Personally, I was delighted to see Larkin at the top of the list. His
reputation only took off late in life, just before his death in 1985,
but in the years since it's pretty well been the consensus that he's
the best English poet of the second half of the twentieth century.
The big surprise was to see a poet -- any poet -- beat out Orwell (a
perennial favorite) and Golding (a Nobel Prize winner) for the top spot.
Moorcock of course I'd have left off altogether: even fiftieth
place is too generous for an opinionated hack. I don't much like
Mieville, but surely he's a better writer and deserves the spot more
than Moorcock. I'd also have bumped up Fowles about twenty places,
sunk Carter to the very bottom (or removed her altogether), and taken
Rushdie out (a publicity stunt gone horribly awry doesn't make him
one of the greats).
The person I'd most want to see added is Richard Adams: he
deserves it for WATERSHIP DOWN alone, while GIRL ON A SWING shows he
can write just as well in a completely different mode (turning
PORTRAIT OF JENNIE into a creepily effective modern horror novel). I
also think Gaiman shd be there, not for his novels or (God knows) his
screenplays but for his short stories and young adult fiction:
there's no one this side of Ray Bradbury who can equal him there.
Congratulations to the list-makers anyway for including Tolkien
in the top ten, and for making room for Rowling and (especially)
Pullman, though I think he shd have ranked higher than he did.
On Jan 21, 2008, at 8:44 AM, Adam Smith wrote:
> An interesting list, though of course these lists are made simply to
> be argued with.
> There were some important omissions that others have noted - Richard
> Adams, Graham Greene, W.H. Auden. The criteria for inclusion on the
> list seems a bit cloudy.
> Larkin, though a talented (and at times downright depressing) writer
> and poet, is a surprise at #1.
> I was rather surprised to see John Fowles & AS Byatt so far down the
> list - I think "The French Lieutenant's Woman" and "Possession" are
> two of the better postwar English novels.
> I also think a case could be made for Robert Holdstock - certainly
> more so, IMHO, than Moorcock.
> Just my two cents (or less).