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Everyone has a favorite author or two. For me, Lewis Carroll was an author during the time of an industrial sweep throughout England. Jane Austen was a woman who lived in a period of growing economic wealth. Both of these authors lived in times where attitudes and educational standards were changing.
But when it comes time for writers to pursue a style of writing, most copy their favorite author they have had as a child or as a budding writer in the midst of discovery. I'm here to list a few authors whose style are great influences on the literary world for future writers.
Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
We know this man who brought us books like Hunchback of Notre Dame, which Disney made into a movie during our childhood and the infamous Les Misérables, which had Wolverine and Mia Thermopolis perform in beautiful harmony. But not everyone likes his writing style.
Shmoop is a website that helps understand complicated authors and their plots. Besides buying Cliff Notes or reading modern English Shakespeare on Spark Notes, many English majors use Shmoop to understand major literary plots and sub-plots in classical novels (great way to remember notes from earlier in the year that might turn up on the final exam). Not only is Shmoop useful in understanding literature from the classics, but also dives into the authors' life as well as literary influences throughout their own history too.
Hugo was a politician for a short while, but he also was an artist. Hugo's writing style was more to the empirical approach (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008). This means Hugo provides evidence to his characters and then uses it to back up the journey the character undergoes throughout the story. However, if there is no evidence on a character in his novel, then Hugo passes no judgment on his character and moves on with the plot.
If you want to delve into a writing style that is rational and scientific, with small amounts of descriptive information, this writing style is difficult to produce, but it is very easy to master with practice.
Mark Twain (1835-1910)
The name Mark Twain was penned by a man known as Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He was a publisher as a lecturer whose sole characters become as real as our imagination. Effectively, his work lives on inside every generation, you could be five or 50 and remember the antics of Tom Sawyer.
A website titled eNotes, which connects writing and literature experts, teacher's answers and student's questions for English homework, says that Twain's style of writing that is both humorist and satirical is something every modern author has imitated. But they are not to be considered copying the original because the most famous thing about Twain's work was the use of local dialects based on the region in which Twain got to know some of the people who inspired his characters in his novels. As a linguist, he loved recording and collecting the way people from Virginia, Minnesota, and Philadelphia often spoke (eNotes, 2009).
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)
A true feminist to the very end, Woolf is one of the earliest essayist and critics that pushed boundaries to their limits. The mind of the human being, either reader or writer or somewhere in between, was more fascinating than their personalities and emotions they use in everyday interaction. She often used forms of psychosis or conscious thought to push her readers in a more harsh reality than a reality-based around one particular character.
Virginia Woolf uses something known as conscious thought streaming within her own writing. This is common in some of her novels such as Mrs. Dalloway or A Room of One's Own. Her written works still draw attention as a modern marvel of artists during the 20th century. According to Shmoop's biography of this modern feminist, she not only worked on publishing her own novels, but she also made her own publishing company with her husband to push modern writing and literary ideas (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008). One of the highest feminist inspired writing was her home-schooled education since she was not allowed to pursue education outside the home based on her economic status (Remember this is early 1900s Britain, not 21st century Britain where rich kids get into Oxford based on their social class).
Although there might not be a favorite Woolf work I have in mind, her writing style can sometimes contain vulgar disinterest in those readers who were not from her own social class. This can be seen in some of her novels like Mrs. Dalloway where she criticizes the middle class and immigrants seeking refuge after WWI. Her viewpoints of German immigrants is also most distasteful. It was still rare in modern times that women of higher social status would seek personal income for themselves, but Virginia sought to fight for freedom and independence from social stigmata.
While the literary icon died at 59 from suicide, her life has been quoted from one of her iconic works of art A Room of One's Own as being:
"When I rummage in my own mind I find no noble sentiments about being companions and equals and influencing the world to higher ends. I find myself saying briefly and prosaically that it is much more important to be oneself than anything else." —Virginia Woolf
Anchee Min (1957-Present)
Anchee Min is an author who used her own memories during the Chinese Cultural Revolution to inspire her stories about change, survival, and political practice of communism.
At a young age, Min was part of the Little Red Guards and was forced to report her favorite teacher who was not fond of the newly established Mao policies. She was then forced to work in a camp where she injured herself badly due to the terrible conditions the workers were left within the camp. She had a small fling with another person inside the camp and was then emigrating to the United States when she was a little older. One of the biggest problems she had moving to the United States was the way in which she came here, not learning English, and learned how to speak English via children television shows.
Min writes in a more historic sense of authority. She writes based on personal reflections and uses her history and her memories to create and develop the way in which she tells her readers some of the hardships she endured as a child. The only difference between her memories and fictional dramas based in history is that some of them are based on real people and others are created as pieces of her.
Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008, November 11). Les Misérables Writing Style. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://www.shmoop.com/les-miserables/writing-style.html
Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008, November 11). Virginia Woolf: Biography. Retrieved December 27, 2018, from https://www.shmoop.com/virginia-woolf/biography.html
"What elements are unique to Mark Twain's style? How could you identify a passage as Mark Twain if it were unidentified? Thanks!" eNotes, 27 June 2009, https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-elements-unique-mark-twains-style-how-could-90233. Accessed 2 Jan. 2019.