If one tried to construct the Temple of Literature from only the fifty “pillars” below, it would collapse spectacularly. Nevertheless, here is a contingent group of titles that, to paraphrase Christopher Higgs, if I hadn’t read and reread over the years, I wouldn’t be myself. How much that is worth, I’m not sure.
1) Djuna Barnes—Nightwood
2) Charles H. Kahn—The Art and Thought of Heraclitus (an edition of the fragments with commentary)
3) William Shakespeare—Sonnets, Tragedies, most of the Comedies . . .
4) Eileen Myles—Inferno, The Importance of Being Iceland.
5) Charlotte Brontë—Jane Eyre, Villette
6) Jane Austen—Emma, Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion
7) Marquis de Sade, 120 Days of Sodom, Julliette
8) Shoshana Felman, “Turning the Screw of Interpretation” (from Writing and Madness)
9) Herman Melville—Moby-Dick, Billy Budd, The Confidence Man, and the shorter works
10) Sir Thomas Browne—Urn Burial, Religio Medici, correspondence
11) Walter Pater—The Renaissance, Imaginary Portraits, “A Child in the House,” Marius the Epicurean