Thursday, February 9, 2012

100 Best Novels

Modern Library has two side-by-side lists of the 100 greatest novels of all time. One is put together by the editors and one is put together by the readers.

I put together in chronological order the editors list. And well over half appear to be drunk perverts slogging through life completely self-absorbed. A daunting task to read so many such books. The editors list starts chronologically with Joseph Conrad in 1899.

I started ordering chronologically the readers list and was halted by the fact the top 10 novels included three--one of those three being a nine-book-series--by L. Ron Hubbard and four by Ayn Rand! The other three were Lord of the Rings, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Very weird sampling of people to make up the readers of Modern library!

But back to the editors list. I get the impression that reading about suffering seems to be the way to understand literature! Perhaps it's the way that the author presents it that is the jewel. That voice. Those idioms.

So after I finish reading all of the novels in Nabokov's "Lectures on Literature" I will begin reading the editors' list in chronological order. Starting with Joseph Conrad. But then I'll have to do some preliminary Joseph Conrad reading--follow his thread of influence back and start with that. Then go from there. I wonder if I'll make it to the decade of the 1970's... 1960s? I might have to skip some of the books in the first half of the century. The 1930s seem to be especially profuse!

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