The Top 10: The Greatest Books of All Time by The Top 10 (Book)

The Top 10 book chosen by 125 top writers from the book "The Top 10" edited by J. Peder Zane.

  1. 1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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    Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endu...


  2. 2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

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    For daring to peer into the heart of an adulteress and enumerate its contents with profound dispassion, the author of Madame Bovary was tried for "offenses against morality and religion." What shoc...


  3. 3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

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    Epic in scale, War and Peace delineates in graphic detail events leading up to Napoleon's invasion of Russia, and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society, as seen through the eyes of fi...


  4. 4. 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...


  5. 5. 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...


  6. 6. Middlemarch by George Eliot

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    Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life is a novel by George Eliot, the pen name of Mary Anne Evans, later Marian Evans. It is her seventh novel, begun in 1869 and then put aside during the final i...


  7. 7. 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...


  8. 8. The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov

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    Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian short-story writer, playwright and physician, considered to be one of the greatest short-story writers in the history of world literature. His career as a dram...


  9. 9. 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...


  10. 10. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

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    The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601. The play, set in Denmark, recounts how Pri...


  11. 11. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

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    First published in 1851, Melville's masterpiece is, in Elizabeth Hardwick's words, "the greatest novel in American literature." The saga of Captain Ahab and his monomaniacal pursuit of the white wh...


  12. 12. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

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    Alonso Quixano, a retired country gentleman in his fifties, lives in an unnamed section of La Mancha with his niece and a housekeeper. He has become obsessed with books of chivalry, and believes th...


  13. 13. 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...


  14. 14. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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    Great Expectations is written in the genre of "bildungsroman" or the style of book that follows the story of a man or woman in their quest for maturity, usually starting from childhood and ending i...


  15. 15. 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...


  16. 16. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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    It is a murder story, told from a murder;s point of view, that implicates even the most innocent reader in its enormities. It is a cat-and-mouse game between a tormented young killer and a cheerful...


  17. 17. King Lear by William Shakespeare

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    King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1603 and 1606. It is considered one of his greatest works. The play is based on the legend of Leir of Britain, a...


  18. 18. The Odyssey by Homer

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    The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work traditionally ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the m...


  19. 19. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

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    A landmark novel of high modernism, the text, centering on the Ramsay family and their visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland between 1910 and 1920, skillfully manipulates temporality and psycholog...


  20. 20. Dubliners by James Joyce

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    Dubliners is a collection of 15 short stories by James Joyce, first published in 1914. The fifteen stories were meant to be a naturalistic depiction of the Irish middle class life in and around Dub...


  21. 21. The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor by Flannery O'Connor

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    The publication of this extraordinary volume firmly established Flannery O'Connor's monumental contribution to American fiction. There are thirty-one stories here in all, including twelve that do n...


  22. 22. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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    The book is narrated in free indirect speech following the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with matters of upbringing, marriage, moral rightness and education in her aristocratic socie...


  23. 23. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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    Dostoevsky's last and greatest novel, The Karamazov Brothers, is both a brilliantly told crime story and a passionate philosophical debate. The dissolute landowner Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov is mur...


  24. 24. 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...


  25. 25. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

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    Absalom, Absalom! is a Southern Gothic novel by the American author William Faulkner, first published in 1936. It is a story about three families of the American South, taking place before, during,...


  26. 26. Emma by Jane Austen

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    Before she began the novel, Austen wrote, "I am going to take a heroine whom no-one but myself will much like."[1] In the very first sentence she introduces the title character as "Emma Woodhouse, ...


  27. 27. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

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    Belonging in the immortal company of the great works of literature, Dante Alighieri's poetic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, is a moving human drama, an unforgettable visionary journey through the ...


  28. 28. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

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    Jane Eyre is a first-person narrative of the title character, a small, plain-faced, intelligent and honest English orphan. The novel goes through five distinct stages: Jane's childhood at Gateshead...


