(The Observer in 2003) The 100 greatest novels of all time

See what you make of the list especially in terms of works you think should have been there but are not curretnly on the list.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, History

9 comments on “(The Observer in 2003) The 100 greatest novels of all time

  1. APB says:

    Ben Hurr may or may not be in the top 100 novels, but it is certainly belongs in the top 50 of that list.

  2. David Keller says:

    Good thing he included Jude the Obscure, because it fits right in with about 1/2 of his choices–obscure. I’d have thrown in The Moviegoer (by Walker Percy), The Sun Also Rises, Absalom, Absalom The Naked and the Dead, To Have and Have Not, From Here to Enernity, Tropic of Cancer, Lord Jim, The Red Badge of Courage, The Call of the Wild, Ben Hur, Dr. Zhivago, The Hobbit, The Good Earth; I’m sure there are others I am not thinking of at the moment.

  3. Kendall Harmon says:

    I think a case can be made for CS Lewis’ The Great Divorce to be included. Based on what Peter Kreeft said at the recent Mere Anglicanism conference, The Abolition of Man is another possible list name.

  4. Pb says:

    How about The Sound and the Fury, The Grapes of Wrath, and Gone With the Wind?

  5. David Keller says:

    I just realized War and Peace isn’t on his list!

  6. Karen B. says:

    I was surprised how many of these I haven’t heard of (especially towards the end of the list) given how much I read.

    I was surprised too that David Copperfield is the Dickens’ work included. I would have expected A Tale of Two Cities or Great Expectations.

    Would have liked to see Anne of Green Gables on the list. Also Little House on the Prairie. Sure they’re “children’s books” but since Charlotte’s Web very deservedly made the list, these should have too. (Naturally the list tends to be British-centric, with fewer works from North America.)

    I was surprised how high Vanity Fair ranked. I found it way too long and tough going when I read it in college. It seems like one of those classics everyone is supposed to admire and rave about, but I didn’t think it lived up to its reputation. (I keep thinking I may revisit it sometime to see if I appreciate it any more now than I did 30 years ago.)

    Shocked at the absence of Victor Hugo – neither the Hunchback of Notre Dame or Les Mis on the list?!?!? SHOCKING.

    Never heard of the Hemingway work listed. I would definitely have chosen the Old Man and the Sea.

    Tough call between Animal Farm and 1984. They went with 1984. I think Animal Farm perhaps more important and influential. Truly both deserved a listing, but it seems only 1 work per author. Fair enough.

    Sad there is nothing by CS Lewis. (The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe would have been the obvious choice, but perhaps Screwtape Letters or the Great Divorce would have been even better picks).

    Among modern novels, I might have included Watership Down.
    Also what about Alice in Wonderland….?!?!

    No mysteries on the list. Thought there might be an Agatha Christie (And then there were none), or Dorothy Sayers (My favorites would be Murder must Advertise or Strong Poison). I guess they’re not highbrow enough!

  7. Karen B. says:

    By the way, there’s also a list of 1000 great books (fiction) here

    That list is divided into categories, and I found it overall a much more useful list that the 100 book list because of the split by genre. With this list, I have a handy list of great comedies, or crime/mystery novels, or love & family novels, etc. So, if I’m in the mood to read a comedy, I’ve got a nice list to browse and explore, including multiple works by some authors. It’s also a nice mix of “classic” and modern. So Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers make this list, for instance!

  8. David Keller says:

    I was is discussing this post with my wife and realized that most of the books I listed above are war novels. This guy has an obvious bias. There are no novels about war or the military anywhere on this list.

  9. wildfire says:

    I agree with Don Quixote as number one, but what struck me is how provincial or Anglo-centric this list is. Dostoevsky at number 29?

    I have my own “canon within the canon”: works that one does not stop reading but reads and re-reads all one’s life. Most of these are not novels: Homer; the Greek playwrights; the Socratic dialogues; the Aeneid; Dante; Don Quixote; Goethe’s Faust. I have wondered whether anyone after Goethe should be added to my list. Dostoevsky is the one writer I have wondered about in terms of lasting influence.

    The Observer list makes the New Yorker view of the world seem broad-minded.