5 dead authors who would have made great bloggers

One of the few things I dislike about living in the 21st century is that most of my favorite authors are dead. I can dig up their letters and autobiographies, but I sometimes want to know them more intimately. And there’s only a limited amount of material with which I can get to know these writers. Because they’re long past, they’ll always be a mystery. (Unless I get a TARDIS; then all bets are off.)

But there are five authors in particular I wish could have lived in this era and thus had more of a chance to get to know.

1)      George Eliot

I’ll actually admit right now that I’m not the biggest fan of Eliot’s. I tried to read one of her novels once, became thoroughly bored within the first few pages, and never went back. But my father swears by Adam Bede and Silas Marner, and since he generally has good taste in literature, I’m sure there’s probably some merit or other to her fiction, even if I can’t see it. 

But this essay of hers is enough to convince me that Eliot would have been one of the most entertaining bloggers to hit the Internet, had she been alive during the right era.

For those who don’t have time to read the essay (which admittedly is rather long), “Silly Novels by Lady Novelists” is one of the most vicious snarks on popular and insubstantial fiction that I’ve ever read. Check out these excerpts from her essay:

On the heroines of bad novels- “We have often met with women much more novel and profound in their observations than Laura Gay, but rarely with any so inopportunely long-winded.”

On the writers- “It is clear that they write in elegant boudoirs, with violet-coloured silk and a ruby pen; that they must be entirely indifferent to publishers accounts and inexperienced in every form of poverty except poverty of brains.”

I can only imagine what Eliot would have had to say about authors like Laurell K. Hamilton, Stephenie Meyer, or Terry Goodkind. It wouldn’t have been pretty, but I would have read the hell out of it, and it makes me sad she’s not around to do it.

2)      Mark Twain

I feel like Mark Twain’s blog would be a hotbed of controversy and argument. He’d update often and he wouldn’t be shy at all about stating his opinions on everything, whether it was politics, fans, fellow writers, religion, sex, all of which would cause huge uproar. Vocal people on either side of the issue would weigh in. There would be much discussion and everything from earnest debate to open insults. Judging from his verbal flaying of Fenimore Cooper, he would have been the kind of person who reveled in the internet and its capacity to fall into total insanity in the span of a millisecond. Given that Twain himself had many distinctive and controversial views of his own on topics ranging from emancipation to religion, his personal blog would cover everything under the sun, spawning a thousand arguments along the way. His writing would be equally distinctive, though less overtly personal, and he would probably get nominated for several awards and become renowned for controversial acceptance speeches.

3)      Jane Austen

Austen’s blog would be a blast to read, and I would eagerly be checking for updates pretty much every time I had access to a computer. She would attend various literary conventions and do gently mocking write-ups of those who had attended. I think she probably would have greatly enjoyed (and probably worked on) stories and scripts with similar qualities to Enchanted and The Princess Bride. Austen also would have made a huge name for herself by writing either a full-on satire of the prevalence of vampire romance or writing one that explored all of the actual nightmarish implications those series tend to forget. She’d probably write a few short novels on how women nearly lose their true chances for romantic happiness by expecting a superhero to come and sweep them off their feet, but have things work out in the end. All her parodies would have a certain level of amusement, if not affection.

On the side of blogging and fiction, she’d probably have a column that slanted toward humor with satirical slants. She would be the kind of person who gets reblogged, re-tweeted, and generally sent along to other folks. I have a feeling Austen would have found social media amusing and somewhat ridiculous, though she would know full well how to make use of it. Overall she would have a good time on the Internet, but it wouldn’t dominate her life. And she would love her work immensely.

4)      J.R.R Tolkien

This is sort of cheating, as I don’t think Tolkien would actually have had much of a blog. He’d post occasional updates on holidays and whatnot, but it wouldn’t be terribly frequent. However, I think his website on his books would be one of the best of any author’s site. Just checking out what fans have been able to do with his material is enough to convince that had Tolkien been around for the internet, he would have arranged for huge lexicons on the languages, histories, and geography of his world, similar to those of the Twilight and Harry Potter lexicons. The difference would be that his would be entirely official. He might add some tips on his site on how to build a good fantasy world and culture, and probably would have done his best to be nice to fans, despite the fact that it would be a bit of a burden.

5)      George Orwell

When I told my dad that I was writing this blog post, his immediate reaction was “Orwell would have been fantastic.” I hadn’t thought about Orwell before that, but my dad was right (as he is more often then I like to admit). Orwell’s extensive world travelling and correspondence on various conditions and conflicts would have made for some of the best blog posts imaginable. When I was in high school, my English class read his “Shooting An Elephant,” and while I remember liking the essay itself, my teacher gave us a quote of his that has stuck with me ever since: “Good prose is like a window pane.”

