Who Wielded the Most Literary Influence?

From “Dickens, Austen and Twain, Through a Digital Lens,” (hat tip friend V)

Any list of the leading novelists of the 19th century, writing in English, would almost surely include Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Mark Twain.

But they do not appear at the top of a list of the most influential writers of their time. Instead, a recent study has found, Jane Austen, author of “Pride and Prejudice, “ and Sir Walter Scott, the creator of “Ivanhoe,” had the greatest effect on other authors, in terms of writing style and themes.

Numbers aren’t everything, but I find it interesting to ponder that Austen and Scott–reductively romance and adventure, hers and his–come out, literary DNA-wise, as the progenitors.

Also, how awkward is the punctuation of the article’s title, given the NYT choice not to use the Oxford comma? Perhaps only we copyeditors (copy editors?) would care or notice.

One Response to “Who Wielded the Most Literary Influence?”

  1. Amy Says:

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Oxford comma. It’s the best way to avoid confusion. So simple.

    I gave a presentation to a client recently about grammar, punctuation, and basics of writing. As an example of why I love the Oxford comma, I used this fake book dedication:

    “I dedicate this book with love to my parents, Kim Kardashian and God.”