Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century by Le Monde

The 100 Books of the Century (French: Les cent livres du siècle) is a list of the one hundred best books of the 20th century, according to a poll conducted in the spring of 1999 by the French retailer Fnac and the Paris newspaper Le Monde. Starting from a preliminary list of 200 titles created by bookshops and journalists, 17,000 French voted by responding to the question, "Which books have stayed in your memory?" (« Quels livres sont restés dans votre mémoire ? »). The list of acclaimed titles mixes great novels with poetry and theatre, as well as the comic strip. The first fifty works on the list were the subject of an essay by Frédéric Beigbeder, The Last Inventory Before Liquidation, in which he notably drew attention to its French-centred character.

  1. 1. The Stranger by Albert Camus

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    Since it was first published in English, in 1946, Albert Camus's extraordinary first novel, The Stranger (L'Etranger), has had a profound impact on millions of American readers. Through this story ...


  2. 2. 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...


  3. 3. 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...


  4. 4. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    Since 1943, the wise little boy from Asteroid B-612 has led children and their adults to deeper understandings of love, friendship, and responsibility. The Little Prince is a cherished story, read ...

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  5. 5. Man's Fate by Andre Malraux

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  6. 6. Journey to the End of The Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline

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    Journey to the End of Night is the first novel of Louis-Ferdinand Céline. This semi-autobiographical work describes antihero Ferdinand Bardamu. His surname, Bardamu, is derived from the French word...


  7. 7. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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    Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on a poor family of sharecroppers, the Joads, driven from their home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agriculture industry. In a ...


  8. 8. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

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    It tells the story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to a communist guerilla unit during the Spanish Civil War. As an expert in the use of explosives, he is ...


  9. 9. The Wanderer by Henri Alain-Fournier

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    Le Grand Meaulnes is the only novel by French author Alain-Fournier. Fifteen-year-old François Seurel narrates the story of his relationship with seventeen-year-old Augustin Meaulnes as Meaulnes se...

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  10. 10. Froth on the daydream by Boris Vian

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    Froth on the Daydream (French: L'Écume des Jours) is a 1947 novel by the French author Boris Vian. It tells the story of a man who marries a woman, who develops an illness that can only be treated ...


  11. 11. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

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    The Second Sex (French: Le Deuxième Sexe, June 1949) is one of the best-known works of the French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir. It is a work on the treatment of women throughout history and of...


  12. 12. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

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    Waiting for Godot (pronounced /ˈɡɒdoʊ/) is a play by Samuel Beckett, in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait for someone named Godot. Godot's absence, as well as numerous other aspects...


  13. 13. Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology, sometimes subtitled A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, is a 1943 philosophical treatise by Jean-Paul Sartre. Its main purpose was to...


  14. 14. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

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    It is the year 1327. Franciscans in an Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, but Brother William of Baskerville’s investigation is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths. Translated by Will...

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  15. 15. The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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    The Gulag Archipelago is a book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn based on the Soviet forced labor and concentration camp system. The three-volume book is a massive narrative relying on eyewitness testimon...


  16. 16. Words by Jacques Prévert


  17. 17. Alcools by Guillaume Apollinaire

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    Guiilaume Apollinaire, a leading figure amongst the young writers and artists in France until his death in 1918, published 'Alcools', his first book of poems, in 1913. With its wide range of verse ...

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  18. 18. The Blue Lotus by Hergé

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    While Tintin is in India, he gets drawn into a dangerous mystery revolving around a madness-inducing poison. He traces the poison to Shanghai, and discovers a nefarious web of opium traffickers. Bu...

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  19. 19. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

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    The Diary of a Young Girl is a book based on the writings from a diary written by Anne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The...


  20. 20. Tristes Tropiques by Claude Levi-Strauss

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    A milestone in the study of culture from the father of structural anthropology. This watershed work records Claude Lévi-Strauss's search for "a human society reduced to its most basic expression." ...

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  21. 21. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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    Set in the London of AD 2540 (632 A.F. in the book), the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology and sleep-learning that combine to change society. The future society is an embod...


