1. Brigstock
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    Brigstock New Member

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    Who wrote the finest NON-fiction prose?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Brigstock, Jul 9, 2010.

    Forget originality, profundity of thought etc. If you could write essays, lit crit., journalism etc like anyone who would it be? Who wrote the finest non-fiction prose in English? I will nominate Aldous Huxley and C S Lewis.
     
  2. orange
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    orange Member

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    That's complicated. I'd have to nominate Mary Karr for current writers. Ayn Rand deserves it if for no other reason than the passion and zeal with which she expressed herself. And absolutely, unreservedly, Hannah Arendt.
     
  3. Addison
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    Addison Member

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    Well, probably Sir Thomas Browne or Samuel Johnson, for my money, and special mention for Joseph Addison. Aldous Huxley is a corker, though, I'll admit. Lewis did some pretty great stuff, and I love his poetry criticism, though for apologetics I slightly prefer Chesterton, who was one of the best stylists of the time, I think.

    William James also deserves a mention, I think.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Noam Chomsky is one of my favorite essayists in English. Outside of English, I would say Camus and Montaigne.

    Hannah Arendt is a good writer as well, so I second that.
     
  5. orange
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    orange Member

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    Ooh, thirdwind, you're right, I'm jumping on the Montaigne bandwagon.
     
  6. Addison
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    Addison Member

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    Strange how I didn't consider non-English writers.

    Montaigne, of course, and Plutarch.
     
  7. Jobeykobra
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    Jobeykobra Member

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    Hunter Thompson covered some great journalistic expeditions with great prose. His year with the Hell's Angels being one and the 1972 presidential campaign being another.
     
  8. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Christopher Hitchens, almost without question. The perfect combination of searing passion, English wit and literary awareness.
     
  9. kogarasumaro143
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    kogarasumaro143 Member

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    who are those people? are they members of the forum? or some famous essay writers?
     
  10. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    Members of the forums? That's a good 'un.
     
  11. kogarasumaro143
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    kogarasumaro143 Member

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    ha?? are they or not?
     
  12. Addison
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    Addison Member

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    Orwell would be another, I suppose, particularly Shooting an Elephant.
     
  13. orange
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    orange Member

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    No, they are not. Very famous writers. You should read some of their work - pretty much everybody that has been mentioned is genius in their own way.
     
  14. Brigstock
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    Brigstock New Member

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    Interesting suggestions. I should have added William Hazlitt
     
  15. Addison
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    Addison Member

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    Excellent choice, as is de Quincey in a similar vein.
     
  16. kogarasumaro143
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    kogarasumaro143 Member

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    Hmmm, particularly, where can I see them and other famous writers and their works?:confused:
     
  17. Aconite
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    Aconite Senior Member

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    Ursula K. LeGuin's translation of the Tao te Ching.
    Carl Sagan's (yes, you know it's coming) Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.
    Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet.
    Whomever wrote most primary religious texts.
    Ursula Goodenough's writings on science.
    Annie Dillard's writings on science.
    Joan Didion's The White Album.
    Etc. etc. etc.
     
  18. kogarasumaro143
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    kogarasumaro143 Member

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    unknown for me..
     
  19. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Google them. Wiki them. A little online research will let you know who they are and where to find what they wrote.
     
  20. Addison
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    I, er, really like S.J. Perelman, too.
     
  21. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    T.S Eliot wrote some great essays on poetry.

    Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins are also amazing non-fiction writers.
     
  22. Eric Aiello
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    Eric Aiello Member

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    Finest prose definitely cannot go to Gertrude Stein - but I love her work anyway. It's just fun.

    But seriously. This has to go to either John Burroughs for his nature writing. Beautiful stuff. Or to Carl Sagan. Sagan was a master of his craft. Science writing that was lovely and poetic, never dull - The Varieties of Scientific Experience is one of my favorites.
     
  23. Aconite
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    Aconite Senior Member

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    Now, you're just saying that so I'll make a 'me too' post, aren't you? However, I mentioned Sagan before you did!

    Sagan got me interested in science again as an adult after the tedium of endless, unchanging, uncreative lab reports turned me off in middle school--and that's probably the best compliment I can give.
     
  24. Eric Aiello
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    Hahaha... I saw the thread title and I said to myself "Oh my gosh! Sagan definitely belongs in there. I'm going to go put him in there!" I see, at least, that we recommended two different books of his! I really ought to get on reading The Demon Haunted World - I hear nothing but good about the book and it's sitting patiently on my shelf! As soon as I finish Black Boy...

    But fine, I was too late to add Sagan... I just looked again and I didn't notice any previous mentions for Burroughs. Burroughs was a huge name back in his day, one of the few fantastic writers who saw fame before death. Check his stuff out. His essay titled "The Faith of a Naturalist" is one of my favorite essays evah! :D

    One more: Janisse Ray. She wrote Ecology of a Cracker Childhood. Her prose is gorgeous. I met her, too. Her passion was contagious. Highly recommend reading her (if you're into the nature sort of thing).
     
  25. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    John McPhee is good. I've been reading snatches of his Annals of the Former World. He makes geology fascinating.

    I also think Barry Lopez deserves a mention. Arctic Dreams is a wonderful book.
     

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