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The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History

Updated April 6, 2019 7.7k votes 1.7k voters 30.1k views34 items

List RulesVote up the authors whose next book should be an apology letter.

No matter how brilliant or groundbreaking or bro-appealing a piece of literature may be, it fails to make up for the pretentious authors behind them. The most pretentious writers of the world, despite their ways with written words, fail terribly when it comes to opening their mouths, usually because their foot is in the way. Many authors who are douches retain any semblance of literary cred only due to the equally douchey masses who praise their often overrated books. Relying heavily gimmicks or "their own personal style" instead of true substance, numerous douchey writers give off an air of trying to be deep (read this back-and-forth between Natalie Portman and Jonathan Safran Foer to get an idea).

The annoying writers of this list frustrate the world for a number of reasons. Some actively embodied the term "hypocrite," taking support from the very systems their works admonished (hello, welfare recipient Ayn Rand). Others simply ride the coattails of their past works to remain relevant, unable to understand no one's actually read American Psycho. But what unites all these writers are their acolytes, who will stop their fixed-gear bikes to tell you "Well, actually," your negative opinion of their books is wrong. Never mind them though, for you know the truth: that Walden pond was nowhere near the wildnerness.

  • 1
    Ayn Rand is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    Ayn Rand

    Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead
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  • 2
    Salman Rushdie is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    Salman Rushdie

    The Satanic Verses, Midnight's Children
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  • 3
    Thomas Pynchon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    Thomas Pynchon

    Gravity's Rainbow, The Crying of Lot 49
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  • 4
    Dan Brown is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    147

    Dan Brown

    The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons
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  • 5
    Jonathan Franzen is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    Jonathan Franzen

    The Corrections, The Twenty-Seventh City
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  • 6
    David Foster Wallace is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    87

    David Foster Wallace

    Infinite Jest, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
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  • 7
    Bret Easton Ellis is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    80

    Bret Easton Ellis

    American Psycho, Less Than Zero
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  • 8
    Jonathan Lethem is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    25

    Jonathan Lethem

    Motherless Brooklyn, Kafka Americana
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  • 9
    Jonathan Safran Foer is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    58

    Jonathan Safran Foer

    Everything is Illuminated, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
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  • 10
    Norman Mailer is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    Norman Mailer

    The Naked and the Dead, The Executioner's Song
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  • 11
    James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    James Joyce

    Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
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  • 12
    Don DeLillo is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    49

    Don DeLillo

    White Noise, Underworld
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  • 13
    Jack Kerouac is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    Jack Kerouac

    On the Road, The Dharma Bums
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  • 14
    J. D. Salinger is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    J. D. Salinger

    The Catcher in the Rye, Franny and Zooey
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  • 15
    Nathaniel Hawthorne is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    Nathaniel Hawthorne

    The Scarlet Letter, The Blithedale Romance
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  • 16
    Erich Segal is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
    2
    1

    Erich Segal

    Man, Woman and Child
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  • 17
    Philip Roth is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    Philip Roth

    American Pastoral, Portnoy's Complaint
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  • 18
    Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    Charles Bukowski

    Post Office, Ham on Rye
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  • 19
    John Updike is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    55

    John Updike

    Rabbit, Run
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  • 20
    Miranda July is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
    48
    35

    Miranda July

    No One Belongs Here More Than You, Learning to Love You More
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  • 21
    Henry David Thoreau is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
    130
    131

    Henry David Thoreau

    Walden, Civil Disobedience
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  • 22
    Dave Eggers is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    Dave Eggers

    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, What Is the What
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  • 23
    Michael Chabon is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
    54
    44

    Michael Chabon

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Wonder Boys
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  • 24
    Joe Meno is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    51

    Joe Meno

    BrickJournal Compendium Volume 1, Demons in the Spring
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  • 25
    Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History
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    208

    Ernest Hemingway

    The Old Man and the Sea, A Farewell to Arms
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