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Books depicting life in different eras

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Modern Library’s 100 best English-language novels of the 20th Century

This list was prepared by the editorial board of the Modern Library, a division of Random House. The board consists of: Daniel J. Boorstin, A.S. Byatt, Christopher Cerf, Shelby Foote, Vartan Gregorian, Edmund Morris, John Richardson, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., William Styron and Gore Vidal. Where possible, a New York Times book review web link is provided.

Some have suggested that the list was simply a clever publicity stunt on the part of the publishing giant Random House—you be the judge. An alternative list compiled by the students of the Radcliffe Publishing Course is provided below. It’s notable for including works that were overlooked in the Modern Library offering, such as “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, “Lord of the Rings” and “Winnie-the-Pooh”, among others.

1. Ulysses (1918) James Joyce (1882-1941) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098joyce-ulysses.html

2. The Great Gatsby (1925) F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098fitzgerald-gatsby.html

3. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) James Joyce (1882-1941)

4. Lolita (1955) Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/03/02/lifetimes/nab-r-lolita.html

5. Brave New World (1932) Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098huxley-brave.html

6. The Sound and the Fury (1929) William Faulkner (1897-1962)

7. Catch-22 (1961) Joseph Heller (1923-99) http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/02/15/home/heller-catch2.html

8. Darkness at Noon (1941) Arthur Koestler (1905-1983) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098koestler-darkness.html

9. Sons and Lovers (1913) D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098lawrence-sons.html

10. The Grapes of Wrath (1939) John Steinbeck (1902-1968) http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/07/06/home/history-grapes.html

11. Under the Volcano (1947) Malcolm Lowry (1909-1957)

12. The Way of All Flesh (1903) Samuel Butler (1835-1902)

13. 1984 (1949) George Orwell (1903-1949) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098orwell-1984.html

14. I, Claudius (1934) Robert Graves (1895-1985)

15. To the Lighthouse (1927) Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/06/08/reviews/woolf-lighthouse.html

16. An American Tragedy (1925) Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098dreiser-tragedy.html

17. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940) Carson McCullers (1917-1967)

18. Slaughterhouse Five (1969) Kurt Vonnegut (1922-) http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/09/28/lifetimes/vonnegut-slaughterhouse.html

19. Invisible Man (1952) Ralph Ellison (1914-1994) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098ellison-invisible.html

20. Native Son (1940) Richard Wright (1908-1960) http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/07/06/home/history-son.html

21. Henderson the Rain King (1959) Saul Bellow (1915-) http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/05/25/reviews/bellow-henderson.html

22. Appointment in Samarra (1934) John O'Hara (1905-1970) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098ohara-samarra.html

23. The USA Trilogy (1930-36) John Dos Passos (1896-1970) http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/03/16/bookend/bookend.html

24. Winesburg, Ohio (1919) Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941)

25. A Passage to India (1924) E.M. Forster (1879-1970) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098forster-india.html

26. The Wings of the Dove (1902) Henry James (1843-1916)

27. The Ambassadors (1903) Henry James (1843-1916) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098james-ambassadors.html

28. Tender Is the Night (1934) F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

29. Studs Lonigan (1932-35) James T. Farrell (1904-1979) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098farrell-lonigan.html

30. The Good Soldier (1915) Ford Maddox Ford (1873-1939)

31. Animal Farm (1946) George Orwell (1903-1949) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098orwell-animal.html

32. The Golden Bowl (1904) Henry James (1843-1916) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098james-golden.html

33. Sister Carrie (1900) Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098dreiser-carrie.html

34. A Handful of Dust (1934) Evelyn Waugh (1903-66) http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/05/04/reviews/waugh-dust.html

35. As I Lay Dying (1930) William Faulkner (1897-1962)

36. All the King's Men (1946) Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098warren-all.html

37. The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927) Thornton Wilder (1897-1975)

38. Howards End (1910) E.M. Forster (1879-1970)

39. Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953) James Baldwin (1922-1987) http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/29/specials/baldwin-mountain.html

