11/06/2009

55 Unfinished Works by Great Authors

It shouldn't be startling to learn that most great writers left behind unfinished works upon their deaths; what would be startling is if they didn't.  I've always supposed storytelling to be more of a vocation than a career: those called to it don't stop creating stories just because death is pending. 

All the recent articles about the impending publication of Nabakov's The Original of Laura started me wondering what other great authors' works have been left unfinished - whether due to death, writer's block, or disinterest.  Following is the list I have culled from about 40 different sources, all of which appeared reputable (but who really knows)?  Some, presumably, were abandoned for good reason: in some way, they did not live up to the author's standards or vision.  Others, however, tantalize, leaving us to forever wonder what the author might have made of them.

Perhaps when I have more time I'll post a companion list of authors who did not leave unfinished works, which is some ways even more intriguing.  (Did so prolific a writer as Emily Bronte really write nothing between 1846 and her death in 1848?)
  1. Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica
  2. Austin, Jane. Sanditon; The Watsons
  3. Bronte, Charlotte. Ashworth; The Moores; The Story of Willie Ellin; Emma
  4. Byron, Lord George Gordon. Don Juan
  5. Camus, Albert. The First Man
  6. Capote, Truman. Answered Prayers
  7. Chandler, Raymond. Poodle Springs
  8. Chaucer, Geoffrey. Canterbury Tales. (Only 24 of the 124 Tales were finished)
  9. Coleridge, Samuel. Cristabel; Kubla Kahn
  10. Collins, Wilkie. Blind Love
  11. Dickens, Charles. The Mystery of Edwin Drood
  12. Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Netochka Nezvanova
  13. Dumas, Alexander. The Last Napoleon
  14. Ellison, Ralph. Juneteenth (aka Three Days Before the Shooting)
  15. Faulkner, William. Elmer
  16. Flaubert, Gustave. Bouvard and Pecuchet
  17. Fitzgerald, F. Scott.  The Last Tycoon
  18. Forster, E.M. Arctic Summer
  19. Frank, Anne. Diary of a Young Girl
  20. Greene, Graham. The Empty Chair
  21. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Dolliver Romance; Septimium Felton; The Ancestral Footstep; Dr. Grimshawe's Secret
  22. Hemingway, Ernest. The Garden of Eden
  23. Hugo, Victor. Les Jumeaux (prose); Dieu (poetry); La Fin de Satan (poetry)
  24. James, Henry. The Ivory Tower; The Sense of Place
  25. Joyce, James. Stephen Hero; Giocama Joyce
  26. Kafka, Franz. The Trial; The Castle; Amerika
  27. Kerouac, Jack. The Sea is My Brother
  28. Lewis, CS. The Dark Tower; The Man Born Blind
  29. Marlowe, Christopher.  Hero and Leander
  30. Melville, Herman. Billy Budd
  31. Nabakov, Vladimir.  The Original of Laura
  32. O'Brian, Patrick. (published as) The Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey
  33. Orwell, George. The Quick and the Dead; A Smoking-Room Story
  34. Plath, Sylvia. Double Exposure
  35. Poe, Edgar Allen. The Journal of Julius Rodman (serial prose)
  36. Salinger, J.D. (Too soon to know; executors of his estate have hinted that he may have left up to 15 unfinished works)
  37. Sayers, Dorothy.  Thrones, Dominations
  38. Shakespeare, William. Love's Labours Won (Controversial: may just have been an alternative title for The Taming of the Shrew)
  39. Spenser. The Fairie Queene
  40. Steinbeck, John. The Acts of King Arthur and His Nobel Knights (a retranslation of Le Morte d'Arthur)
  41. Stevenson, Robert Lewis.  Weir of Hermiston
  42. Styron, William. The Way of the Warrior
  43. Swift, Jonathan. The Legion Club
  44. Thucydides. The History of the Peloponnesian Wars
  45. Tolkien, J.R.R. The Silmarillion
  46. Tolstoy, Leo. The Light That Shines in Darkness
  47. Twain, Mark.  The Mysterious Stranger
  48. Thucydides.  The History of the Pelopennesian Wars
  49. Verne, Jules. Voyages D'Etudes
  50. Vonnegut, Kurt. Look at the Birdie (short stories)
  51. Wallace, David Foster. The Pale King
  52. Wharton, Edith.  The Buccaneers
  53. Wilde, Oscar. A Wife's Tragedy (drama)
  54. Wodehouse, P.G. Sunset at Blandings
  55. Wordsworth, William. The Recluse

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