  22. 22. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

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    The story follows the life of one seemingly insignificant man, Winston Smith, a civil servant assigned the task of perpetuating the regime's propaganda by falsifying records and political literatur...


  23. 23. Asterix the Gaul by Rene Goscinny

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    When a Roman Centurion discovers the secret of Getafix's magic potion, Asterix has to intervene to save his druid friend. Simultaneous.

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  24. 24. The Bald Soprano by Eugène Ionesco

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    La Cantatrice Chauve (Romanian: Cântăreața Cheală) — translated from French as The Bald Soprano or The Bald Prima Donna — is the first play written by Romanian-French playwright Eugène Ionesco.


  25. 25. Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality by Sigmund Freud

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    Presents the renowned psychologist's ideas on sexual aberrations and the development and features of human sexuality during infancy and puberty

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  26. 26. The Abyss by Marguerite Yourcenar

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    The Abyss (French: L'Œuvre au noir) is a novel by the Belgian-French writer Marguerite Yourcenar. Its narrative centers on the life and death of Zeno, a physician, philosopher, scientist and alchem...


  27. 27. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

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    The book is internationally famous for its innovative style and infamous for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, middle aged Humbert Humbert, becomes obsessed and se...


  28. 28. 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...


  29. 29. The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati

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    Often Likened to Kafka's The Castle, this great Italian novel, first published in 1945, is both a scathing criticism of military life and a meditation on the human thirst for glory. It tells of you...


  30. 30. The Counterfeiters by André Gide

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    The Counterfeiters is a 1925 novel by French author André Gide, first published in Nouvelle Revue Française. With many characters and crisscrossing plotlines, its main theme is that of the original...


  31. 31. The Horseman on the Roof by Jean Giono

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    Perhaps no other of his novels better reveals Giono's perfect balance between lyricism and narrative, description and characterization, the epic and the particular, than The Horseman on the Roof. T...

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  32. 32. Belle du Seigneur by Albert Cohen

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    Belle du Seigneur has been called a hilarious mock-epic, an inventive satire of middle-class manners and ambition, a great comic achievement, Joycean, Proustian in its best moments. Its classic sta...

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  33. 33. 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...


  34. 34. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

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    The Sound and the Fury is set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County. The novel centers on the Compson family, former Southern aristocrats who are struggling to deal with the dissolution of their fa...


  35. 35. Thérèse Desqueyroux by François Mauriac

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    Francois Mauriac's masterpiece and one of the greatest Catholic novels, Therese Desqueyroux is the haunting story of an unhappily married young woman whose desperation drives her to thoughts of mur...

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  36. 36. Zazie in the Metro by Raymond Queneau

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    Impish, foul-mouthed Zazie arrives in Paris from the country to stay with Gabriel, her female-impersonator uncle. All she really wants to do is ride the metro, but finding it shut because of a stri...

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  37. 37. Confusion by Stefan Zweig

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    Upon hearing his rousing lecture, a college student grows close to his professor, and he becomes a regular visitor to the professor and his younger wife's apartment, where his teacher alternately e...

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  38. 38. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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    Gone With the Wind is set in Jonesboro and Atlanta, Georgia during the American Civil War and Reconstruction and follows the life of Scarlett O'Hara, the daughter of an Irish immigrant plantation o...


  39. 39. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence

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    Lyric and sensual, D.H. Lawrence's last novel is one of the major works of fiction of the twentieth century. Filled with scenes of intimate beauty, explores the emotions of a lonely woman trapped i...


  40. 40. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

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    The Magic Mountain is a novel by Thomas Mann, first published in November 1924. It is widely considered to be one of the most influential works of 20th century German literature.


  41. 41. Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan

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    Endearing, self-absorbed, seventeen-year-old Cécile is the very essence of untroubled amorality. Freed from the stifling constraints of boarding school, she joins her father—a handsome, still-young...

