It isn’t difficult to find a recommended list of authors you should read or have read. Everyone acknowledges the literary importance of authors such as Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Faulkner, Proust, Goethe, Flaubert, Dante, Cervantes, Eliot, Dickens. But so many of these authors have been normalized in press and education that they, even when most successful, tend to inhabit the most hackneyed regions of our collective memory.
As an aging member of the university study of literature which adhered to the precepts of the (then) new criticism with potent demiurges the likes of F. R. Leavis, William Empson, Harold Bloom, and Frank Kermode, I worshipped the works of those giants of literature. But looking back I see that my education tended to direct me down the avenue of the acceptable canon and I missed a lot of stimulating reading through the years.