Thursday, March 29, 2012

Which Authors are the Most Studied?


DG Myers at Commentary Magazine has compiled a list of the 25 most written about American authors according to MLA statistics.

Henry James edges out Faulkner for the top spot. TS Eliot is the top poet. Saul Bellow makes the list, Philip Roth does not. Toni Morrison is the highest ranking living author. Since Ezra Pound ranks fairly highly, I assume that critical studies are included in the number (perhaps even predominate).

From the article:

Here are the top 25 American writers as determined by the amount of scholarship on each. In brackets is the rise or fall of each writer when compared to his or her ranking since 1947.
( 1.) Henry James (3,188 items) [+1]
( 2.) William Faulkner (2,955) [-1]
( 3.) T. S. Eliot (2,659) [+1]
( 4.) Herman Melville (2,579) [-1]
( 5.) Vladimir Nabokov (2,290) [+5]
( 6.) Ernest Hemingway (2,220) [-0-]
( 7.) Edgar Allan Poe (1,958) [-2]
( 8.) Toni Morrison (1,950) [+9]
( 9.) Nathaniel Hawthorne (1,751) [-4]
(10.) Walt Whitman (1,647) [-2]
(11.) Emily Dickinson (1,623) [+2]
(12.) Ezra Pound (1,620) [-3]
(13.) Willa Cather (1,482) [+5]
(14.) Ralph Waldo Emerson (1,326) [-3]
(15.) Wallace Stevens (1,122) [-1]
(16.) Edith Wharton (1,087) [+5]
(17.) Henry David Thoreau (1,076) [-5]
(18.) F. Scott Fitzgerald (1,002) [-3]
(19.) Flannery O’Connor (935) [+3]
(20.) Mark Twain (882) [-4]
(21.) John Steinbeck (823) [+2]
(22.) William Carlos Williams (772) [-0-]
(23.) Saul Bellow (706) [+2]
(24.) Richard Wright (670) [+2]
(25.) Robert Frost (661) [-5]
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Surprises? Thoughts? If you had to write about one of these authors, which would you choose?

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Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

8 comments:

  1. No surprise, only saddened that only 5 female writers made the list. I'm also wondering where Dickens would be situated if the list were open to both British and American writers.

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    Replies
    1. I'd think that if British writers were on the list, they'd dominate -- Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens, for example, would all seem to be written about more than Henry James.

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    2. Oh, that definitely true! There are some extremely influential British writers... I was surprised by the number of poets on the list compared to prose writers.

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    3. Well I could see how poetry would leave more room for interpretation/explication than, say, something more straightforward like Steinbeck.

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  2. I've written about several of these authors before, but never anything as academic as a thesis or dissertation.

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  3. Replies
    1. He definitely wrote some good stuff.

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