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  42. 42. Silence de la Mer by Vercors

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    This first bilingual edition of France's most enduring wartime novel introduces Vercors's famous tale to a generation without personal experience of World War II who may not be able to read it in i...

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  43. 43. Life, a User's Manual by Georges Perec

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    Over twenty years ago, Godine published the first English translation of Georges Perec's masterpiece, Life A User's Manual, hailed by the Times Literary Supplement, Boston Globe, and others as "one...

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  44. 44. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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    The Hound of the Baskervilles is a crime novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring the detective Sherlock Holmes. Originally serialized in the Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902, it ...


  45. 45. Under Satan's Sun by Georges Bernanos

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    This new translation marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of Georges Bernanos's first novel, Under Satan's Sun, a powerful account of intense spiritual struggle that reflects the author's deeply-fel...

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  46. 46. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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    The novel chronicles an era that Fitzgerald himself dubbed the "Jazz Age". Following the shock and chaos of World War I, American society enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity during the "roar...


  47. 47. The Joke by Milan Kundera

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    All too often, this brilliant novel of thwarted love and revenge miscarried has been read for its political implications. Now, a quarter century after The Joke was first published and several years...

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  48. 48. A Ghost at Noon by Alberto Moravia


  49. 49. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

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    Agatha Christie's ginius for detective fiction is unparalleled. Her worldwide popularity is phenomenal, her characters engaging, her plots spellbinding. No one knows the human heart—or the dark pas...

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  50. 50. Nadja by André Breton


  51. 51. Aurélien by Louis Aragon


  52. 52. The Satin Slipper by Paul Claudel

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    The Satin Slipper (Le Soulier de satin) is a long play by the French dramatist and poet Paul Claudel. It was written in 1929, but first performed on stage in 1943. Today it is rarely staged because...


  53. 53. Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello

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    Six Characters in Search of an Author (Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore) is the most famous and celebrated play by the Italian writer Luigi Pirandello. The play is a satirical tragicomedy. It was ...


  54. 54. The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht

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    Described by Brecht as 'a gangster play that would recall certain events familiar to us all', The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui is a witty and savage satire of the rise of Hitler – recast by Brech...

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  55. 55. Friday by Michel Tournier

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    Friday, winner of the 1967 Grand Prix du Roman of the Académie Française, is a sly, enchanting retelling of the legend of Robinson Crusoe by the man the New Yorker calls "France's best and probably...

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  56. 56. War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

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    When four Martian space ships land in England, masses of people flee the cities, driven by an overwhelming fear of the alien creatures devastating weapons of death and destruction. Excellently adap...


  57. 57. If This Is a Man by Primo Levi

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    If This Is a Man is a work of witness by the Italian author Primo Levi. It was influenced by his experiences in the concentration camp at Auschwitz during the Second World War. It can be described ...


  58. 58. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

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    The Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy novel written by philologist and Oxford University professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children'...


  59. 59. Tendrils of Vines by Colette

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    Tendrils of vines is a collection of news from Colette published in 1908 . Tendrils of vines brings new short biographical origin in which the author expresses his love for nature and the nostal...


  60. 60. Capital of Pain by Paul Éluard

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    Capital of Pain, is considered one of the key texts of surrealism. This is the first new translation into English of this work in over 30 years and the only edition available in the English languag...

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  61. 61. Martin Eden by Jack London

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    Moving tale of an ambitious young man who struggles hard to fulfil his dreams only to realize that they were just an illusion. The significance of this novel is enhanced by its autobiographical con...

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  62. 62. Ballad of the Salt Sea by Hugo Pratt


  63. 63. Writing Degree Zero by Roland Barthes

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    Is there any such thing as revolutionary literature? Can literature, in fact, be political at all? These are the questions Roland Barthes addresses in Writing Degree Zero, his first published book ...

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  64. 64. The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum by Heinrich Böll

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    The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, Or: How Violence Develops and Where It Can Lead was written by Heinrich Boll, one of Germany's most prolific postwar writers. Although Boll insisted that his char...

