Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The 100 best novels?

These lists can always be counted on to tickle some people and annoy others, but here from the critics at Time Magazine are the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present. They're in alphabetical order.

Why 1923? Because that's when Time began publishing (which means Ulysses, which came out the previous year, didn't qualify for the list). Critic Richard Lacayo explains how the books were chosen and adds:

Lists like this one have two purposes. One is to instruct. The other of course is to enrage. We're bracing ourselves for the e-mails that start out: "You moron! You pathetic bourgeoise insect! How could you have left off...(insert title here)." We say Mrs. Dalloway. You say Mrs. Bridge. We say Naked Lunch. You say Breakfast at Tiffanys. Let's call the whole thing off? Just the opposite—bring it on. Sometimes judgment is best formed under fire. But please, no e-mails about Ulysses. Rules are rules.

Managing Editor James Kelly has this to say:

I know the list will spark lots of discussions, but I hope it also sends you back to books you read with pleasure years ago as well as to books that you may not have heard of.

Absolutely. Take a look at the list and then tell us what you think. What's missing? What's on the list that shouldn't be?


Mirtika said...

What? They left out The Da Vinci Code? (huge snort and guffaw!)


I just want to say I nearly plotzed when I saw my link on your sidebar. I feel like popping chocolates into your mouth in appreciation. :)

Mir--who is about to burst from eating "comfort" stress foods, and the chocolate may not last through the storm watches. Uh-uh.

Brenda Coulter said...

I feel like popping chocolates into your mouth in appreciation.

That's the kind of impulse you should always obey. ;-)

Hey, you be sure to batten down all those hatches there in Miami and stay safe, all right?

Small Blue Thing said...

The title is surely wrong, isn't it?

Shouldn´t it be THE BEST ENGLISH-LANGUAGE NOVELS? ejem, ehem...



Julana said...

I want to know how many of these you have read?

Brenda Coulter said...

I was afraid somebody was going to ask that, Julana. I've never been very interested in modern fiction, which accounts for the fact that out of those 100 "best books" I have read are really going to be shocked...and I'll be shocked if anyone out there has read fewer books than...


No, that is not a typo. Push the list back a hundred years, and the authors and titles would be a lot more familiar to me!

Julana said...

I knew there was something I liked about you. :-)
My number wouldn't be high, either, and I have an MA in English. :-)

pacatrue said...

Well, I made it to 8. Apparently, I read the wrong Faulkner. The sad part is I think 6 of them were assigned reading, which means I'm not reading at all. Maybe one day.

Brenda Coulter said...

Pacatrue, you're quite a bit younger than me. I'm sure you'll catch up soon. ;-)

Julana, you made me take the time to go over that list and count on my fingers, yet you're not willing to do that, yourself? How fair is that? ;-)

Julana said...

My dear friend,
I have read 16 for sure, and maybe 18. I have started half a dozen more, and failed to persist to the end.
(I have read several books by Faulkner and Didion, but can't remember which ones.)
I have read about many of these, and have no desire to read them. I, like you, preferred the 19th century, when I had more time and more brain cells than at present. :-)

Heather Diane Tipton said...

LOL I probably shouldn't admit this... I've read two of them... I think. I have vague memories of two anyhow.