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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

What 20th and 21st century writers or books do you believe will survive the test of time?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25563 points ) September 8th, 2010

(This question is inspired in part by this question.)

There are great works of literature that have been passed down through many years. One only needs to consider The Iliad to see how long some literature can survive. There are many reading lists replete with the great books of the ages for perusing.

Some of those lists include 20th and 21st century works.

What do you think? What writers or books from the last or present century will still be read and enjoyed hundreds of years from now?

I realize we can’t know for sure, but I hope that the books of Anne Carson (especially Eros, the Bittersweet) will still be around. She has a body of work that is quite distinguished.

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22 Answers

phoebusg's avatar

Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance (Robert Pirsig). Or so I hope.
Siddharta (Hermann Hesse).

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Strictly because of my personal tastes, I really hope every book by Dean Koontz is around forever. And Stephen King. And Jude Deveraux. I assume Shakespeare and Mark Twain are pretty much a given.

nebule's avatar

Will Self

Seek's avatar

Tolkien will live forever.

ipso's avatar

All books will survive the test of time, as you put it. Indeed your question ^ will be a part of the larger collection.

Now what people will read cover to cover, and by how many: as they say, only time will tell.

All will be datamined for content and usage, in ways we can only barely imagine.

muppetish's avatar

Milan Kundera and Haruki Murakami are two writers I would like to see read for a good long time. Of the poets, Charles Bukowski.

And Lemony Snicket.

lsdh182's avatar

I hope American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis survives, also hoping it remains as relevant and comical as ever.

absalom's avatar

One of the obvious ones, to me, includes Don DeLillo (whom I like). Philip Roth, whom I don’t care for, will also probably be around for a long time.

My personal favorite for obtaining the Nobel prize and eternal readership, however, is Thomas Pynchon. And my personal hope regarding his works is that Gravity’s Rainbow doesn’t come to completely overshadow Mason & Dixon.

For more contemporary authors: although some contest his importance, I hope sincerely that David Foster Wallace is studied more seriously/intensely in the decades to come. We’ve just now got the first real critical/scholarly volume on his stuff, which I’m very happy to see. And then there is William T. Vollmann, whom I think will stick around but kind of unfortunately float to the margins of critical discourse.

If we’re taking The Iliad for a comparison, though, probably only Joyce and Eliot and Pynchon really have a chance at that brand of immortality, and I should hope Faulkner.

zen_'s avatar

The Future Happens Twice, and the subsequent novels.

Your_Majesty's avatar

Any books from Cornelia Funke.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@zen_ : Still reading it?
@absalom : I could not agree with you more on Pynchon, and I was also glad to see that you thought Mason & Dixon a better book than Gravity’s Rainbow. I love both books.
@ipso : Please, note that in the details I specifically asked what 20th and 21st century books would be read and enjoyed in hundreds of years. I have no doubt that the vast majority of books will be digitally archived, but as you rightly point out, that does not mean they will be read.

Austinlad's avatar

Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.

OwlofHappiness's avatar

As many books as there are that I think should stay around, the ones that probably will, will be books like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Stephen King, etc. Ones that are already very well known

GeorgeGee's avatar

I’d add “Fight Club” and “Snow Crash” to the list. They are wonderfully well written, engaging, and genre-busting.

lsdh182's avatar

@GeorgeGee absolutely Fight Club.

harple's avatar

Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide and Richard Adams’ Watership Down are two that spring to mind that haven’t already been mentioned ^. (And no, I didn’t just google search that and write down the first two I came across, purely coincidence!)

muppetish's avatar

@harple I can’t believe I didn’t think of Douglas Adams. He’s only one of my favourite writers ever.

Seek's avatar

That Douglas Adams really knows where his towel is, don’t he?

tranquilsea's avatar

I agree with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

I know L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series will too.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

George Orwell will last awhile. Edgar Allen Poe, will as well.

BratLady's avatar

My two favorite authors. James Patterson and Mary Higgins Clark.

nebule's avatar

Vladimir Nabakov

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