He’s not the only one.
Some enterprising soul has posted on the Internet “Machine translation or Faulkner?” — a quiz asking you to deduce whether quotations are computer-translated text from the German or samples of Mr. Faulkner’s prose.
Experimentalism — successful or not — has often counted highly in making a literary reputation. But there are signs that literary modernism — a stream to which misters Hemingway and Faulkner, in particular, and Mr. Fitzgerald, to a lesser degree, belonged — is not aging well.
“The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books,” a new book edited by J. Peder Zane, contains a top-10 list with votes from 125 writers. The closest thing to a modernist book on the list is Mr. Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” (James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” often a mainstay of such projects, was nowhere to be found.)
Frank Wilson, Philadelphia Inquirer book editor, even questioned Mr. Fitzgerald’s inclusion: “It approaches formal perfection but has never struck me as especially profound.”
Misters Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Faulkner might have had more influence on American letters — though Mr. Hemingway’s lean style easily lends itself to parody. But that only confirms one of our central premises — that they’ve had more attention. It’s hard to influence budding writers when they haven’t read you — or even heard of you.
The women’s influence is gaining. Mr. Page says it’s pretty much impossible to write about New York artists without thinking about Miss Powell.
Her novel “A Time to Be Born,” begins, “This was no time to cry over one broken heart.” Misses Powell, Wharton and Cather did more in their books than just tell the tale of one broken heart. They explored the heart of a nation with the best of them.
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