Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Official List of the 100 Greatest Novels of All Time, henceforth to be known as My List.

The 100 Greatest Novels - The official Quest.

1. ★★★½  The Great Gatsby     by F. Scott Fitzgerald  (1925)
2. ★★★½  Nineteen Eighty-Four     by George Orwell (1948)
3. ★★★½  The Catcher in the Rye     by J. D. Salinger (1951)
4.   On the Road     by Jack Kerouac (1957)
5. ★★½  Ulysses     by James Joyce (1922)
6. ★★★½  Catch-22     by Joseph Heller (1961)
7. ★★★½  Animal Farm     by George Orwell (1946)
8. ★★★★★  The Grapes of Wrath     by John Steinbeck (1939)
9. ★★★  The Sound and the Fury     by William Faulkner (1929)
10. DNF  Lolita     by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
10. ★★★★★  Lord of the Flies     by William Golding (1955)
11. ★★★★  Invisible Man     by Ralph Ellison (1952)
12. ★★½  The Sun Also Rises     by Ernest Hemingway (1926)
13. ★★½  To the Lighthouse     by Virginia Woolf (1927)
14. ★★★  As I Lay Dying     by William Faulkner (1930)
15. ★★★½  Brave New World     by Aldous Huxley (1932)
16. ★★★★★  The Lord of the Rings +The Hobbit     by J.R.R. Tolkien (1954)
17. ★★★½  Slaughterhouse-Five     by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
18. ★★★★★  To Kill a Mockingbird     by Harper Lee (1960)
19. ★★★  A Clockwork Orange     by Anthony Burgess (1963)
20. ★★★  Heart of Darkness     by Joseph Conrad (1899)
21. ★★★½  One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest     by Ken Kessey (1962)
22. ★★★★  Brideshead Revisited     by Evelyn Waugh (1946)
23. ★★★★  Atonement     by Ian McEwan (2002)
24. ★★★★  Blood Meridian     by Cormac McCarthy (1986)
25. ★★★  Don Quixote     by Miguel de Cervantes (1620)
26. ★★★★  The Brothers Karamazov     by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1880)
27. ★★★★  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn     by Mark Twain (1884)
28. ★★★★½  Anna Karenina     by Leo Tolstoy (1877)
29. ★★★★★  Gone With the Wind     by Margaret Mitchell (1936)
30. ★★★  Moby Dick     by Herman Melville (1851)
31. ★★★★½  Jane Eyre     by Charlotte Brontë (1847)
32. ★★★  Under the Volcano     by Malcolm Lowry (1947)
33. ★★★  Wuthering Heights     by Emily Brontë (1847)
34. ★★★★  The Heart is a Lonely Hunter     by Carson McCullers (1940)
35. ★★★½  Madame Bovary     by Gustave Flaubert (1856)
36. ★★★½  A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man     by James Joyce (1916)
37. ★★★½  A Passage to India     by E. M. Forster (1924)
38. ★★★  One Hundred Years of Solitude
                       by Gabriel Garcia Márquez (1970)
39. ★★★½  Absalom, Absalom!     by William Faulkner (1936)
40. ★★★★  The French Lieutenant's Woman     by John Fowles (1969)
41. ★★★½  Frankenstein     by Mary Shelley (1818)
42. ★★★½  I, Claudius     by Robert Graves (1934)
43. ★★★★  Pale Fire     by Vladimir Nabokov (1962)
44. ★★★★  Nostromo     by Joseph Conrad (1904)
45. ★★★★  Emma     by Jane Austen (1816)
46. ★★★½  The Trial     by Franz Kafka (1925)
47. DNF  Gravity's Rainbow     by Thomas Pynchon (1973)
47. ★★★½  The Moviegoer     by Walker Percy (1961)
