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    100 Best Novels in English...?

    Discuss:

    I haven't read the whole piece yet, but if Moby Dick and the Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists isn't there, there'll be trouble...
    Robert McCrum has reached a verdict on his selection of the 100 greatest novels written in English. Take a look at his list
    Sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times I can barely see.
    Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it’s been.

    #2
    I took against English Literature at school. I hated The Mayor Of Casterbridge and the other stuff crammed down our throats.

    Since then I've tried unsuccessfully to read some on that list like Moby Dick (a quarter at most) and Dracula (about three quarters but just put it down and couldn't raise the interest to finish it) and one or two more.

    I've got Catch 22 and Catcher In The Rye but they've been on my pile for years.

    I'm still a reader, but not in the classic literature vein.

    I would recommend Tolkien, Kim Stanley Robinson Mars trilogy and the Revelation Space series by Alastair Reynolds amongst others.

    I was enjoying the Song Of Ice And Fire novels by George RR Martin until they stopped. Maybe I'll get around to watching the TV show sometime.

    RelayerI - perpetually teenaged in his reading choices...

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by RelayerI View Post
      I took against English Literature at school. I hated The Mayor Of Casterbridge and the other stuff crammed down our throats.

      Since then I've tried unsuccessfully to read some on that list like Moby Dick (a quarter at most) and Dracula (about three quarters but just put it down and couldn't raise the interest to finish it) and one or two more.

      I've got Catch 22 and Catcher In The Rye but they've been on my pile for years.

      I'm still a reader, but not in the classic literature vein.

      I would recommend Tolkien, Kim Stanley Robinson Mars trilogy and the Revelation Space series by Alastair Reynolds amongst others.

      I was enjoying the Song Of Ice And Fire novels by George RR Martin until they stopped. Maybe I'll get around to watching the TV show sometime.

      RelayerI - perpetually teenaged in his reading choices...
      I was lucky in having some great English teachers from my first year at highschool. One of them gave me a copy of War of the World's when I was 11, probably trying to get me off Enid Blyton. I dived into more HG Wells and Jules Verne after that, then Asimov, Clarke, Moorcock, CS Lewis & Tolkien, et al., by the time I was 13 or 14. The same teacher gave me a life-ling love for Shakespeare too. I owe him a lot.
      I remember reading Lord of the Flies and Cider With Rosie at highschool, and then Wuthering Heights and The Return of the Native for CSE, and I loved them, still re-read the Bröntes and Hardy. By my early 20s I'd discovered much more 19C literature which, working on the shop floor operating machinery, got me a lot of pisstaking. But there was also Herman Hesse, the Beat Poets, the Romantic/Lake Poets, loads of science fiction and fantasy, absolutely loved Mervyn Peake.
      Still working my way through Anthony Trollope, Wilkie Collins, Dickens (not a favourite), George Eliot, as well as French literature, Zola, Balzac, etc.
      If I had to pick a favourite classic novel, it would be a choice between Dracula, Moby Dick, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and The Moonstone.
      Sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times I can barely see.
      Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it’s been.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Ash Armstrong View Post
        Discuss:

        I haven't read the whole piece yet, but if Moby Dick and the Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists isn't there, there'll be trouble...
        I am getting the Guardian's news headlines. Where is the 100 best novels?
        Last edited by alex peters; 10-22-2022, 07:50 AM.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Ash Armstrong View Post

          I was lucky in having some great English teachers from my first year at highschool. One of them gave me a copy of War of the World's when I was 11, probably trying to get me off Enid Blyton. I dived into more HG Wells and Jules Verne after that, then Asimov, Clarke, Moorcock, CS Lewis & Tolkien, et al., by the time I was 13 or 14. The same teacher gave me a life-ling love for Shakespeare too. I owe him a lot.
          We have similar backgrounds as to our early reading. All those Sci-Fi novelists were like candy. I was also quite impressed with Frank Herbert's Dune.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by alex peters View Post

            I am getting the Guardian's news headlines. Where is the 100 best novels?
            The article is from 2015, and there are already lots of comments and rebuttals and reader suggestions on the Guardian's site… As lists go, it's pretty safe, and canonical, but whatever, as long as people are reading. I find the earlier entries the most interesting, as the novel is developing its form in the first place (and, although the article is pretty clear on this, it's worth repeating, "novel in English", there are many other languages and cultures doing similar things with writing during and before these times). But I do always pause a little with lists/headlines like this, to ask "best… at what?"

