If there is one writer who inspired me to write, it is William Sydney Porter known by his pen name O.Henry. A great twister of words and language. No other writer played with language as much as he. His made extensive use of used wit and sarcasm in his tales. His clever plot-twists, use of cliff hangers made him the master of short-story genre. Born in 1862 North Carolina, he begin his career as a pharmacist. But his serious literary career took off while serving a sentence on charges of embezzlement. Some of his most admired works are The Gift Of Maggie, The last leaf, The Pendulum & The Ransom of Red Chief.
Guy de Maupassant
It was a chance encounter that I stumbled on Le hora short story at cousins’s house. What a brilliant horror story, it literally spooked me for nights. Henri Rene’ Albert Guy de Maupassant was born in 1850 in France. His own experience in the Franco-Persian war became the setting of most of his stories. He brilliantly portrayed the suffering and tragedy of country folks. His stories also reflect his own despise of rich and bourgeois. His notable works are The Necklace, Le Horla & Boule de Suif. In his later life he suffered from a mental illness and died in a mental asylum in 1892.
Leo Tolstoy without any doubt is the father of the short-story genre. His works often reflect the Russian social milieu and the spiritual dilemma that he himself faced in his life. Born as Count Lyov Nikolayevich Tolstoy in 1828, Russia, he drew heavily from his experiences. Despite born in privilege as a aristocrat he very realistically portrayed the plight of peasants and the vast gulf between the rich and the poor. Although he is renowned as great novelist and credited with literally masterpieces such as , War and Peace, Anna Karenina& TheDeath of Ivan Ilyich, however I most enjoy his short-stories. His short-stories remain a great comfort to me in my hours of darkness and moral crisis. If you are literature lover than the works of Tolstoy is must on your shelves.
The noble laureate Rabbinate Tagore remains as one of the most influential Indian writer. His works are notable for ordinary characters placed in extraordinary situation. His stories reflects his own surroundings and people. Most of his work is penned against the backdrop of British imperialism in India. His protagonists very often voice his take on the nationalist movement and woman empowerment. I am drawn to his stories partly because of the strong female characters. I personally feel no other writer in literature has given so much space to women as Rabindranath Tagore. The bard of Bengali Literature as he is fondly called, he redefined the Indian Literature. He truly remains a rare literary gems, his most famous tales are, Kabuliwala, The Postmaster & Hungry Stones.
Edgar Allen Poe
No list of short-story writers is complete without mention of the great Edgar Allen Poe. The great American writer known for his tales of macabre and dark remains as one of the most prolific writer of all times. His life and death like many of his most famous works remains a mystery. One of the first short-story writers, he compressed the art of novel into stories. Many attribute the birth of detective and science fiction to him. Poe was born in 1809 in Boston and led a life marred by financial woes and instability. The master of Gothic fiction, he abhorred the transcendentalism of eighteen century. To name a few , The Tell-Tale Heart, The Black Cat, The Masque of the Red Death, The oval portrait are some of his most notable works.
Tragic Oedipus wandered blind In the bazaars of colorful Athens Crimson blood oozing out From hollowed eyes Cursing gods For his fate so harsh Carrying shame of Copulation with mother Strong guilt sits heavy For slaying, his own father Roaming from street to street Asking same question, “Why was I the chosen one” Begotten out of the cursed Womb of Jocasta Doomed by abhorrent act of Laius In self pity and gloating had he forgotten of the little boy sodomized Shame horror subsequent death Chrysippus Condemned For acts of evil that men commit For which naive boys And girls pay heavy price In his misfortune did he think of young Chrisypuss Dishonored, violated Did he not ponder upon wickedness that men carry Atrocities for which many Young ones are robbed Of single drop of dignity.