48. ★★★★½  Dune     by Frank Herbert (1965)
49. ★★★★  The Adventures of Augie March     by Saul Bellow (1953)
50. ★★★★★  David Copperfield     by Charles Dickens (1850)
51. DNF  Tropic of Cancer     by Henry Miller (1934)
51. ★★★  The Big Sleep     by Raymond Chandler (1939)
52. ★★★½  Of Human Bondage      by W. Somerset Maugham (1915)
53. ★★★★  Death Comes for the Archbishop     by Willa Cather (1927)
54. ★★★★  Beloved     by Toni Morrison (1987)
55. ★★★  The Day of the Locust     by Nathanael West (1939)
56. ★★★½  Lucky Jim     by Kingsley Amis (1954)
57. ★★★★  The Call of the Wild     by Jack London (1903)
58. ★★★★  The Scarlet Letter     by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)
59. ★★★  Mrs. Dalloway     by Virginia Woolf (1925)
60. ★★★½  Light in August     by William Faulkner (1932)
61. ★★★½  The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie     by Muriel Spark (1961)
62. ★★★½  A Farewell to Arms     by Ernest Hemingway (1929)
63. ★★★★  American Pastoral     by Philip Roth (1997)
64. ★★★  A Bend in the River     by V. S. Naipaul (1979)
65. ★★  Money     by Martin Amis (1984)
66. ★★★★  The Sheltering Sky     by Paul Bowles (1949)
67. ★★★★  Tom Jones     by Henry Fielding (1749)
68. ★★★★½  Pride and Prejudice     by Jane Austen (1813)
69. ★★★★  War and Peace     by Leo Tolstoy (1869)
70. ★★★★★  The Count of Monte Cristo     by Alexandre Dumas (1844)
71. ★★  The Ambassadors     by Henry James (1903)
72. ★★★★  An American Tragedy     by Theodore Dreiser (1925)
73. ★★★★½  Atlas Shrugged     by Ayn Rand (1957)
74. ★★★★  Great Expectations     by Charles Dickens (1861)
75. ★★★½  The Fountainhead     by Ayn Rand (1943)
76. ★★½  The Wings of the Dove     by Henry James (1902)
77. ★★★★½  Les Misérables     by Victor Hugo (1862)
78. ★★★★  Crime and Punishment     by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)
79★★★½  The Heart of the Matter     by Graham Greene (1948)
80★★★½  Appointment in Samarra     by John O’Hara (1934)
81. ★★★★½  Vanity Fair by William Thackeray (1848)
82. ★★  The Golden Bowl     by Henry James (1904)
83★★★½  The Portrait of a Lady     by Henry James (1881)
84★★★  Tristram Shandy     by Laurence Sterne (1759)
85★★★½  A Handful of Dust     by Evelyn Waugh (1934)
86. ★★★★  All the King's Men     by Robert Penn Warren (1946)
87. ★★★★  The Picture of Dorian Gray     by Oscar Wilde (1890)
88★★  The Good Soldier     by Ford Madox Ford (1915)
89. ★★★★  The Bridge of San Luis Rey     by Thornton Wilder (1927)
90. ★★★★★  The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (1956)
91. ½  Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust (1931)
92★★★½  The Charterhouse of Parma     by Stendhal (1839)
93. ★★★★  Go Tell it on the Mountain     by James Baldwin (1953)
94★★★½  U.S.A.   by John Dos Passos (1936)
95. ★★★★  Native Son     by Richard Wright (1940)
96. ★★★★½  Deliverance     by James Dickey (1970)
97. ★★★★½  The Stand     by Stephen King (1978)
98. ★★★★½  Little Women     by Louisa May Alcott (1869)
99★★★½  A Dance to the Music of Time   by Anthony Powell (1951)
100. ★★★★  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (1980)



