The Greatest Iranian, French "Modernist" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 305 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Modernist literature is a category of books that emerged in the early 20th century, characterized by a break from traditional literary forms and a focus on individual experience and perception. Modernist writers experimented with language, form, and structure, often using stream-of-consciousness narration and fragmented storytelling to convey the complexity and ambiguity of modern life. Themes of alienation, disillusionment, and the search for meaning are common in modernist literature, which reflects the cultural and social upheavals of the time. Overall, modernist literature is a challenging and thought-provoking genre that continues to influence contemporary literature and culture.

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  1. 1. 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 6th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. The Stranger by Albert Camus

    The narrative follows a man who, after the death of his mother, falls into a routine of indifference and emotional detachment, leading him to commit an act of violence on a sun-drenched beach. His subsequent trial becomes less about the act itself and more about his inability to conform to societal norms and expectations, ultimately exploring themes of existentialism, absurdism, and the human condition.

    The 31st Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. Journey to the End of The Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline

    The novel is a semi-autobiographical work that explores the harsh realities of life through the cynical and disillusioned eyes of the protagonist. The narrative follows his experiences from the trenches of World War I, through the African jungles, to the streets of America and the slums of Paris, showcasing the horrors of war, colonialism, and the dark side of human nature. The protagonist's journey is marked by his struggle with despair, loneliness, and the absurdity of existence, offering a bleak yet profound commentary on the human condition.

    The 125th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. The Plague by Albert Camus

    The novel is set in the Algerian city of Oran during the 1940s, where a deadly plague sweeps through, causing the city to be quarantined. The story is told through the eyes of a doctor who witnesses the horror and suffering caused by the disease. The narrative explores themes of human resilience, solidarity, and the struggle against the absurdities of life. It also examines how individuals and society respond to death and disease, creating a profound meditation on the nature of existence and human endurance.

    The 135th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. Nausea by Jean Paul Sartre

    The novel follows a historian living in a small French town, struggling with a strange and unsettling feeling of disgust and revulsion he calls 'nausea'. He grapples with the existential dread of his own existence and the meaningless of life, continually questioning his own perceptions and the nature of reality. As he navigates through his everyday life, he is plagued by his philosophical thoughts and the overwhelming sensation of nausea, leading him to a profound existential crisis.

    The 257th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. The Counterfeiters by André Gide

    "The Counterfeiters" is a complex novel that explores themes of authenticity, morality, and identity, primarily through the lens of a group of friends in Paris. The story revolves around a series of counterfeit coins, which serve as a metaphor for the characters' struggles with their own authenticity and self-perception. The narrative also delves into the lives of the characters, their relationships, personal struggles, and their journey towards self-discovery. The book is noted for its non-linear structure and metafictional elements, with the author himself being a character in the story.

    The 264th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. The Fall by Albert Camus

    The novel is narrated by a successful Parisian lawyer who has moved to Amsterdam after a crisis of conscience. He confesses his past misdeeds and moral failings to a stranger in a bar, revealing his growing self-loathing and disillusionment with the hypocrisy and shallowness of his former life. His confessions are a reflection on guilt, innocence, and the nature of human existence. The protagonist's fall from grace serves as a critique of modern society's moral failings and the individual's struggle with guilt and redemption.

    The 669th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Zazie in the Metro by Raymond Queneau

    A young, precocious girl named Zazie comes to Paris to stay with her flamboyant uncle, a professional female impersonator. She is obsessed with riding the Metro, but a strike thwarts her plans. As she explores the city on her own, she encounters a variety of eccentric characters, gets into mischief, and ultimately causes chaos in the city. The novel is a humorous and satirical look at Parisian life, filled with word play and surreal elements.

    The 744th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. Nadja by André Breton

    The novel is a surrealistic exploration of the narrator's relationship with a young woman named Nadja. As the narrator becomes infatuated with Nadja, their encounters become more and more dreamlike. The book delves into the nature of reality and the power of the subconscious mind, blurring the lines between dreams and reality. It is also a commentary on the socio-political climate of Paris in the early 20th century, showcasing the author's views on art, life, and love.

    The 768th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille

    This novel is a provocative exploration of the dark side of human nature, featuring two teenage characters who engage in increasingly bizarre and violent sexual games. Their actions, driven by their obsession with eroticism and death, lead them into a world of perversion and madness. The narrative is filled with explicit sexual content and shocking imagery, reflecting the author's fascination with the transgressive and the taboo.

    The 795th Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. Froth on the daydream by Boris Vian

    "Froth on the Daydream" is a tragic love story set in a surreal world. The protagonist is a wealthy young man who marries a woman he loves deeply. However, their bliss is short-lived when she develops a strange illness - a water lily growing in her lung. As her health deteriorates, so does their wealth and social standing, leading to a bleak and heartbreaking end. This novel is a poignant exploration of love, loss, and the harsh realities of life, all set within a fantastical and dreamlike landscape.

    The 935th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. Death on Credit by Louis-Ferdinand Céline

    "Death on Credit" is a semi-autobiographical novel that explores the life of a young Frenchman in Paris during the early 20th century. The protagonist, a medical student from a poor family, struggles with the harsh realities of life, including poverty, sickness, and death. The narrative is marked by its dark humor, cynicism, and scathing critique of society, reflecting the author's own experiences and views. The protagonist's journey is a constant struggle against the absurdity and despair of existence, depicted through a series of episodic adventures and misadventures.

    The 1070th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Alcools by Guillaume Apollinaire

    "Alcools" is a collection of poems that explores various themes such as love, loss, and the passage of time. The work is notable for its innovative use of form and syntax, often eschewing traditional punctuation and capitalization. The poems are rich in imagery and symbolism, drawing on a wide range of influences from mythology to modern urban life. The collection is considered a landmark of modernist literature, reflecting the author's unique vision and distinctive poetic voice.

