Greatest Prose Works of the 20th Century

This is one of the 313 lists we use to generate our main The Greatest Books list.

  • Ulysses by James Joyce

    Set in Dublin, the novel follows a day in the life of Leopold Bloom, an advertising salesman, as he navigates the city. The narrative, heavily influenced by Homer's Odyssey, explores themes of identity, heroism, and the complexities of everyday life. It is renowned for its stream-of-consciousness style and complex structure, making it a challenging but rewarding read.

    The 2nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

    The book tells the story of a man who wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a giant insect. His transformation causes him to lose his job and become ostracized from his family, who are horrified and repulsed by his new form. As he grapples with his new reality, he becomes increasingly isolated and starts to lose his sense of humanity. The book explores themes of alienation, guilt, and identity, and is a profound examination of the human condition.

    The 119th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Petersburg by Andrei Bely

    "Petersburg" is a symbolist novel set in the heart of Russia during the 1905 Revolution. It follows the story of a young man who is given the task of assassinating his own father, a high-ranking government official, by a radical political group. The narrative is a complex mix of politics, family drama, and philosophical introspection, all set against the backdrop of a city in turmoil. The novel is renowned for its vivid and poetic descriptions of the city itself, making Petersburg as much a character in the story as the people who inhabit it.

    The 967th Greatest Book of All Time
  • In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

    This renowned novel is a sweeping exploration of memory, love, art, and the passage of time, told through the narrator's recollections of his childhood and experiences into adulthood in the late 19th and early 20th century aristocratic France. The narrative is notable for its lengthy and intricate involuntary memory episodes, the most famous being the "madeleine episode". It explores the themes of time, space and memory, but also raises questions about the nature of art and literature, and the complex relationships between love, sexuality, and possession.

    The 5th Greatest Book of All Time
About this list

Vladimir Nabokov, 4 Books

Author Vladimir Nabokov's selection of the Top 4 greatest prose works of the 20th century.

This list was originally published in 1965 and was added to this site over 9 years ago.

How Good is this List?

This list has a weight of 34%. To learn more about what this means please visit the Rankings page.

Here is a list of what is decreasing the importance of this list:

  • Voters: 1 person voted
  • List: only covers mostly "Western Canon" books

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