  1. I just read The Bridge of San Luis Rey and it was really interesting. Welcome to the club!

    1. It'll be a while before I get to it, but I look forward to it. Thanks Arie!

  2. I think this list looks great! It'll take you a while to get through it, but I hope you enjoy it!

  3. So glad you included Atlas Shrugged. Best novel I've ever read!

    1. Shhhh....you shouldn't say things like that on the record. Apparently, reading Ayn Rand can ruin your political career.

    2. I have no qualms about it, Atlas Shrugged is one of the best books I've read as well. :-) I think you'll enjoy it as well.

    3. Or it could MAKE your political career ;)

  4. I was going to recommend the Classics Club to you as a way of inspiring or supporting you through your list of classics...but I see that Arie and you already know each other :-)

  5. In which I'm excited to see Little Women on your list. And yes, I can be a bit bossy, lol. Thanks for the words and the book recommendation! :-) I humbly recommend The Killer Angels to you.

  6. That's a long list! And from what I can tell you're following it in the order you've listed the titles, right? WoW.

    I glanced through the titles you've completed, and I found myself wanting to ask you what you thought of some of them...then I realised those were links to reviews. So, I shall be going through them slowly...and commenting. :D

    1. My quest is truly only the top 100, but I'll probably keep going whenever I complete that. Yes, I'm reading them in order. Thanks for the feedback.

  7. I am impressed! So ambitious. I will also be reading your reviews over time. Best of luck!!

    1. Thanks for the feedback Lynn. I look forward to comparing notes where we overlap, and getting a good recommendation on others.

  8. Wow! Way to go on the list! I'm impressed by its size :) Lots of great titles on here. Love to see some overlap between our lists. Looking forward to comparing how we like our classics in the future!

  9. What a wonderful list. Some I've read, some I want to read, most I haven't read. There's so many great books, right, :)

    I have read Catch 22 recently. I see you are a military man, and maybe because I'm not a military person, I enjoyed Catch 22. To me, it was a satire of life with the military background, but I can see how it can rub military people wrong. I'm always easier to be at least disappointed with a novel that makes satire of something very well known and dear to me.

  10. Keith C.
    I think that the second hundred of your long list is much better than the first one. I am baffled by the lack of Neal Stephenson's works however, and also Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Sherlock Holmes' creator.

  11. It's so nice to have a list of books to consider which ones I would choose, and which ones I have already read. I am fortunate to have read many in your list, and many, many more. I notice that your list does not contain much Science-fiction. Some of the finest modern writers are found in this field e.g. Neal Stephenson and L.E. Modesitt are two splendid examples. When you are ready to expand your reading range a little you might try them. I like the quote about a person who does not read only lives one life but a person who does lives a thousand. Enjoy your thousand lives. Regards, Keith.

    1. It isn't truly MY list...it is a composite of six different Greatest Novels list. I agree that Sci-Fi, is a bit neglected...as well as a few other genres.

  12. I am so intrigued by your list and your reading project! I am considering a similar list and project for my humble book-blogging efforts: http://theabbessofandalusia.blogspot.com/
    I am curious, though, about your 3 deletions; what is the story behind the deletions (but I think I might guess).
    In any case, now that I have stumbled upon your blog, which very much interests me, I look forward to revisiting often. Who knows! I might shadow your reading plan by falling into step behind you. All the best from a die-hard bibliophile on the Gulf coast . . . Tim

  13. Very ambitious. I'm coming back with a bit more time to see the list, and find ideas!

  14. I'm back... ha ha ha.
    Titles that pop up because I've loved them:
    Lord of the Flies, Catch 22, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Wuthering Heights, TO KILL A MOCKINBIRD, FOR SURE, Don Quijote, Middlemarch, THE MAKIOKA SISTERS!!!, Pilgrim's Progress, The Magic Mountain... and many you want to read and I do too.
    I'll be following your reviews. It's neat to find fellow readers.

    1. Thanks Silvia...yes, it's nice to compare notes with fellow readers. What intrigues me...there a few fellow readers (mostly connected through the Classics Club), that I have very similar views on most books...but then once in a while one pops up, that we feel entirely differently about. I like that though.

  15. Oh, you've got The Portrait of a Lady coming up! Interested in your thoughts. Also, LOOK THERE IS NARNIA. You will make it. :)

    1. Yep...and Little Women for good measure. That should make you happy.

  16. How strange not to be able to find Lolita, Gravity's Rainbow or Tropic of Cancer. Where were you looking? If you wanted to get them at the library, you could have done an interlibrary loan for them. Plenty of other libraries have copies available.

    One of the problems I have with lists like these are how...provincial they are. The focus is always on authors from a very small part of the world: America and the British Isles. Maybe a few Russian, French or German writers get a mention here or there, or a bone thrown to "exotic" cultures (Garcia-Marquez), but everywhere else known to have tremendous writers? A desert, and undeservedly so. Fifty-one percent of the entries here are American writers. Another 35% is from Britain. That means 86% of the authors are either American or English. If you throw in James Joyce as being of the British Isles, then the American-British tally inches up to 88% of the list.

