His two works, Iliad and Odyssey, taught me how to work in the adventure genre and the value of metaphor and simile as shorthand character description. So taken with his Odyssey, I translated it from Ancient Greek and annotated it fully.

Edgar Allan Poe

The master of the detective short story, Poe's fiction and poetry are lessons in the psychological twists of man. 
Favorites: "The Murders of Rue Morgue", The Raven, and "The Tell-Tale Heart"
Alexandre Dumas

Dumas taught me the intricate in-depth plotting that is needed to write the adventure story and that even though one is working in the adventure field, one can also provide insight into the condition of man.
Favorites: The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Christo (Read them in French, if you can, as they are much better.)
Honoré de Balzac

Balzac is the master of psychological depiction and group and societal dynamics and realism. 
Favorites: Old Father Goriot and Eugénie Grandet and his great short piece La Duchess de Langeais
Franz Kafka

Kafka is the master of silence and the horror of the human imagination and soul.
His is a modernist and a beginner of the movement in magical realism that influenced such writers as the Nobelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Carlos Fuentes. He focues upon the apparent feeling hopelessness and the absurd found in the human condition. He taught me restraint.
Favorites: The Castle and The Trial
James Joyce

Joyce's work in the stream-of-consciousness gives the reader a sense of the immediacy of the moment. His attention to detail and the influences upon a man's thinking were invaluable to me. You could rebuild Dublin from his work Ulysses if Dublin were suddenly destroyed. His Finnegans Wake, though, is a masterpiece that could well involve a student of literature for the rest of his life and it wouldn't be a life wasted.
Favorites: In addition to the above, The Dead
Virginia Woolf

Woolf is one of the greatest innovators in the English language. In her works she experimented underlying psychological as well as emotional motives of characters, and the various possibilities of fractured narrative and chronology. She pushed the English language "a little further against the dark," and her literary achievements and creativity are influential even today.
Favorite Works: To the Lighthouse, Mrs Dalloway, and The Waves

Charles Dickens

One of the greatest social commentators who also wrote about the need for the anarchy of the human spirit and soul. 
Favorites: The Old Curiousity Shop, A Tale of Two Cities, and Bleak House
Miguel de Cervantes

A novelist, poet, and playwright, he was one of the most important and influential persons in literaturel and the leading figure associated with the cultural flourishing of sixteenth century Spain. Cervantes, Carlos Fuentes rightfully noted, "Cervantes leaves open the pages of a book where the reader knows himself to be written."
The Book: Don Quixote
William Faulkner

Faulkner taught me the value of symbolism, allegory, the use of multiple narrators, shifting points of view, non-linear narrative and emphasized the technique of stream-of-consciousness I learned from Joyce and Woolf.  His experimental style with meticulous attention to diction and cadence was invaluable.
Favorites: The Sound and the Fury, Light In August, and Sanctuary

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