(In Greek mythology, Chrysippus was a divine hero of Elis in the Peloponnesus, the bastard son of Pelops king of Pisa in the Peloponnesus and the nymph Axioche or Danais. He was kidnapped by the Theban Laius, his tutor, who was escorting him to the Nemean Games, where the boy planned to compete. Instead, Laius ran away with him to Thebes and raped him, a crime for which he, his city, and his family were later punished by the gods. But over the years while studying Greek Mythology, people often remember tragedy of Oedipus but left out Chryisppus which according to me is a bigger tragedy. Many young boys get raped or sodomized but their stories never come to surface, this is just my attempt to bring Chrysippus story through poetry. who was sodomized and raped in the Greek mythology of Oedipus)
This all-favorite by Jane Austin still reckons with book lovers in the twenty-first century, nearly 250 years after its publication. Sparks fly high between the fierce and outspoken Elizabeth Bennet and arrogant William Darcy in this romance. The story follows the life of Elizabeth Bennet a sassy and intelligent young woman, who is never afraid to speak her mind and her quest for love. Despite all the recent feminist onslaught, it continues to entertain and delight readers across the globe due to its universal appeal.
This coming of age novel by Charlotte Bronte narrates the exceptional survival tale of protagonist Jane Eyre. Published under the pen name “Currer Bell”, on 16 October 1847, novel was the first of its kind. Although dismissed by critics as anti-christian at the time of its publication. The novel rose to meteoric rise since then and Jane is considered the first modern female heroine. The novel charts Jane’s progress from a docile orphan to a career woman and her subsequent marriage to Edward Rochester.
Sons and the Lovers
D.H Lawrence’s magnum opus The Sons and Lovers published in 1913 was the first novel on the premises of psychoanalysis. The novel exploring the complex relationship between the protagonist and his mother, a result of oedipus complex. The novel narrates the story of Paul who is obsessively devoted to his mother and hates his father. The relationship often borders on romance and desire. The novel reflects Lawrence’s own devotion to his mother and was largely written at the time of his mother’s illness.
Things Fall Apart
No other novel comes closer to depicting the horrors of coloniasation as Nigerian author Chinua Acheb’s masterpiece, Things Fall Apart published in 1958. The first modern African novel has since become an important historical document tracing the influence of colonialism and important work in post-colonial studies. the novel follows the life of Okonkwo, an Igbo(“Ibo” in the novel) man and local wrestling champion in the fictional Nigerian clan of Umuofia.
One hundred years of Solitude
Published in 1967 by the celebrated Columbian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years Of Solitude remains a classic. No other writer has depicted the latin American society so vividly and realistcally as Marquez. The novel adopts the magic realism as a style to depict the complex and almost mythical reality of Latin American countries. The novel traces the story of Buendia in the fictional town of Mocando. Published at a time of literary latin -American boom. The novel has been since published into thirty-seven languages and is a must for anyone who wants to explore the Colombian culture and myth.
Out of the many sad events that unfolded in the last couple of weeks, the passing away of literary Giant, Sir V.S Naipaul was perhaps the lowest moment in the literary corridors. The Nobel Laureate was born in 1932 in rural Trinidad in a Hindu family with Indian roots. I can’t think of any other writer who wrote so extensively and blazingly about the post-colonial reality. Naipaul not only created but actually lived that dual post-colonial existence. His fiction and non-fiction brilliantly explore the complexities and paradoxes of individuals juggling between two worlds, like himself. The master of wit and humor, he didn’t shy away from criticising the third world countries for their own plight. It was a stance which was to attract a lot of flake especially from postcolonial writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Naipaul’s own personal life was controversial too, his misogynistic behavior towards his first wife, Patricia Ann Hale Naipul. A woman whom he cruelly abandoned for his mistress for twenty-five years and his subsequent marriage to Nadira Naipaul. Despite all the absurdities of his own life, no other writer came close to his mastery over language and twist endings. He was the master of wit and dry humor and played so brilliantly with the words. Some of his memorable works are, A House for Mr. Biswas, A Bend in The River and Miguel Street.
Well if there is one writer that I feel could do justice to his style of writing was the great American writer, O.Henry who like Naipaul was exceptionally gifted when it came to twisting endings and sarcasm. Both Naipul and O. Henry narrated stories of ordinary human beings and mundane chores with heightened awareness and observational skills. I can’t think of any writer in the contemporary world who can uplift the level of language as did Naipaul and O.Henry.
Naipul’s demise is a personal loss, for an aspiring writer like me. If there is one writer I wish to write like, it is Sir V.S Naipaul. I yearn as a writer for Naipaul’s dry-humor, clever endings, and the exceptional observational skills. May his soul rest in peace and his work continue to enlighten and entertain the readers for years to come.