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The Modern Library list of top 100 modern works of English literature contains amazing novels. Here's an opportunity to revisit works you may have read in high school or college and to fill in some of the gaps in your literary education. Each month we'll read the works of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Wharton, Woolf, Nabokov and more. http://www.modernlibrary.com/top-100/100-best-novels (http://www.modernlibrary.com/top-100/100-best-novels/)/


Modern Library's 100 Best Novels is a list of the best English-language novels of the 20th century as selected by the Modern Library (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Library), an American publishing company owned by Random House (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Random_House).

In early 1998, the Modern Library polled its editorial board to find the best 100 novels of the 20th century. The board consisted of Daniel J. Boorstin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_J._Boorstin), A. S. Byatt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._S._Byatt), Christopher Cerf (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Cerf), Shelby Foote (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelby_Foote), Vartan Gregorian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vartan_Gregorian), Edmund Morris (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Morris_(writer)), John Richardson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Richardson_(art_historian)), Arthur Schlesinger Jr. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Schlesinger_Jr.), William Styron (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Styron) and Gore Vidal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gore_Vidal).

Ulysses (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulysses_(novel)) by James Joyce (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Joyce) topped the list, followed by F. Scott Fitzgerald (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._Scott_Fitzgerald)'s The Great Gatsby (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Gatsby) and Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Portrait_of_the_Artist_as_a_Young_Man). The most recent novel in the list is Ironweed (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ironweed) (1983) by William Kennedy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_J._Kennedy), and the oldest is Heart of Darkness (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_of_Darkness) by Joseph Conrad (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Conrad), which was first published in 1899. Conrad has four novels on the list, the most of any author. William Faulkner (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Faulkner), E. M. Forster (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._M._Forster), Henry James (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_James), James Joyce (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Joyce), D. H. Lawrence (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D._H._Lawrence), and Evelyn Waugh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evelyn_Waugh) each have three novels. There are ten other authors with two novels.

Criticism of the Modern Library list includes that it did not include enough novels by women (and that only one woman was on the panel) and not enough novels from outside North America and Europe. For example, in the UK many of the novels on the list are regarded as given undue credit.[2] In addition, some contend it was a "sales gimmick", since most of the titles in the list are also sold by Modern Library. Others note that both Modern Library and Random House USA, the parent company, are US companies. Critics have argued that this is responsible for a very American view of the greatest novels. British, Canadian and Australian academics, and even Random House UK, have differing lists of "greatest novels".

A Reader's List 100 Best Novels was published separately by Modern Library in 1999. In an unscientific poll, over 200,000 self-selected voters indicated four of the ten-best novels of the 20th century were written by Ayn Rand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayn_Rand), including the two novels that topped the list. Pulp (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulp_magazine) science fiction (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_fiction) writer and Scientology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientology) founder L. Ron Hubbard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L._Ron_Hubbard) had three novels in the top ten. The Reader's Poll has been cited by Harry Binswanger (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Binswanger), a longtime associate of Rand and promoter of her work, as representative of "the clash between the intellectual establishment and the American people." However, journalists such as Kyrie O'Connor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyrie_O%27Connor) and Jesse Walker (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_Walker) have attributed the differences at the top of the list to ballot-stuffing or especially devoted followings, rather than accurate expressions of broad public opinion.

A separate Modern Library 100 Best Nonfiction (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Library_100_Best_Nonfiction) list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the 20th century was created the same year.

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The 42nd Parallel, Book 1 in the USA Trilogy by John Dos Passos

From www.johndospassos.com: THE 42ND PARALLEL, 1930 The first volume in what would become Dos Passos’s most famous work, the trilogy U.S.A., The 42nd Parallel introduces grand innovations in the form and content of American literature. The author chronicles the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century, as the country angsts for attention on the world stage. Across America, Dos Passos is troubled by how new institutions and movements—such as industrialization, imperialism, and materialism—stifle human freedom. His satire is born of hope for societal advancement through means consistent with the country’s democratic roots, as he perceives them. He uses a fresh, multimedia style that mixes newsreels, song lyrics, biographies of major figures, semi-autobiographical prose poems, and standard narrative. This collage effect, as well as the accompanying social satire, shakes the literary establishment. The New York Times perceives that the work is a “satire on the tremendous haphazardness of life in the expansionist America we all have known, the American which came into birth with the defeat of Jefferson’s dream of an agricultural democracy…It is an America ‘on the make’ that Mr. Dos Passos satirizes, an America filled with people with vague hopes of success—no matter what success.” Everyone is out for a buck before “the whole thing goes belly up.”

The Studs Lonigan Trilogy - Book 1 - Young Lonigan by James T. Farrell

James Thomas Farrell (1904—1979) was born in Chicago to a struggling family of second-generation Irish Catholic immigrants. In 1907, his father, James Farrell, a teamster unable to support his growing family, placed young Jim with his maternal grandparents. It was his grandparents’ neighborhood in Chicago’s South Fifties that would provide the background to Farrell’s Studs Lonigan trilogy. Farrell worked his way through the University of Chicago, shedding his Catholic upbringing and absorbing the works of William James, John Dewey, Sigmund Freud, while reading widely in American and European literature: Herman Melville, Sherwood Anderson, H. L. Mencken, Sinclair Lewis, and James Joyce were critical influences on his literary development. It's a story about coming-of-age and sexual awakening in the mean streets of 1910s Chicago. It's the beginning of a trilogy that will follow Studs Lonigan throughout adolescence. And, claims Arthur Schlesinger, Jr, it reveals "his vision of the truth-the truth about people, the truth about writing, the truth about America."

Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara


Appointment In Samarra, published in 1934, is the first novel by American writer John O'Hara(1905–1970). It concerns the self-destruction of the fictional character Julian English, a wealthy car dealer who was once a member of the social elite of Gibbsville (O'Hara's fictionalized version of Pottsville, Pennsylvania). The book created controversy due to O'Hara's inclusion of sexual content. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Appointment in Samarra 22nd on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen


The Death of the Heart is a 1938 novel by Elizabeth Bowen set in the interwar period. It is about a sixteen-year-old orphan, Portia Quayne, who moves to London to live with her half-brother Thomas and falls in love with Eddie, a friend of her sister-in-law. Bowen called it a 'pre-war' novel, "a novel which reflects the time, the pre-war time with its high tension, its increasing anxieties, and this great stress on individualism. People were so conscious of themselves, and of each other, and of their personal relationships because they thought that everything of that time might soon end.

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