ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITER TOURNAMENT
A.) Tennessee Williams.
B.) Jack London.
C.) Henry James.
D.) Emily Dickinson.
A.) Kenneth Rexroth.
B.) Sylvia Plath.
C.) Edgar Allan Poe.
D.) John Steinbeck.
Not many surprises, I hope. Rexroth was not only a great poet and essayist, he mentored and influenced the Beats in San Francisco. I don't believe Ginsberg's "Howl" would've been possible without the example of Rexroth's "Thou Shalt Not Kill" before it.
With the rise of the feminist movement in the 1970's, and the publication of Plath's autobiographical novel The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath became something of a pop figure. But, the talent lives up to it. Not only did she master the elements of real poetry, rhythmns, euphony, symbols, but she added an intense insight and energy-- her personality-- to the words. As with Emily D's work, the best poetry is eternal.
Jack London? Possibly the best-known and loved American writer in the rest of the world. Few short story writers equalled his mastery of the form. None were better. Ya gotta also love his dog tales.
Tennessee Williams' plays remain potent and remembered. "Stella!"
Though he took American letters in the wrong direction, IMHO, the stuffy, overwritten, and the self-absorbed, Henry James had too much strong output overall for him to be ignored. Even some semi-pop stuff like "Daisy Miller" and "Turn of the Screw." My favorite James work is "Altar of the Dead." Perfect reading for the depressed!
Poe more-or-less invented the detective story and the horror genre, which we've been stuck with, for good and ill, since.
With such a tournament, the question is still who's been left out.