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  65. 65. The Opposing Shore by Julien Gracq

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    Aldo, a young aristocrat of Orsenna, becomes aware of the delicate balance that preserves the peace between Orsenna and Farghestan, who have, technically, been at war for three hundred years

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  66. 66. The Order of Things by Michel Foucault

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    In the work that established him as the most important French thinker since Sartre, Michel Foucault offers startling evidence that "man"—man as a subject of scientific knowledge—is at best a recent...

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  67. 67. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

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    On the Road is a largely autobiographical work that was based on the spontaneous road trips of Kerouac and his friends across mid-century America. It is often considered a defining work of the post...


  68. 68. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf

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    A selfish young boy learns humility when he is made small by an elf and flies on a long trip with wild geese.

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  69. 69. A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

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    A Room of One's Own is an extended essay by . First published during 24 October 1929, it was based on a series of lectures she delivered at Newnham College and Girton College, two women's colleges ...


  70. 70. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

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    Ray Bradbury's poignant and deeply insightful account of the attempts of humanity to colonize our nearest neighbour remains unmatched for its openness to the possibility of something new under the ...

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  71. 71. The Ravishing of Lol Stein by Marguerite Duras

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    The Ravishing of Lol Stein is a haunting early novel by the author of The Lover. Lol Stein is a beautiful young woman, securely married, settled in a comfortable life—and a voyeur. Returning with h...

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  72. 72. The Interrogation by J. M. G. Le Clezio

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    From the original Atheneum edition jacket, 1964. "J.M.G. Le Clézio, revelation of the literary year" ran the headline of the Paris Express after last year's prizes had been awarded. The Goncourt ju...

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  73. 73. Tropisms by Nathalie Sarraute

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    "Tropisms" are "movements of which we are hardly cognizant, [they] slip through us on the frontiers of consciousness in the form of undefinable, extremely rapid sensations. They hide behind our ges...

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  74. 74. The Journal of Jules Renard by Jules Renard

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    Spanning from 1887 to a month before his death in 1910, The Journal of Jules Renard is a unique autobiographical masterpiece that, though celebrated abroad and cited as a principle influence by wri...

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  75. 75. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

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    Conrad's great novel of guilt and redemption follows the first mate on board the Patna, a raw youth with dreams of heroism who, in an act of cowardice, abandons his ship. His unbearable guilt and i...


  76. 76. Écrits: The First Complete Edition in English by Jacques Lacan

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    Presents an English translation of Jacques Lacan's most famous work, with translations of all the papers featured in the original French edition.

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  77. 77. The Theater and Its Double by Antonin Artaud

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    A collection of manifestos originally published in 1938, in which the French artist and philosopher attacks conventional assumptions about the drama, and calls for the influx of irrational material...

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  78. 78. Manhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos

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    Considered by many to be John Dos Passos's greatest work, Manhattan Transfer is an "expressionistic picture of New York" (New York Times) in the 1920s that reveals the lives of wealthy power broker...

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  79. 79. Collected Fiction by Jorge Luis Borges

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    From his 1935 debut with The Universal History of Iniquity, through his immensely influential collections Ficciones and The Aleph, these enigmatic, elaborate, imaginative inventions display Borges'...


  80. 80. Moravagine by Blaise Cendrars

    Image of Moravagine

    At once truly appalling and appallingly funny, Blaise Cendrars's Moravagine bears comparison with Naked Lunch—except that it's a lot more entertaining to read. Heir to an immense aristocratic fortu...

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  81. 81. The General of the Dead Army by Ismail Kadare

    Image of The General of the Dead Army

    The General of the Dead Army is a 1963 novel by the Albanian writer Ismail Kadare. It is the author's most critically acclaimed novel.[1] It is noted that Kadare was encouraged to write the book fr...


  82. 82. Sophie's Choice by William Styron

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    It concerns a young American Southerner, an aspiring writer, who befriends the Jewish Nathan Landau and his beautiful lover Sophie, a Polish (but non-Jewish) survivor of the Nazi concentration camp...


