Fiction and Non Fiction, mostly popular science but also serious text books.) of the 20'th century and his essays on 'critical thinking' and popularising or bringing science to layman level in the early pulp SF publications are well worth reading. In his Fiction field he formulated 'the three laws' in 'I, Robot' (or was it little lost robot? or something that that I Robot and sequences flowed from) and one can see the influence of these in other fields today. Similarly his Foundation series (SF) are mostly spell binding in scope, spanning aeons, one gets used to a character and develops a keen interest in this person and in the next book millinnea have past and a new cast with the previous one in oblivion, but a unifying thread follows.

Ursula K. LeGuin is worth reading (IMO).

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