Friday, April 6, 2007

Best Books by Authors 26 and Under

To inspire us all, here are some authors who did some or all of their best work before they were as old as I am:

1. John Keats, "Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems." This collection includes the odes. (Age 25)
2. Arthur Rimbaud, "Illuminations & A Season in Hell" (Age 19)
3. Mary Shelley, "Frankenstein" (Age 21)
4. David Hume, "A Treatise Concerning Human Nature" (Age 26)
5. Charles Dickens, "The Pickwick Papers" (Age 24)
6. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "The Sorrows of Young Werther" (Age 24)
7. Alexander Pushkin, "Ruslan and Ludmila" (Age 21)
8. Raymond Radiguet, "Count D'Orgel's Ball" (Age 20 - he published another very good novel when he was 19!)
9. Samuel Coleridge, Contributions to "Lyrical Ballads," including The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Christabel, and Kubla Khan. (Age 26)
10. Leo Tolstoy, "Childhood, Boyhood, Youth" (Age 24-25)
11. Thomas Chatterton, Last Poems (Age 17)
12. Percy Shelley, Poems of 1816, including Mont Blanc and Alastor (Age 24)
13. Fyodor Dostoevsky, "Poor Folk" (Age 25)

Honorable Mentions

- Gore Vidal, "The City and the Pillar" (Age 23)
- D.H. Lawrence, "Odour of Chrysanthemems" (Age 24) Only a short story - finally published in a collection with several other masterpieces at the ripe age of 28.
- Henry Green, "Living" (Age 24)
- Philip Roth, "Goodbye Columbus and Other Stories" (Age 26)
- Kaavya Viswanathan, Portions of "How Opal Mehta Got Wild, Got Kissed and Got a Life" (Age 19)


Jeff said...

I love the Kaavya reference. Or at least I hope that was ironic.

Stephen said...

Guess I'll never get to make this list...

Julie said...

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was published when Eliot was 29, but probably completed when he was 22 or 23.

Katie said...

1. Having read Kaavya Viswanathan's novel, I can assure you that it should not have an honorable mention, as the prose is very bad. You'd think if she was going to plagiarize, she'd plagiarize better.

2. Dostoevsky's "The Double" is a much better work than "Poor Folk". It isn't a novel per se, more like a novella (or, as Dostoevsky called it, a 'Peterburgskaya poema' -- although if you count "Dead Souls" as a novel, also a 'poema', I feel like "The Double" should count). But it is better than "Poor Folk" by a lot. Largely because Makar Devushkin doesn't feature in it, and Golyadkin is more in the style of Dostoevsky's later heroes: Underground Man and Ivan Karamazov. It, too, was published in 1846 when Dostoevsky was 25.