            Comment


              #7
              Call me populist, cliche, whatever, but....

              The Lord of the Rings

              Comment


                #8
                Anglophonic so no Zola, Kazantsakis, Rabelais, Calvino, Soltzenitsan, Tolstoy, Cervantes and Samuel Beckett who wrote novels and plays originally in French, to better make his work more direct and succinct.

                Apart from Swift, early entries are unknown to me. Early Melville, yes. A long novel rewards application as it becomes an epic journey in itself.

                While some novels are just a joy. Zorba the Greek. For example.

                Voss by Patrick White has a cinematic flashback appeal. Surprised it has never been made into a film. Werner Herzog should have done it as it tells a mad story about an obsessive German explorer in outback Australia. My fave White? The Vivisector. About a painter.

                Am intrigued about The Floatin' World and it's unreliable narrator. In this post-truth world, unreliable narrators are so hot right now.

                Sure Harry Potters are fun, inventive and charmin'.

                Passage to India, I recommended to my sister who is goin' on a river cruise soon down the BrahminPutra river above Kolkata.

                So the lists do the usual suspects. The more obscure ones from earlier times do intrigue.

                Read vikin' novels. Then Bond. Then Bony detective books. Christie. At school read Koestler's Darkness at Noon. The first serious one. Made me sad. Then all Steinbeck . Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea. Only that one.

                Have a soft spot for RL Stevenson. As he visited Sydney. Fiji. I've actually married well as my wife is due to inherit a sugarcane farm in Fiji.

                Also Melville as he also visited down here. The South Pacific as a whaler. My fave? Typee. A polynesian love story.
                Last edited by Gilly Goodness; 10-22-2022, 05:10 PM.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Both my degrees are literature-related, so I've been educated in the canon. Doesn't mean I'm wholly into it but I've got a tolerance for most things, lol. I consider myself widely-read. I've always had a love for genre fiction, but I also enjoy more literary-minded works as well.

                  I've probably read at least 65% of this list. It skews a bit Brit Lit but I suppose that's to be expected.
                  Rabin-esque
                  my labor of love (and obsessive research)
                  rabinesque.blogspot.com

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by pianozach View Post

                    We have similar backgrounds as to our early reading. All those Sci-Fi novelists were like candy. I was also quite impressed with Frank Herbert's Dune.
                    Despite being pretty SF and fantasy friendly I wasn't blown away by Dune for some reason. I never bothered with any of his sequels.

                    The recent movie was pretty good, but I wish they'd kept the Floyd soundtrack.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by RelayerI View Post

                      Despite being pretty SF and fantasy friendly I wasn't blown away by Dune for some reason. I never bothered with any of his sequels.

                      The recent movie was pretty good, but I wish they'd kept the Floyd soundtrack.
                      I re-read Dune about 5 years ago for the first time since the late 70s, and it was a bit of a chore to finish it. Just my palate's changed over time I suppose, though I re-read Asimov's Foundation sequence during lockdown and thoroughly enjoyed it. I've not seen any of the TV adaptation.
                      Sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times I can barely see.
                      Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it’s been.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Ash Armstrong View Post

                        I re-read Dune about 5 years ago for the first time since the late 70s, and it was a bit of a chore to finish it. Just my palate's changed over time I suppose, though I re-read Asimov's Foundation sequence during lockdown and thoroughly enjoyed it. I've not seen any of the TV adaptation.
                        I first read Dune in high school, I think, and was quite blown away by it. I've read it perhaps twice more, though not at all recently, and continue to be impressed by the world-building. However, it is the somewhat depressing opening volume of a very depressing series, so it's not a saga I retain much interest in. Which is preferable: to live under the autocratic rule of a human dictator or the autocratic rule of a machine dictator? That said, I was excited for the Villeneuve adaptation and will definitely watch whatever sequels he shoots. He's a great filmmaker.