    The 1254th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet

    The novel is a dark, poetic exploration of the criminal underworld in Paris, focusing on the life and fantasies of a homosexual prostitute and thief. The protagonist, while in prison, creates an elaborate fantasy world populated by outcasts, convicts, and murderers, including a transgender character who becomes his ideal of beauty and purity. The narrative is filled with graphic depictions of sex and violence, and explores themes of transgression, identity, and the transformative power of the imagination.

    The 1282nd Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. Illuminations by Arthur Rimbaud

    "Illuminations" is a collection of prose poems that delve into the author's vivid dreamlike visions and his exploration of his inner psyche. These poems are filled with symbolic imagery and metaphors that challenge traditional poetic norms. The author uses his work to express his disillusionment with the conventional world, his longing for spiritual enlightenment, and his quest for personal freedom. The collection is a testament to the author's innovative style and his significant influence on modernist literature.

    The 1488th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. Paris Spleen by Charles Baudelaire

    The book is a seminal work in the history of prose poetry, capturing the modern urban experience through a series of short, lyrical pieces. It delves into the psychological landscape of the city, exploring themes of melancholy, ennui, and the search for beauty amidst the squalor of Parisian life in the mid-19th century. The author's sharp observations and vivid imagery reflect his complex relationship with the city, oscillating between a deep love for its vibrant culture and a profound sense of alienation. This collection of prose poems is considered a touchstone for modernist literature, influencing generations of writers and poets with its innovative style and introspective depth.

    The 1820th Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. Collected Poems by Stéphane Mallarmé

    "Collected Poems" is a compilation of poetic works by a renowned French poet. The book offers readers a deep exploration into the intricate world of symbolism and the power of language. The author's artistic use of words to create vivid imagery and evoke profound emotions is evident throughout the collection. His poems delve into themes of reality, dreams, and the interplay between the two, offering a unique perspective on the human experience.

    The 1869th Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. Wry-Blue Loves: Les Amours Jaunes by Tristan Corbière

    "Wry-Blue Loves: Les Amours Jaunes" is a collection of poems that explore themes of love, death, and the sea. Written in a unique style that blends irony, sarcasm, and a sense of melancholy, the author uses vivid and sometimes shocking imagery to challenge conventional romantic ideals and express his own disillusionment with love and life. The sea serves as a recurring motif, symbolizing both the author's Breton heritage and the unpredictable, often cruel nature of existence.

    The 1935th Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. Aurélien by Louis Aragon

    "Aurélien" is a novel set in post-World War I Paris, following the life of the protagonist, a war veteran, who falls in love with a woman he sees in a café. However, the woman is already engaged to a friend of his, leading to a tumultuous love triangle. The book explores themes of love, war, and the struggle of the human condition, presenting a vivid picture of the social and political landscape of Paris during the 1920s.

    The 2059th Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. Impressions of Africa by Raymond Roussel

    In this surrealistic novel, a group of Europeans are stranded in Africa after their ship is hijacked by a local monarch. While held captive, each of the characters narrates a fantastical tale or performance, showcasing their unique talents and skills. The narrative is filled with bizarre inventions, intricate wordplay, and a dizzying array of subplots, all of which are eventually woven together in a complex and cryptic manner. The novel is a testament to the author's imagination and his ability to create a world that is both strange and captivating.

    The 2471st Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. Arcanum 17 by André Breton

    "Arcanum 17" is a surrealist exploration of love, loss, and resurrection set amidst the backdrop of World War II. Drawing inspiration from the legend of Melusina, the author uses the symbolism of this mythic figure to discuss the role of women in society and the destructive nature of war. The narrative also delves into themes of renewal, rebirth, and the power of the feminine, all while using the surrealist style to blend reality and dream in a poetic and philosophical discourse.

    The 2471st Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. Death Sentence by Maurice Blanchot

    "Death Sentence" is a philosophical novella that explores the themes of death, love, and the nature of narrative. The story is divided into two parts, each focusing on a different protagonist who is dealing with the impending death of a loved one. Through their experiences and internal monologues, the novel delves into the complexities of human emotions and the existential dread associated with mortality. The narrative is further complicated by the author's experimental writing style, which challenges traditional storytelling conventions and encourages readers to question their understanding of reality.

    The 2471st Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. The Vice-Consul by Marguerite Duras

    This novel follows the story of three lonely, dispossessed people in Calcutta, India: a troubled former French diplomat, a young French woman haunted by her past, and a poverty-stricken Indian woman. As their lives intersect, they grapple with desire, despair, and the struggle for redemption. The narrative is a complex exploration of colonialism, privilege, and the human condition, told through the lens of these three characters' tragic and intertwined lives.

    The 2471st Greatest Book of All Time
  24. 24. The Thief's Journal by Jean Genet

    The book is a fictionalized account of the author's experiences in the criminal underworld of early 20th-century Europe. It is a narrative that delves into the life of a man who embraces his identity as a thief and a homosexual, exploring the intersections of crime, sexuality, and social defiance. The protagonist navigates through various relationships with fellow outcasts and criminals, while also confronting the moral codes of society. The work is known for its poetic and introspective prose, as well as its exploration of themes such as betrayal, freedom, and the search for beauty within the margins of society.

    The 2895th Greatest Book of All Time
  25. 25. Calligrammes by Guillaume Apollinaire

    "Calligrammes" is a collection of free verse poetry and typographical experiments by a French poet. The poems are noted for their use of complex visual layouts and playful language, which often incorporate elements of surrealism and cubism. The collection is also notable for its exploration of various themes, including love, war, and the passage of time. The title of the collection refers to the poet's use of words and phrases to create a visual image, or calligram, on the page.

    The 3107th Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.