Monday, October 24, 2005

TIME Magazine: Best 100 Novels in English

I normally hate these lists. They either pander to modern political correctness or pander to the masses. This one is a bit different. There is no ranking, so there's no controversy over what criterion determined that Finnegans' Wake should out-rank Lolita, or similar such mysteries.

Arranged alphabetically, the list is a paragon of egalitarianism. All stand equal before the list. Unless, of course, your favorite work of literature did not make the list.

Most of my candidates are here: Lolita, Brideshead Revisited, Lucky Jim, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Deliverance, and even The Big Sleep. All good choices, in my humble opinion.

Interestingly, C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe made the list while Harry Potter did not. This is interesting only because the inclusion of Harry Potter on any list that doesn't avoid all children's literature has become obligatory.

Any outrages? Yes, of a sort. "Modern lit" is represented by the usual suspects, including Toni Morrison, Magaret Atwood, and Jonathan Franzen. I cannot comment on Franzen, whose The Corrections is weighty tome I have not even tried to read. But Morrison and Atwood are over-rated hacks who wear their weltanshaung on their sleeve (and in their text). Their inclusion is unsurprising, but particularly annoying given the outrageous exclusion of Mark Helprin, whose work -- both fiction and non-fiction --I have praised on this blog.

And finally, there is included in this list of the best novels, a work by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons called Watchmen.

Isn't this a comic book?


At 2:29 AM, Blogger Norma said...

I hate those lists. They make me feel so. . . under-read.


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