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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.

Upcoming events (5)

The Alexandria Quartet - Book 1 - Justine by Lawrence Durrell

The Alexandria Quartet is a tetralogy of novels by British writer Lawrence Durrell, published between 1957 and 1960. A critical and commercial success, the first three books present three perspectives on a single set of events and characters in Alexandria (Egypt), before and during World War II. The fourth book is set six years later. The four novels are: Justine (1957) Balthazar (1958) Mountolive (1958) Clea (1960). We will be reading the first in the series, Justine.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark


The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a novel by novelist Muriel Spark, the best known of her works. It first saw publication in The New Yorker magazine and was published as a book by Macmillan in 1961. In 1930s Edinburgh, six ten-year-old girls, Sandy, Rose, Mary, Jenny, Monica, and Eunice are assigned Miss Jean Brodie, who describes herself as being "in my prime", as teacher. Miss Brodie, determined that they shall receive an education in the original sense of the Latin verb educere, "to lead out", gives her students lessons about her personal love life and travels, promoting art history, classical studies, and fascism. Under her mentorship, these six girls whom Brodie singles out as the elite group among her students—known as the "Brodie set"—begin to stand out from the rest of the school.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess


A vicious fifteen-year-old droog is the central character of this 1963 classic. In Anthony Burgess's nightmare vision of the future, where criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends' social pathology. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. And when the state undertakes to reform Alex to "redeem" him, the novel asks, "At what cost?"

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys


In her last and best-selling novel, Jean Rhys gives the backstory of Bertha Mason, first wife of Edward Rochester and the "insuperable impediment" to marriage between Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. In Ryhs' telling, Bertha is a lively Creole heiress, growing up in the unstable and racially charged environment of the West Indies. Her marriage to an unnamed English man, and her forced move to chilly England heightens her unhappiness. If you have read Jane Eyre, you know how the story ends -- but Rhys' interpretation will transform your understanding of the classic.

Past events (108)

A Dance to the Music of Time - First Movement


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