This grew out of a discussion on the "controversial opinions" thread. We'd gotten sidetracked into a discussion on our favorite/the greatest authors, and it left off with my being asked why I liked Shakespeare, Dickens, Homer, and Virgil. It almost goes without saying why I like Shakespeare, nearly everyone who can read likes him. First of all, his influence is enormous, and his plays are still being performed today, in both original and reimagined settings. His insight into the human condition is profound, and his tragedies provoke some of the deepest emotions possible. The fall of Macbeth and Hamlet are beautiful. His command of the English language is second to none; his monologues are breathtaking (to be or not to be, Marc Antony's speech at Caesar's funeral, Macbeth's tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow), not to mention the mention the many common expressions in the English language that can be traced to his writings. He had a fine gift for comedy, which is sadly lost to many modern readers because of changes in the language.
Dickens doesn't quite have Shakespeare's depth, but he makes up for it with his intricate plotlines and captivating characters. His influence is great too, with A Christmas Carol standing as an inspiration for much of the modern celebrations of Christmas. Despite its fame, A Christmas Carol is not his best offering. I personally like Great Expectations the best, but all of his novels, from A Tale of Two Cities to Bleak House have something to offer.
Homer and Virgil are both classical epic poets, and I'm more familiar with Virgil, so I'll focus on him. While his epic isn't as well known as Homer's two, he's still brilliant. The very form of his words on the page is beautiful, even if one doesn't speak Latin. The Aeneid probably isn't quite up to the standards of the Iliad or the Odyssey, but the story of Aeneas is still one of the classical world's greatest works. Like Shakespeare, he wrote many shorter poems, many of which are contained in the Eclogues and the Georgics.
What are your favorite authors and works, MI6Community, and why?