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501 Great Writers: A Comprehensive Guide to the Giants of Literature
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501 Great Writers: A Comprehensive Guide to the Giants of Literature

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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  95 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Entertaining and informative, this collection of brief, informal biographies spans the centuries from Sophocles in ancient Greece to Harper Lee in America's Deep South. Along the way, readers will enjoy pithy biographical sketches of existentialists Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, French satirist Voltaire and Edwardian satirist Oscar Wilde, dramatists from William Shake ...more
Hardcover, 640 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Barron's Educational Series
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Greg
Why 501? Why not 737 or 962?
Basically this is a great idea, and I'm regularly referring to it. Many more writers could have been included if the title of the book wasn't the determining factor. I think to have a handy reference book like this, forget the catchy title of 501 when there are six hundred and forty pages. Some entries get half a page, some get one page, some two pages, and some writers get four pages! A lot of pages are wasted by including full page images of old book covers or a ph
...more
Arthur Cravan
The four stars could be anything. It could be five. It could be two. I mean, as a reference, it's kind of a five - the layout is nice, it's listed in chronological order (Which I find most helpful) & has some quotes, some key works to check out, a little review of the writer & their style.
The choices are... I mean, you can't really rate it on that. It's objective. (To an extent.) But having said that, a lot of these people are kind of part of the canon you'd wander into anyway, if you're
...more
Andrei
Excellent reference book with biographies and book listings for each of the authors. A collective effort by a very talented group of individuals.
Myles
I've only seriously leafed through this four or five times since checking it out, but its clear to me that this has too little meat in it to serve as a decent reference to keep handy.

The books greatest recommendation is that the authors are all arranged by birthdate so when one flips through it you see contemporaries ranged together, promoting thoughts on the essentially collaborative effort that all literature is. At no point did the editors attempts to rank the authors in any way, which is bot
...more
Fémi Peters
Une excellente encyclopédie où j'ai découvert de nombreux écrivains (et j'ai considérablement alourdi ma PAL!).
Le titre m'intriguait: pourquoi 501? La réponse est dans la préface: "l'espace de rêve demeure: il est tout entier contenu dans le 1 qui s'ajoute aux 500, comme dans le 1 des 1001 nuits. Il ouvre le champ des possibles, il laisse imaginer celui qu'on aimerait tant placer parmi les autres; il suggère que la liste n'est pas close."
Chaque biographie débute par un petit encadré de deux phr
...more
Toby
After all, 501 is too few. It also profiles authors who are good but not great and there are notable absentees as well. Somerset Maugham for instance. Of course it focuses more on the Western authors. One of the nice elements in the book, is the highlighting of a sentence from a book written by the authors. This, is nothing, at least helps in building one's list of quotable quotes! It's an ok read in bed.
Ramona
I would recommend this book to all my fellow librarians. Its very informative and has good photographs too, its great really for browsing if you need to find something out fast...
Roberta
An interesting list of authors, although it focuses more on American and English literature. Their choices showed little knowledge about Brazilian literature for example. They chose to name our best writer, Machado de Assis, and two others that are not our best, but the most known abroad. Quality should be the most important factor. I can't help but wonder if they did the same to other nationalities.
Livia Gerk
O livro traz uma excelente coletânea dos grandes autores da história. Apesar de um foco maior na literatura anglófila, foi possível "passear" por todos os cantos do planeta e conhecer um pouco das temáticas e preocupações de cada tempo e lugar. O detalhe que fez toda a diferença pra mim e que considerei um carinho especial foi o acréscimo na edição brasileira de 24 autores brasileiros que fizeram a diferença na nossa literatura.
Neil
An interesting, but not spectacular browse book. I love the big pictures of all the authors in question, and any list of great writers like this starts me jotting down new entries in the "to read" journal. However, the book seems to fail as it gets closer to the modern era, including too many folks for what seems like diversity issues or for being controversial rather than being writers who will truly hold up over time.
David Hilton
Each writer's life and work is summarized by a different contributor. Some are pretty good. Others are, well, ugh. But, this book was so much fun to read. It creates a hunger to read and so many specific books to go out there and grab. A reminder that we don't always need to lunge for newest, latest books. Great writers throughout history have left us a legacy.
Dianne Merridith
This is a good reference book or for dipping into to find new writers or books. I found the organization of the book by birth date of the author to be a bit confusing.
Robin
Great book! It introduced me to writers I have never heard of and books I can't wait to read.
Greg Converse
Read this book, read every book mentioned within. Forget GoodReads.
Bob
Fun reference.
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