                        I first read Asimov's Foundation books sometime in the 1980s. The much vaunted and revered original trilogy, while containing interesting ideas, is almost unreadable to me now. Except for the fact that it's set in the far future in a galactic empire, you can pretty much imagine all the characters wearing dated business suits and horn-rimmed glasses, and smoking. It's very much an artifact of the times in which it was written, the 1940s and 1950s. I much prefer the sequels and prequels that he wrote in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I greatly enjoyed the first season of the Foundation TV show on Apple TV+. The show runner likes to call it a "remix" of Foundation, as they are not sticking strictly to the books, but are mixing and matching plot points as they please, and introducing new elements, too. I'd say the first episode of it felt 50% Asimov, 50% invention, while the second episode felt about 95% invention. Later episodes fell somewhere along the spectrum in between. As long as they can get across the basic story, I'm fine with most of the changes they are making. The only thing that concerns me is that while they have complete rights to the Foundation books, they have no rights to the Robot novels...and several of the major characters in the Foundation books are stealth carry-overs from the Robot books. They have been forced to retool them as semi-new characters. Anyway, I'll be very interested to see where it all goes. Asimov never finished the book series, being interrupted by death, but left notes on where he meant to go. The show has rights to those notes and may go there, if they get the 8 seasons they say they need to tell the story. They got renewed for their second season well before the first season ended, so apparently Apple is pleased with the response to the show. No official release date for Season 2 has been announced yet, though it is expected for early 2023. Filming has already wrapped but post-production takes a while. I must say, the look of the show is stunning. If someone were to say to me, imagine the entire gestalt of "Science Fiction" given form and brought to life on the screen, what would it look like? My answer would be, the Foundation TV series.

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                          #13
                          I continue to love the original Dune series even now, but yeah, I read the Foundation trilogy when I was a teenager and I don't know how I would feel about it now. I seem to recall I read the two books which came after, but I don't recall if I read the prequels.
                          Rabin-esque
                          my labor of love (and obsessive research)
                          rabinesque.blogspot.com

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by luna65 View Post
                            Both my degrees are literature-related, so I've been educated in the canon. Doesn't mean I'm wholly into it but I've got a tolerance for most things, lol. I consider myself widely-read. I've always had a love for genre fiction, but I also enjoy more literary-minded works as well.

                            I've probably read at least 65% of this list. It skews a bit Brit Lit but I suppose that's to be expected.
                            I can appreciate the canon, or at least the "idea" of the canon, hopefully without succumbing to the idea that anyone must have read __% of it to be considered "educated"… The simple fact is that the number of books published only gets larger, but human lifespan much less so, and with only so many hours in the day and so many new books published every year, you can't feel guilty about the stuff you miss (my wife gives me guff about completely missing the British Victorians, but I claim I just took a different course in 18th & 19th century North American literature, so no, we didn't read Dickens, but we read Twain, Whitman, Dickinson plus a load of non-traditional materials in the mix). And I like genre fiction too, much of which has great strengths, but sometimes the weaknesses become more obvious (for instance, I gave up on The Expanse, as I thought the world building extraordinary, and some of the characters interesting, but at the level of actual, you know, sentence writing, well, they should have hired a writer…)

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Right - I don't care what people have or haven't read unless they're discussing literary history or some such (which will prove what they don't know).
                              Rabin-esque
                              my labor of love (and obsessive research)
                              rabinesque.blogspot.com

                              Comment

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