D. G. Myers’ 50 Greatest English Language Novels by D. G. Myers

D. G. Myers’, critic and literary historian’s 50 Greatest English Language Novels. A critic and literary historian for nearly a quarter of a century at Texas A&M and Ohio State.

  1. 1. 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...


  2. 2. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

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    The story centres on Isabel Archer, an attractive American whom circumstances have brought to Europe. Isabel refuses the offer of marriage to an English peer and to a bulldog-like New Englander, to...


  3. 3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

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    Revered by all of the town's children and dreaded by all of its mothers, Huckleberry Finn is indisputably the most appealing child-hero in American literature. Unlike the tall-tale, idyllic worl...


  4. 4. 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...


  5. 5. 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...


  6. 6. My Antonia by Willa Cather

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    In Willa Cather's own estimation, My Antonia, first published in 1918, was "the best thing I've ever done." An enduring paperback bestseller on Houghton Mifflin's literary list, this hauntingly elo...


  7. 7. American Pastoral by Philip Roth

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    American Pastoral is a Philip Roth novel concerning Seymour "Swede" Levov, a Jewish-American businessman and former high school athlete from Newark, New Jersey. Levov's happy and conventional upper...


  8. 8. Mr. Sammler's Planet by Saul Bellow

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    Mr. Artur Sammler, Holocaust survivor, intellectual, and occasional lecturer at Columbia University in 1960s New York City, is a "registrar of madness," a refined and civilized being caught among p...


  9. 9. Howards End by E. M. Forster

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    "Only Connect," Forster's key aphorism, informs this novel about an English country house, Howards End, and its influence on the lives of the wealthy and materialistic Wilcoxes; the cultured, ideal...


  10. 10. 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...


  11. 11. The Wife of Martin Guerre by Janet Lewis

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    The Wife of Martin Guerre (first published 1941) is a short novel by an American writer Janet Lewis based on the story of Martin Guerre, the 16th century peasant who apparently returned home to his...


  12. 12. The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad

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    In a corrupt London underworld of criminals, terrorists, and fanatics, Mr. Verloc is assigned to plant a bomb. The tragic repercussions for his family show how Conrad's ironic voice is concerned no...


  13. 13. 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...


  14. 14. A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh

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    In A Handful of Dust Waugh satirises the upper class, the mercantile class and the establishments (for example: the Church) using many effective literary devices which characterise most of his work...


  15. 15. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

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    In 1895 Hardy’s final novel, the great tale of Jude the Obscure, sent shock waves of indignation rolling across Victorian England. Hardy had dared to write frankly about sexuality and to indict the...


  16. 16. Light in August by William Faulkner

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    Lght in August is an exploration of racial conflict in the society of the Southern United States.


  17. 17. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

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    The Age of Innocence centers on an upperclass couple's impending marriage, and the introduction of a scandalous woman whose presence threatens their happiness. Though the novel questions the assump...


  18. 18. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

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    Set sometime around 1950, Lucky Jim follows the exploits of the eponymous James (Jim) Dixon, a reluctant Medieval history lecturer at an unnamed provincial English university. Having made a bad fir...


  19. 19. The Siege of Krishnapur by J. G. Farrell

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    The Siege of Krishnapur is a novel by the author J. G. Farrell, published in 1973. Inspired by events such as the sieges of Cawnpore and Lucknow, the book details the siege of a fictional Indian t...


  20. 20. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

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    The novel addresses many of the social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans in the early twentieth century, including black nationalism, the relationship between black identity and Marx...


  21. 21. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

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    The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven high fantasy novels by author C.S. Lewis. It is considered a classic of children's literature and is the author's best-known work, having sold over 100...


  22. 22. A Mirror for Witches by Esther Forbes

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    A Mirror for Witches in which is reflected the life, machinations and death of famous Doll Bilby, who, with a more than feminine perversity, preferred a demon to a mortal lover. Here is also told h...

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  23. 23. Call It Sleep by Henry Roth

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    Call It Sleep is the story of an Austrian-Jewish immigrant family in New York in the early part of the twentieth century. Six-year-old David Schearl has a close and loving relationship with his mot...


  24. 24. The Soul of Kindness by Elizabeth Taylor

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    ' "Here I am!" Flora called to Richard as she went downstairs. For a second, Meg felt disloyalty. It occurred to her of a sudden that Flora was always saying that, and that it was in the tone of on...

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  25. 25. Less Than Angels by Barbara Pym

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    This classic novel holds the mirror up to human nature and the battle between the sexes as it explores the love lives of a group of anthropologists Catherine Oliphant writes for women’s magazines a...