  29. 29. Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne

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    As its title suggests, the book is ostensibly Tristram's narration of his life story. But it is one of the central jokes of the novel that he cannot explain anything simply, that he must make expla...


  30. 30. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

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    Created from two short stories, "Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street" and the unfinished "The Prime Minister", the novel's story is of Clarissa's preparations for a party of which she is to be hostess. Wit...


  31. 31. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

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    The narrative is non-linear, involving several flashbacks, and two primary narrators: Mr. Lockwood and Ellen "Nelly" Dean. The novel opens in 1801, with Mr. Lockwood arriving at Thrushcross Grange,...


  32. 32. 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...


  33. 33. The Bible by Christian Church

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    The Authorized King James Version is an English translation of the Christian Bible begun in 1604 and completed in 1611 by the Church of England. Printed by the King's Printer, Robert Barker, the fi...


  34. 34. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

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    The novel is presented as a poem titled "Pale Fire" with commentary by a friend of the poet's. Together these elements form two story lines in which both authors are central characters. The int...


  35. 35. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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    As a Southern Gothic novel and a Bildungsroman, the primary themes of To Kill a Mockingbird involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. Scholars have noted that Lee also addresses is...


  36. 36. Bleak House by Charles Dickens

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    Bleak House is the ninth novel by Charles Dickens, published in twenty monthly instalments between March 1852 and September 1853. It is held to be one of Dickens's finest novels, containing one of ...


  37. 37. 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 ...


  38. 38. 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...


  39. 39. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

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    With their astonishing diversity of tone and subject matter, The Canterbury Tales have become one of the touchstones of medieval literature. Translated here into modern English, these tales of a mo...


  40. 40. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

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    The story details an incident when Marlow, an Englishman, took a foreign assignment from a Belgian trading company as a ferry-boat captain in Africa. Although Conrad does not specify the name of th...


  41. 41. 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...


  42. 42. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

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    The Tragedy of Macbeth, commonly just Macbeth, is a play by William Shakespeare about a regicide and its aftermath. It is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy and is believed to have been written sometim...


  43. 43. Persuasion by Jane Austen

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    Of all Jane Austen’s great and delightful novels, Persuasion is widely regarded as the most moving. It is the story of a second chance. Anne Elliot, daughter of the snobbish, spendthrift Sir Walte...


  44. 44. 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...


  45. 45. Beloved by Toni Morrison

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    Beloved (1987) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. The novel, her fifth, is loosely based on the life and legal case of the slave Margaret Garner, about whom Morrison...


  46. 46. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

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    Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West is a 1985 Western novel by American author Cormac McCarthy. It was McCarthy's fifth book, and was published by Random House. The narrative foll...


  47. 47. Oresteia by Aeschylus

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    The Oresteia is a trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Aeschylus which concerns the end of the curse on the House of Atreus. When originally performed it was accompanied by Proteus, a satyr play t...


  48. 48. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

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    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a semi-autobiographical novel by James Joyce, first serialized in The Egoist from 1914 to 1915 and published in book form in 1916. It depicts the formativ...


  49. 49. 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 ...


  50. 50. 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...


  51. 51. 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.


  52. 52. Rabbit, Run by John Updike

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    Rabbit, Run depicts five months in the life of a 26-year-old former high school basketball player named Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom, and his attempts to escape the constraints of his life.


  53. 52. Rabbit Redux by John Updike

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    Rabbit Redux finds the former high-school basketball star, Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, working a dead-end job and approaching middle age in the downtrodden and fictional city of Brewer, Pennsylvania, ...


  54. 52. Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike

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    Rabbit Is Rich is a 1981 novel by John Updike. It is the third novel of the four-part series which begins with Rabbit, Run and Rabbit Redux, and concludes with Rabbit At Rest. There is also a relat...


  55. 52. Rabbit at Rest by John Updike

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    In John Updike's fourth and final novel about ex-basketball player Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, the hero has acquired heart trouble, a Florida condo, and a second grandchild. His son, Nelson, is behavi...


