This Is My Best Author:Whit Burnett (Editor) In this book, ninety-three American authors have chosen the particular work of their own that is closest to their heart. Thus while THIS IS MY BEST is an anthology, it is more than the simple personal preference of any one man, which is the usual anthology --it is a book by the leading living authors in America, each one of whom has, in a sense,... more » "edited" his entire lifetime output to select the one unit which in his own, uninfluenced opinion represents him at his best creative moment. It is a book without precedent in America: a book composed over many years, the focussing of many lifetime viewpoints, a public revelation of the private opinions of our best authors on how they look upon themselves, and what, in their writings, they most value.
For the choice of the authors, the editor gratefully acknowledges, at the very outset, the help of the public. The names of 169 representative authors were sent in ballot form to many readers of books and magazines. Polls were taken among subscribers of The Atlantic Monthly, Harpers' Magazine, and The New Yorker, and ballots were sent to librarians, literary critics and persons professionally connected with reading, writing, teaching or publishing. These individuals were asked to vote on those living American authors they deemed most fitted to be included in THIS IS MY BEST. The response was serious, intelligent, discriminating. And while the editor has not followed slavishly the results of the voting, he has been guided immeasurably by this response. It is interesting to note that on the first fifty authors receiving the most votes for inclusion, the editor, public and publishers were all in agreement.
In a book so essentially the work of many, any long comment by one editor must seem superfluous. It was the editor's job to get in touch with the authors -- no mean task in wartime -- and, once the authors were picked, to let them have free rein. And if the editor has had a rewarding time, with seemingly nothing to do but gather in the pieces, he seems to have had even less fun in the job than the authors themselves. An author is an author: he is familiar with his own work; why didn't someone think of asking him before? They were, in general, delighted. For this was the first time in their time as authors, been asked.« less