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Fun one!! Top of mind at the moment would be A.S. Byatt. All time answers: Shakespeare & Milton. Other honorables: Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Mary Oliver. OF COURSE George Eliot if not for quantity then for quality.

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Nov 27, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

I’m reading Anna Karenina right now. It’s up there😮‍💨

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This is tough and highly subjective. From the scope of influence across English language literature it would be hard to surpass Shakespeare. He isn't always my favorite but his presence is felt everywhere.

In American literature I think there are a number of candidates. I am biased towards Steinbeck personally but arguments could be made for others as well.

I think that Haruki Murakami has an impressive body of work for a living author. While he writes in Japanese, his works are widely translated and he is still writing.

Interesting to see everyone's ideas.

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I'll offer two candidates from different perspectives:

In terms volume and financial success, maybe Stephen King? So many books and movie/TV adaptations. His pop-cultural influence during his time is not to be underestimated.

In terms of quality and dense, frantic innovation, perhaps Thomas Pynchon? He's only contributed 8 novel/las and a book of short stories so far but his influence on the literary and general artistic sentiments of the postmodern era cannot be understated. He picked up where Joyce left off.

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Nov 27, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

I would say Shakespeare but the authorship question is so up in the air that we can't really be certain of who the author was. But instead I will say Dostoevsky.

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Tolstoyyyy

But also Dickens? He wrote so MUCH and so much (even if not all) of it is so good.

And perhaps Hilary Mantel?

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Tolstoy. War and Peace is the greatest novel of them all. That alone would give him the crown.

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I struggle with the idea of "greatest" because it's so subjective, but I love swapping favorites with other readers. I'm going to cheat and name a few according to genre. Literary fiction: Louise Erdrich. Memoir: Joan Didion. Commercial fiction: Taylor Jenkins Reid.

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Nov 27, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

I'd say Cormac McCarthy and Kazuo Ishiguro are definitely up there for the simple fact that they've each produced at least two masterpieces each.

Louise Erdrich has tons of exceptional novels as well, though maybe too many bad novels. Ursula K Le Guin is also definitely one of the very best. Most only think of her novels, but her short stories and poetry (which is especially ignored, much to everyone's impoverishment) are also among the best.

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If we're taking the question at face value, then I would say Shakespeare, of course. I might also cite Hemingway, Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Ursula Le Guin for a whole range of reasons. Tolstoy? Attwood? Christie? Dorothy L Sayers for wide range? Too many!

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founding

Whoever wrote the "Old Testament."

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Churchill wrote all his life and authored many books. Thought I would make mention of his contribution to literacy.

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When I hear “greatest”, it makes me think of a sweeping epic and the best that comes to mind is Lord of the Rings

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Nov 27, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

“Single” “body of work”?

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...Tolkein?

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Isabelle Allende comes to my mind. I think you can count alongside her multiple books and translations into, I think it’s like 30 languages, her work as a Chilean journalist that earned her exile and the DAILY FOR DECADES (I am overcome when I think about that for so many reasons) letters she exchanged with her mother.

And BTMU, thank you for this mention and recommendation. I'm honored.

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There is a trick to this simple question. What can be considered the "greatest" body of work? What is greater—one incredible novel or dosens of really good ones? Tolkien or Stephen King? Do we consider short stories? Salinger, Chekhov, or Sheckley? What about poetry? Shakespeare, Brodsky, or Catullus?

From the top of my head, I would say Leo Tolstoy. Four incredible novels, all surprisingly different from each other. Several novellas, also brilliant. A body of short stories. Several tomes of hardcore philosophy. No poems, but maybe for the best.

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Nov 27, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

If “body of work” requires 3 or more works, then Dickens has to be in the conversation.

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Ooh, tough question! I'm going to go with Julia Cameron, best known for The Artist's Way series but who has more than three dozen fiction and non-fiction books. https://juliacameronlive.com/books-by-julia/

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Nov 28, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

JK Rowling and the Harry Potter Series. If you haven’t lived under a rock in the past 20 years, you‘ve probably read the books or seen the movies. Additionally, all the franchise connected to it. Must be worth millions of dollars. Same with LOTR. Bummer that Rowling is such a terf..

Shakespeare also comes to mind, because of his influence in the English language.

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Nov 28, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

From a Google search of Honoré de Balzac, whose Human Comedy was comprised of 90 separate novels and novellas - miniscule in comparison to:

What Spanish author wrote more than 5000 novels?

Corín Tellado

Romance author Corín Tellado from Spain held the world record for having sold the most books written in Spanish. Tellado published over 5,000 titles selling more than 400 million books. - Jan 24, 2020

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Nov 28, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

Are we talking quantity or some sort of qualitative measure?

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Nov 27, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

Haha, this reminds me of the trick question in my uni entrance exams (late 80s), which required us to list all poetry works by a certain Romanian poet, in the chronological order of their publication. So, who’s the most prolific writer you can think of, y’all, because I’m no good with data.

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Nov 27, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

Well, if sheer weight of books are to be taken into account, Isaac Asimov's "body of work" would have to be in the running. He prized himself on how many books he had written -- though he also juiced the numbers by counting books he'd written the introduction to.

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I don't wish to be pedantic, but doesn't it depend on how we define "greatest"? In terms of volume, or influence? Mind you, I'm not sure of the answer either way!

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Shakespeare, Whitman, King, Michner, Morrison, Tolstoy, Frost.....so, so many!

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I read the entire works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky in my late teens when I was scarfing a book a week. No author has made such an impression since, but then these days I struggle to read a book a month!

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Mikey - a great question would be ‘ whose work will still be widely read in 100 years time?’

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Thank you for the mention! ♥️

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It’s a toss up between God, Louis L’Amour, and the guy who writes phone books. Ayn Rand and Steven King are pikers by comparison, although the writer who gagged up the Protocols of the Elders of Zion seems to be selling a lot of copies lately. His is not an expansive body of work, but definitely a perennial best seller around the world.

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This is a great question. I'm throwing one in here that's pure personal preference, but I'd make a case for Geoff Dyer. He's written travel, biography, memoir, novels, he can do the lot. Out of Sheer Rage is I think one of the most influential non-fiction books written in the last 30 years, and I love his novel Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi too.

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deletedNov 27, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell
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