    Scores of great writers hail from Scandinavia, Central/Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, Australia/New Zealand and Africa, but you'd never know it from these narrow-minded lists.

    And the diversity is shameful, to say the least. Only 6 authors are people of color, and only one of those is a woman of color. Only 12 of the authors are women. I see 1 openly gay writer, and 3 bisexuals. May be more of those. I'll admit that I don't know the full personal details of all of the writers.

    As it is, I don't get why the Western "literati" ignore works outside their own pathetic knowledge base while pumping up overrated filth like anything written by that hack Ayn Rand. Her garbage doesn't deserve to be anywhere near such a list, when one could have included Kawabata Yasunari, Gao Xingjian, Milan Kundera, Mario Vargas-Llosa, Knut Hamsun, Heinrich Boll... If anyone felt compelled to include the writing of a sociopathic arch-conservative as a great work, said list-maker could have called upon Mishima Yukio, and at least have read an author with genuine talent--and without the turgid verbosity. Ayn Rand could only hope to aspire to something as exquisite as Shiosai (The Sound of Waves).

    Most appalling of all: Western lists rarely include The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikabu. It's only the first known novel. You'd think it would get some love for that alone, but if that weren't enough, it deserves to be on the list because its impact on Japan is incalculable. No other book has defined an entire nation's culture and even its national psychology more than that one. You cannot understand Japan or the Japanese if you have not read Genji. It's that influential. Name any other book that can make that claim.

    I don't blame you for relying on the judgment of other people to compile your list, but the creators of all those lists you consulted aren't as well-read as they like to think. If they were, their "best of lists" would draw from the many gems out there in the rest of the world, or at least bother to try to find them, rather than being so culturally provincial--and arrogant about it to boot.

    Greatest books, my foot.

    1. Thank you for the feedback. You are correct, this list is undeniably biased toward the Western Canon. But the notion that because there are great works missing, that it renders the books that are on the list less noteworthy is simply untenable.

      I compiled this list by making a composite of six separate lists. (more about that processHERE) But it’s still an imperfect list. I wanted to use the official list of the 100 Greatest Novels, but sadly, no such list exists. How could it? There is no undisputed keeper of literature in the world, and personally I’m glad for that – so not really “sadly” at all. Every such list is subject to biases and opinions.

      I recognized the Western bias, or Anglo-Saxon leaning, or preference for English works – or however you care to categorize it – of this list and have made an effort to branch out. I’ve read China’s most acclaimed novel The Dream of the Red Chamber, as well the seminal Japanese classic The Tale of Genji. I’ll be honest; I didn’t care for either (felt the same about Don Quixote). I think any work suffers in translation, and as I understand it, Genji is an incredibly challenging work to translate. So, as I say, I think it suffered in translation. I still have classics of Asia, Africa, Oceania, South America, and Eastern Europe queued up, but I admit without embarrassment, that the preponderance of my reading will be of English works. I’m an English speaker – je parle en pue Francais. By the way, I’m a natural born U.S. citizen, and I’ve lived in Japan, the Netherlands, Italy, and Canada.

      As you point out, there is a lack of female authors here, but I don’t think it’s as simple as a bias against women. If someone sets about to compile a list of “the Greatest Novels”, they are naturally going to look to the classics (I acknowledge “Great Novel” and “Classic Novel” are not precisely the same thing, but I stand by the assertion, that “Greatest” lists, will be compiled predominantly from the classics.) It is unfortunate, but prior to the 20th Century, female authors – or would-be female authors – were not given equal opportunity as men. There was a bias then, but in compiling a list today it does not serve to pretend it was not so. Hopefully, in a couple hundred years the new lists will be more balanced.

      For the record, I did not omit Lolita, Tropic of Cancer, or Gravity’s Rainbow. I began reading each one, and decided for reasons that seemed good to me, to stop. I don’t want them banned or burned – I just don’t want to read them.

      Thanks again for the feedback. You certainly pored over the list and that makes me happy. And you've given me some new non-Western works to consider. :)


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