  56. 53. 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

  57. 54. 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...


  58. 55. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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    Hester Prynne is a beautiful young woman. She is also an outcast. In the eyes of her neighbors she has committed an unforgivable sin. Everyone knows that her little daughter, Pearl, is the product ...


  59. 56. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

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    In 1862 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a shy Oxford mathematician with a stammer, created a story about a little girl tumbling down a rabbit hole. Thus began the immortal adventures of Alice, perhaps th...


  60. 57. The Iliad by Homer

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    The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set in the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of Ilium by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and e...


  61. 58. One Thousand and One Nights by India/Iran/Iraq/Egypt

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    One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Ni...


  62. 59. The Red and the Black by Stendhal

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    Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black), subtitled Chronique du XIXe siécle ("Chronicle of the 19th century"), is an historical psychological novel in two volumes by Stendhal, published in 1830...


  63. 60. The Collected Stories of Isaac Babel by Isaac Babel

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    Babel was best known for his mastery of the short story form-in which he ranks alongside Kafka and Hemingway-but his career was tragically cut short when he was murdered by Stalin's secret police. ...


  64. 61. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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    The story is that of the rise and fall of Dick Diver, a promising young psychoanalyst and his wife, Nicole, who is also one of his patients. It would be Fitzgerald's first novel in nine years, and ...


  65. 62. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

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    Catch-22 is a satirical, historical novel by the American author Joseph Heller, first published in 1961. The novel, set during the later stages of World War II from 1943 onwards, is frequently cite...


  66. 63. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

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    An anti-war science fiction novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier called Billy Pilgrim.


  67. 64. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

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    The book is told in stream of consciousness writing style by 15 different narrators in 59 chapters. It is the story of the death of Addie Bundren and her family's quest—noble or selfish—to honor he...


  68. 65. Paradise Lost by John Milton

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    Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books. A second edition followed in 1674, redivided into twelve...


  69. 66. The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever

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    The Stories of John Cheever is a 1978 short story collection by American author John Cheever. It contains some of his most famous stories, including "The Enormous Radio," "Goodbye, My Brother," "Th...


  70. 67. The Aeneid by Virgil

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    The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem written by Virgil in the late 1st century BC (29–19 BC) that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who traveled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the...


  71. 68. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol

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    Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, Russian writer, was first published in 1842, and is one of the most prominent works of 19th-century Russian literature. Gogol himself saw it as an "epic poem in prose",...


  72. 69. 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 ...


  73. 70. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

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    Leaves of Grass (1855) is a poetry collection by the American poet Walt Whitman. Among the poems in the collection are "Song of Myself," "I Sing the Body Electric," "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Roc...


  74. 71. The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka by Franz Kafka

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    The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka is a compilation of all Kafka's short stories. With the exception of Kafka's three novels (The Trial, The Castle and Amerika), this collection includes all of Ka...


  75. 72. 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.


  76. 73. 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...


  77. 74. The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty

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    Stories are as good in themselves and as influential on the aspirations of others as any since Hemingway's. The breadth of Welty's offering is finally most visible not in the variety of types--farc...


  78. 75. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens

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    Our Mutual Friend (written in the years 1864–65) is the last novel completed by Charles Dickens and is in many ways one of his most sophisticated works, combining deep psychological insight with ri...


  79. 76. The Hamlet by William Faulkner

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    The Hamlet, the first novel of Faulkner's Snopes trilogy, is both an ironic take on classical tragedy and a mordant commentary on the grand pretensions of the antebellum South and the depths of its...

    - Google

  80. 77. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

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    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...


  81. 78. The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard

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    The Transit of Venus tells the story of two orphan sisters, Caroline and Grace Bell, as they leave Australia to start a new life in post-war England. What happens to these young women — seduction a...


  82. 79. So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell

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    On an Illinois farm in the 1920s, a man is murdered, and in the same moment the tenous friendship between two lonely boys comes to an end. In telling their interconnected stories, American Book Awa...