That small sentence has done more to form the way I write than any writing book, article, or guide. Whenever I write anything, somewhere in the back of my mind I’m trying to make the prose completely clear, so clear that the reader has no choice but to see the images and occurrences I’m trying to present.

Orwell’s blog, I think, would be one of the most useful and enjoyable to read for a writer. He would be honest, present his arguments clearly, and would demonstrate through his articles and stories on the state of the world what that good writing would be. I don’t know that I’d always agree with his views, but I would love reading about them for how well they were presented. His blog would be one of my favorites, if only it were around to follow.

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13 thoughts on “5 dead authors who would have made great bloggers

  1. I love the twist you’ve put on this! Most people would have just blogged about the dead authors but the best blog part of it makes it much more interesting. I have to say I think Austen’s would be the best, her wit would certainly make an interesting read!
    I’m actually quite suprized you didn’t add Shakespeare to these, especially as it’s his anniversary today I think? Don’t quote me on that though. Also I know you’re a fan. I’m curious, was there a perticular reason you left him out?

    • When i was making this post, I was trying to think of writers who had a history of having a lot to say outside just their writing. Shakespeare was clearly a fantastic writer, but I don’t know enough about him or his personality to know whether or not he’d be into the social media scene as a blogger. My gut tells me he’d probably be a screenwriter or director, but I don’t know if he would do much blogging. That’s the main reason I didn’t put him on there- he’s rather a mysterious figure when it comes to his life outside the theater.

      I’m glad you liked the post! Austen would be the best at this, I think. She was so socially conscious that if she lived in this day and age, she’d know exactly how to use social media to her advantage- and probably make fun of it while doing it 🙂 it would be awesome.

      • Ahh I see, that makes perfect sense. I think he would make a fantastic screenwriter!
        I must admit I would love to be able to follow J.R.R Tolkien’s blog too, although like you I don’t necessarily think he would be good at it or would update it often.

        • Yeah… blogging wouldn’t really be his thing. But I think he’d have a hugely detailed website on ME in all its glory. And since he apparently was very nice to his fans, I feel like he would have answered as many questions as he could via web. It would be fun- and I would read what he blogged even if he didn’t post often. I’m sure it would be good stuff.

  2. A very enjoyable piece. I’ve loved reading this. And I have to agree – there is just something about our past authors that would make them brilliant bloggers. Especially George Orwell 🙂

    • Orwell’s blog would probably have been one of my haunts. He could write about pretty much anything in the most skilled way imaginable, and he had a lot of good things to say about the art of writing (ie “Politics and the English Language”). He also would have been up in current events and would have been able to dwell on those in a way that was eye-opening. It’s such a shame he’s not around for that…

      • No I suppose not. But at least his work which is still around, is very eye-opening. Though, possibly, another author such as himself could be born from such “eye-opening” writings. You never know…

        • His work is fantastic- 1984 and Animal Farm are the ones everyone knows, and with really good reason. But his essays were good too, and his whole life was fascinating. I hope we can get another Orwell at some point and time, but I honestly feel like his work was something very deeply intertwined with his experiences. And the time he lived in is probably not going to replicated again any time soon.

  3. Awesome post! I would definately be following Jane Austen and Mark Twain’s blogs. You can’t beat either of those authors witty, sarcastic remarks.

    • Thank you! And I would too. Hell, I’d follow all of them. But yeah, Austen and Twain would be spectacular. It would be so much fun to see Mark Twain’s tweets, for instance… and a Jane Austen blog would be really amusing and addictive. Not to mention well-written 🙂

  4. Pingback: Thoughts on ‘Guilty Pleasures’ | I Could Be Arguing In My Spare Time

  5. I love this ~ following these writers would be so much fun. Though I honestly don’t remember much about Orwell and I don’t know if I’ve ever read anything by Eliot, from what you’ve said, they sound like they’d be very good reads. I know I’d definitely follow Tolkein, Twain, and Austen! I feel like G.K. Chesterton would have made some great posts, too.

    • Eliot’s essays are more fun than her fiction, I think (which is really weird, normally it’s completely the other way around). Orwell can write a mean essay and he’s not a bad fiction writer on top of it- 1984 still ranks as one of the freakiest things I’ve read to date. But yeah, Tolkien, Twain, and Austen would be so much fun- and holy crap, you’re right. Chesterton would have been amazing.

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