Robert McCrum's top 10 books of the twentieth century by The Guardian

Robert McCrum is The Observer's literary editor and the author of, among other books, My Year Off. This is a list of this top 10 books of the twentieth century.

  1. 1. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

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    Swann's Way, the first part of A la recherche de temps perdu, Marcel Proust's seven-part cycle, was published in 1913. In it, Proust introduces the themes that run through the entire work. The narr...


  2. 2. Ulysses by James Joyce

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    Ulysses chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublin during an ordinary day, June 16, 1904. The title parallels and alludes to Odysseus (Latinised into Ulysses), the hero of Homer's Odyss...


  3. 3. The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil

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    The Man without Qualities (1930-42) is a novel in three books by the Austrian novelist and essayist Robert Musil. The main issue of this "story of ideas", which takes place in the time of the Au...


  4. 4. The Trial by Franz Kafka

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    Written in 1914, The Trial is one of the most important novels of the twentieth century: the terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and mu...


  5. 5. Murphy by Samuel Beckett

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    Edited by J. C. C. Mays Murphy, Samuel Beckett's first novel, was published in 1938. Its work-shy eponymous hero, adrift in London, realises that desire can never be satisfied and withdraws from li...

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  6. 6. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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    One of the 20th century's enduring works, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a widely beloved and acclaimed novel known throughout the world, and the ultimate achievement in a Nobel Prize–winning car...


  7. 7. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford

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    Ford Madox Ford wrote The Good Soldier, the book on which his reputation most surely rests, in deliberate emulation of the nineteenth-century French novels he so admired. In this way he was able to...


  8. 8. The Tin Drum by Günter Grass

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    Acclaimed as the greatest German novel written since the end of World War II, The Tin Drum is the autobiography of thirty-year-old Oskar Matzerath, who has lived through the long Nazi nightmare and...


  9. 9. A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul

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    In the "brilliant novel" ("The New York Times) V.S. Naipaul takes us deeply into the life of one man--an Indian who, uprooted by the bloody tides of Third World history, has come to live in an isol...


  10. 10. Nostromo by Joseph Conrad

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    Edited with an introduction and notes by Martin Seymour-Smith. In his evocation of the republic of Costaguana, set amid the exotic and grandiose scenery of South America, Conrad reveals not only th...