  83. 80. Selected Stories of Alice Munro by Alice Munro

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    Selected Stories is a volume of short stories by Alice Munro, published by McClelland and Stewart in 1996. It collects stories previously published in her eight previous books.


  84. 81. The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal

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    Balzac considered it the most important French novel of his time. André Gide later deemed it the greatest of all French novels, and Henry James judged it to be a masterpiece. Now, in a major litera...


  85. 82. Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio

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    In the early summer of the year 1348, as a terrible plague ravages the city, ten charming young Florentines take refuge in country villas to tell each other stories — a hundred stories of love, adv...


  86. 83. 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...


  87. 84. The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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    The Possessed is an 1872 novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Though titled The Possessed in the initial English translation, Dostoevsky scholars and later translations favour the titles The Devils or Demon...


  88. 85. Independent People by Halldor Laxness

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    Independent People is an epic novel by Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness, published in 1946. It deals with the struggle of poor Icelandic farmers in the early 20th century, only freed from debt bondag...


  89. 86. 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...


  90. 87. Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford

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    In creating his acclaimed masterpiece Parade's End, Ford Madox Ford "wanted the Novelist in fact to appear in his really proud position as historian of his own time . . . The 'subject' was the worl...


  91. 88. Stories of Ernest Hemingway by Ernest Hemingway

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    Before he gained wide fame as a novelist, Ernest Hemingway established his literary reputation with his short stories. This collection, The Short Stories, originally published in 1938, is definitiv...

    - Google

  92. 89. Collected Stories by Raymond Chandler

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    A complete collection of short fiction by the creator of Philip Marlowe includes stories such as "Blackmailers Don't Shoot," "The Pencil," and "English Summer."

    - Google

  93. 90. Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

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    Violated by one man, forsaken by another, Tess Durbeyfield is the magnificent and spirited heroine of Thomas Hardy’s immortal work. Of all the great English novelists, no one writes more eloquently...

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  94. 91. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

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    No one is better equipped in the struggle for wealth and worldly success than the alluring and ruthless Becky Sharp, who defies her impoverished background to clamber up the class ladder. Her senti...


  95. 92. Cousin Bette by Honoré de Balzac

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    La Cousine Bette (English: Cousin Betty or Cousin Bette) is an 1846 novel by French author Honoré de Balzac. Set in mid-19th century Paris, it tells the story of an unmarried middle-aged woman who ...


  96. 93. Don Juan: A Poem by Lord Byron

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    Don Juan (JEW-ən; see below) is a satiric poem by Lord Byron, based on the legend of Don Juan, which Byron reverses, portraying Juan not as a womaniser but as someone easily seduced by women. It is...

    - Google

  97. 94. Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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    Notes from Underground is a study of a single character, and a revelation of Dostoyevsky's own deepest beliefs. In this work we follow the unnamed narrator of the story, who, disillusioned by the o...

    - Google

  98. 95. The Stand by Stephen King

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    The Stand is a post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy novel by American author Stephen King. It re-works the scenario in his earlier short story, Night Surf. The novel was originally published in 1978 and...


  99. 96. The Tempest by William Shakespeare

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    The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, estimated to have been written in 1610–11, (although some researchers have argued for an earlier dating). The play's protagonist is the banished sorcer...


  100. 97. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

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    The main character, an African American woman in her early forties named Janie Crawford, tells the story of her life and journey via an extended flashback to her best friend, Pheoby, so that Pheoby...


  101. 98. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

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    A Passage to India is set against the backdrop of the British Raj and the Indian independence movement in the 1920s. The story revolves around four characters: Dr. Aziz, his British friend Cyril Fi...


  102. 99. Candide by Voltaire

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    Candide, ou l'Optimisme is a French satire written in 1759 by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment. Candide is characterized by its sarcastic tone and its erratic, fantastical, an...


  103. 100. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

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    It tells the tragic story of a heroine whose quest for virtue is continually thwarted by her family, and is one of the longest novels in the English language.