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The Killer Snark

The Most Criminally Overlooked or Underrated Writers Ever List

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In no order, but as they come to me, for starters:



Hart Crane - The greatest poet of the 20th century, whose reputation has always been superseded by the likes of Eliot, Pound and Thomas. The only poet of the 20th century whose brilliance rivals that of Shelley, Whitman, Tennyson and Keats. Ignored on account of a readership brought up to be antagonistic towards any aspects of High Romanticism, however progressive, on account of the self-propagandistic 'criticism' of Eliot, among others, and like-minded editors responsible for turning modern poetry into the PC-agenda setting, nepotistic farce it has become. The Bridge, however much of a failure it is in places, is still one of the greatest long poems in our language. Equalled only by Swinburne in terms of his technical ear but with a corresponding emotional and intellectual range that is only found in Swinburne, who also makes my list, at that latter's very best.



Algernon Swinburne - His reputation was destroyed by Eliot, who also attempted to destroy the reputation of Blake in his so-called self-serving 'criticism' (Hell, the overrated vandal even had a go at Yeats, which at least he later admitted was an attempt to usurp Yeats' reputation out of envious rivalry!), and it will never be recovered. But he was one of the finest poets of the Late Romantic Victorian era, and ought to be recognised as such. Poems such as A Leave Taking, Felise and At a Month's End are among the most genuinely heartbreaking odes to lost, unrequited or unattainable love produced in any love poetry ever scribed.



Bruno Schulz - Tragically killed young by the Nazis, but wrote two absolute masterpieces beforehand, The Street of Crocodiles and Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, which perfect what we term as 'magic realism' in prose that radiates at times an almost reiligious sense of poetry. Regarded cultishly in certain circles as an equal to his hero, Kafka, but mainly in his homeland Poland, and he ought elsewhere to be better known.



Olaf Stapledon - Most credit is given in terms of the development of early science fiction to HG Wells, a completely horrible and sometimes unreadable writer with no flair for structure or characterisation, without the same respect afforded to the visionary Stapledon, a man whose prose-poetic ruminations on man's place within the universe's blind destiny are among the most terrifying but exhilarating things written outside of Dante's La Commedia. Cognoscenti regard his masterworks, Last and First Men and the sublimely cosmic Star Maker as among the finest works of the twentieth century, and not just in the realm of science fiction, which is a term he abhorred: regarding himself foremost as a philosopher who used fiction to display man's possibilities, and to simultaneously mourn and celebrate his quest for a moral God.


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Jack Vance. Huge ouput over the many years he was active, beautiful use of language, huge imagination. A few awards were garnered along the way, but he should have got many much wider recognition for his work.



JV wrote mainly science fiction and fantasy, but also several contemporary novels.


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How many posts does it take?



I'm putting the over/under at 7. But, it very well could happen in the next freaking post.


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Dante Gabriel Rosetti - His sister is still famous, but mediocre painter that he was in the main, he was a hugely visionary lyrical poet whose skills were way in advance of his more accessible sister Christina's. An acquired taste, but an idelible one once acquired; a sonneteer of equal originality and depth to the similarly aesthetically concentrated Donne, his 'The House of LIfe' is one of the finest sonnet cycles ever written, and frankly blows Shakespeare's well out of the water. And that's some statement coming from me, because I happen to love Shakespeare's sonnets. DG Rossetti's cycle, tragically, has long been out of print but can still be found online if you know where to look for it. According to Ezra Pound, he also wrote the definitive English translation of La Vita Nuova, by his better known namesake. That's Alighieri, by the way.


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I think Mark Z. Danielewski belongs here. His novel, House of Leaves is the strangest and scariest thing I've ever read. I've heard it described as The Ring or The Blair Witch Project put on paper, which would be superficial. Its way more than a horror novel. I struggle to even describe what it actually is. But, I do know that it is unique and if you take it up I can almost guarantee you wont see its like again. Danielewski has had his fair share of praise, but I rarely see House of Leaves mentioned anywhere outside of Amazon.com.


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The Pre-Raphaelite supernatural fiction writer R Murray Gilchrist and the equally superb, though more conventional, twentieth-century Gothic writer Marjorie Bowen, spring to mind. The first was never really known in his own lifetime, never mind forgotten, and the second is just not read anymore, but was a writer preferable in my eyes to Ambrose Bierce, who I have usually considered unreadable. She also wrote a story once set in Rutherglen, Glasgow, about ten minutes from where I live, which was quite far travelling, being as she was American. You may still know her, if you're fans of older supernatural fiction, from her short story The Bishop of Hell.


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Gene Wolfe is the most underrated or perhaps underread author.


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Jack Vance. Huge ouput over the many years he was active, beautiful use of language, huge imagination. A few awards were garnered along the way, but he should have got many much wider recognition for his work.

JV wrote mainly science fiction and fantasy, but also several contemporary novels.

He came to mind for me too.

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Gene Wolfe is the most underrated or perhaps underread author.

Agreed. I like to call him The James Joyce of Speculative Fiction.

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Gene Wolfe is the most underrated or perhaps underread author.

He is neither underrated or underread.

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It's criminal that Goodkind get's treated the way he does. I mean his books get put in the *gasp* fantasy wastelands. He's so far above that.


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Haven't seen Tad Williams mentioned that much and honestly I just finished TDBC and thought it was amazing! Just around page 260 of SoF and he just keeps going up and up! Surprised I haven't seen him mentioned that often

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From what I have seen, Gene Wolfe is severely underrated outside of this forum. No one I've met seems to really know about him, and when I mention that Book of the New Sun is my favorite science fiction series, they have almost never even heard of it.


I'm of the controversial opinion that Jane Austen is extremely overrated. I didn't see genius in either Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility.


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From what I have seen, Gene Wolfe is severely underrated outside of this forum. No one I've met seems to really know about him, and when I mention that Book of the New Sun is my favorite science fiction series, they have almost never even heard of it.

I'm of the controversial opinion that Jane Austen is extremely overrated. I didn't see genius in either Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility.

Different strokes for different folks.

I found Book of the New Sun to be a jumbled mess, personally.

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I wouldn't call Wolfe underrated, but underread certainly. Gaiman and a bunch of other authors I'm blanking on at the moment pretty much consider him to be the greatest living author in any genre, and his books almost always get super positive glowing rewviews. He certainly isn't as popular as he should be, at least here in the US. But people here are JUST starting to catch on to the whole Iain Banks thing, so, fuck, amreican readers and scfi, I dunno man.



Ahem. End of Rant

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David Mitchell.


Cloud Atlas



Greatest combination of genres and messages in one book, which is actually six books and one... Also fantastic film.


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David Mitchell is extremely well known.



Not criminally underrated considering they won Nobels, but Herta Muller, JMG Le Clezio, and Elfriede Jelinek are all underserved outside their own countries.



And the big one of course, Vivian St. Black.


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