  83. 83. Gypsy Ballads by Federico Garcia Lorca

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    The publication in 1928 of Romancero gitano (written 1921–27; Gypsy Ballads), a poetry sequence inspired by the traditional Spanish romance, or ballad, catapulted Lorca into the national spotlight.


  84. 84. The Strange Case of Peter the Lett by Georges Simenon

    Image of The Strange Case of Peter the Lett

    The Strange Case of Peter the Lett (1931) (French: Pietr-le-Letton), a detective novel by the Belgian writer Georges Simenon, is the very first novel to feature Inspector Jules Maigret who would la...


  85. 85. Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet

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    'Our Lady of the Flowers', which is often considered to be Genet's masterpiece, was written entirely in the solitude of a prison cell. the exceptional value of the work lies in its ambiguity.

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  86. 86. The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil

    Image of The Man Without Qualities

    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...


  87. 87. Furor and Mystery by René Char

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    Rene Char (1907-1988) was one of France's most respected 20th century poets. Part of the Surrealist group in the late 1920's-1930's, he gradually drifted away from the group. During WWII he joined ...

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  88. 88. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

    Image of The Catcher in the Rye

    The Catcher in the Rye is a 1945 novel by J. D. Salinger. Originally published for adults, the novel has become a common part of high school and college curricula throughout the English-speaking wo...


  89. 89. No Orchids for Miss Blandish by James Hadley Chase

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    When Dave Fenner is hired to solve the Blandish kidnapping, he knows the odds on finding the girl are against him - the cops are still looking for her three months after the ransom was paid. And th...

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  90. 90. Blake and Mortimer by Edgar P. Jacobs

    Image of Blake and Mortimer

    Blake and Mortimer is a Belgian comics series created by the Belgian writer and comics artist Edgar P. Jacobs. It was one of the first series to appear in the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Tintin ...

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  91. 91. The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke

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    This is the definitive, widely acclaimed translation of the major prose work of one of our century's greatest poets -- "a masterpiece like no other" (Elizabeth Hardwick) -- Rilke's only novel, extr...

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  92. 92. Second Thoughts by Michel Butor

    Image of Second Thoughts

    Second Thoughts (French: La Modification, 1957) is a novel by Michel Butor. It is the author's most famous work.

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  93. 93. The Burden of Our Time by Hannah Arendt


  94. 93. The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt

    Image of The Origins of Totalitarianism

    The Origins of Totalitarianism is a book by Hannah Arendt which classed Nazism and Stalinism as totalitarian movements. Its original title was to be 'The Burden of Our Times', and the move away fro...


  95. 94. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

    Image of The Master and Margarita

    The Master and Margarita (Russian: Ма́стер и Маргари́та) is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, woven around the premise of a visit by the Devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. Many critics consi...


  96. 95. The Rosy Crucifixion by Henry Miller

    Image of The Rosy Crucifixion

    Henry Miller's Rosy Crucifixion, his second major trilogy, took more than 10 years for the author to complete. Beginning in 1949 with Sexus, a work so controversial all of Paris was abuzz with L'Af...

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  97. 96. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

    Image of The Big Sleep

    The Big Sleep (1939) is a crime novel by Raymond Chandler, the first in his acclaimed series about hardboiled detective Philip Marlowe. The work has been adapted twice into film, once in 1946 and a...


  98. 97. Amers by Saint-John Perse

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  99. 98. Gaston by André Franquin

    Image of Gaston

    Gaston is a comic strip created in 1957 by the Belgian cartoonist André Franquin in the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Spirou. The series focuses on the every-day life of Gaston Lagaffe (whose surn...

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  100. 99. Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry

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    To describe his perennial theme, Lowry once borrowed the words of the critic Edmund Wilson: "the forces in man which cause him to be terrified of himself." You see exactly what he means in this cor...

    - Time

  101. 100. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

    Image of Midnight's Children

    Midnight's Children is a loose allegory for events in India both before and, primarily, after the independence and partition of India, which took place at midnight on 15 August 1947. The protagonis...