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  26. 26. The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen

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    The Death of the Heart is a 1938 novel by Elizabeth Bowen set between the two world wars. It is about a sixteen year old orphan, Portia Quayne, who moves to London to live with her half-brother Tho...


  27. 27. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

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    A slender novel but far from flimsy, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie enrolls the reader at Edinburgh's fictional Marcia Blaine School for Girls under the tutelage of one Jean Brodie, a magnetic, unco...

    - Time

  28. 28. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

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    The novel explores the lives and values of the so-called "Lost Generation," chronicling the experiences of Jake Barnes and several acquaintances on their pilgrimage to Pamplona for the annual San F...


  29. 29. The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene

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    The Heart of the Matter deals with Catholicism and moral change in the protagonist, Scobie (a police officer). Greene was a British intelligence officer stationed in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He drew...


  30. 30. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

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    Gilead is a novel written by Marilynne Robinson and published in 2004. It won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award. The novel is the fictional auto...


  31. 31. Pictures At A Revolution by Mark Harris


  32. 32. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

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    The Red Badge of Courage is an 1895 war novel by American author Stephen Crane. It is considered one of the most influential works in American literature. The novel, a depiction on the cruelty of t...


  33. 33. 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

  34. 34. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence

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    Perhaps no other of the world’s great writers lived and wrote with the passionate intensity of D. H. Lawrence. And perhaps no other of his books so explores the mysteries between men and women–both...


  35. 35. Lady into Fox by David Garnett

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    A husband and wife venture outdoors for a walk in the Oxfordshire woodlands when the woman is suddenly, unaccountably, and irrevocably transformed into a fox. This simply told modern folktale offer...

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  36. 36. Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood

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    Isherwood's classic story of Berlin in the 1930s - and the inspiration for Cabaret - now in a stand-alone edition. First published in 1934, Goodbye to Berlin has been popularized on stage and scree...

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  37. 37. I, Claudius by Robert Graves

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    I, Claudius deals sympathetically with the life of the Roman Emperor Claudius and cynically with the history of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar's assassination in 44...


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

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    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...


  39. 39. The Flight from the Enchanter by Iris Murdoch

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    An enigmatic publisher’s sway on a circle of friends drives each to confront their most dangerous obsessions Businessman Mischa Fox has wealth, charisma, and an uncanny ability to influence those a...

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  40. 40. Eustace and Hilda by L.P. Hartley

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    The three books gathered together as Eustace and Hilda explore a brother and sister’s lifelong relationship. Hilda, the older child, is both self-sacrificing and domineering, as puritanical as she ...

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  41. 41. Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

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    Wise Blood, Flannery O'Connor's astonishing and haunting first novel, is a classic of twentieth-century literature. It is the story of Hazel Motes, a twenty-two-year-old caught in an unending strug...


  42. 42. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

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    When a girl leaves home at eighteen, she does one of two things. Either she falls into saving hands and becomes better, or she rapidly assumes the cosmopolitan standard of virtue and becomes worse....


  43. 43. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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    A family travels from the big woods of Wisconsin to a new home on the prairie, where they build a house, meet neighboring Indians, build a well, and fight a prairie fire.

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  44. 44. The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett

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    A writer comes one summer to Dunnet Landing, a Maine seacoast town, where she follows the lonely inhabitants of once-prosperous coastal towns. Here, lives are molded by the long Maine winters, rock...

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  45. 45. Native Son by Richard Wright

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    The novel tells the story of 20-year old Bigger Thomas, an African American living in utter poverty. Bigger lived in Chicago's South Side ghetto in the 1930s. Bigger was always getting into troubl...


  46. 46. Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

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    Before Raymond Carver, John Cheever, and Richard Ford, there was Sherwood Anderson, who, with Winesburg, Ohio, charted a new direction in American fiction — evoking with lyrical simplicity quiet mo...


  47. 47. All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

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    All the King's Men portrays the dramatic political ascent and governorship of Willie Stark, a driven, cynical populist in the American South during the 1930s.


  48. 48. Morte D'Urban by J. F. Powers

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    The hero of J.F. Powers's comic masterpiece is Father Urban, a man of the cloth who is also a man of the world. Charming, with an expansive vision of the spiritual life and a high tolerance for mor...


  49. 49. The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead

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    The novel tells the story of a highly dysfunctional family, the Pollits. The story centers on the family's impoverishment, the failure of the father Sam to provide for them, the parents' marital ba...


  50. 50. At Swim Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien

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    At Swim-Two-Birds is a 1939 novel by Irish author Brian O'Nolan, writing under the pseudonym Flann O'Brien. It is widely considered to be O'Brien's masterpiece, and one of the most sophisticated ex...