40. The Heart of the Matter (1948) Graham Greene (1904-1991)

41. Lord of the Flies (1954) William Golding (1911-1993) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098golding-flies.html

42. Deliverance (1970) James Dickey (1923-1997) http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/03/23/bookend/dickey-deliverance.html

43. A Dance to the Music of Time (1951-75) Anthony Powell (1905-2000)

44. Point Counter Point (1928) Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

45. The Sun Also Rises (1926) Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

46. The Secret Agent (1920) Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)

47. Nostromo: A Tale of the Seaboard (1904) Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)

48. The Rainbow (1915) D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)

49. Women in Love (1920) D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)

50. Tropic of Cancer (1934) Henry Miller (1891-1980)

51. The Naked and the Dead (1948) Norman Mailer (1923-) http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/05/04/reviews/mailer-dead.html

52. Portnoy's Complaint (1969) Philip Roth (1933-) http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/04/20/reviews/roth-greenfeld.html

53. Pale Fire (1962) Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/03/02/lifetimes/nab-r-palefire.html

54. Light in August (1932) William Faulkner (1897-1962) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098faulkner-august.html

55. On the Road (1957) Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/09/07/home/kerouac-roadglowing.html

56. The Maltese Falcon (1930) Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961)

57. Parade's End (1924-28) Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939)

58. The Age of Innocence (1920) Edith Wharton (1862-1937) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098wharton-innocence.html

59. Zuleika Dobson or An Oxford Love Story (1911) Max Beerbohm (1872-1956) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098beerbohm-zuleika.html

60. The Moviegoer (1961) Walker Percy (1916-1990) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098percy-moviegoer.html

61. Death Comes to the Archbishop (1927) Willa Cather (1873-1947)

62. From Here to Eternity (1957) James Jones (1921-1977) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098jones-eternity.html

63. The Wapshot Chronicles (1957) John Cheever (1912-1982)

64. The Catcher in the Rye (1951) J.D. Salinger (1919-)

65. A Clockwork Orange (1962) Anthony Burgess (1917-1993) http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/11/30/home/burgess-orange.html

66. Of Human Bondage (1915) W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)

67. Heart of Darkness (1902) Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)

68. Main Street (1920) Sinclair Lewis †(1885-1951)

69. The House of Mirth (1905) Edith Wharton (1862-1937)

70. The Alexandria Quartet (1957-60) Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098durrell-alexandria.html

71. A High Wind in Jamaica (1929) Richard Hughes (1900-1976)

72. A House for Ms. Biswas (1961) V.S. Naipaul (1932-)

73. The Day of the Locust (1939) Nathanael West (1902-1940)

74. A Farewell to Arms (1929) Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

75. Scoop (1937) Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966)

76. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) Muriel Spark (1918-) http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/05/11/reviews/spark-brodie.html

77. Finnegans Wake (1939) James Joyce (1882-1941)

78. Kim (1901) Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

79. A Room With a View (1908) E.M. Forster (1879-1970)

80. Brideshead Revisited (1945) Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966) http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/05/04/reviews/waugh-brideshead.html

81. The Adventures of Augie March (1953) Saul Bellow (1915-) http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/05/25/reviews/bellow-march.html

82. Angle of Repose (1971) Wallace Stegner (1909-1993)

83. A Bend in the River (1979) V.S. Naipaul (1932-) http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/06/07/specials/naipaul-river.html

84. The Death of the Heart (1938) Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973)

85. Lord Jim (1900) Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098conrad-jim.html

86. Ragtime (1975) E.L. Doctorow (1931-) http://www.nytimes.com/specials/ragtime/rag-novel.html

87. The Old Wives' Tale (1908) Arnold Bennett (1867-1931)

88. The Call of the Wild (1903) Jack London (1876-1916)

89. Loving (1945) Henry Green (1905-1974)

90. Midnight's Children (1980) Salman Rushdie (1947-) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098rushdie-children.html

91. Tobacco Road (1932) Erskine Caldwell (1903-1987) http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098caldwell-tobacco.html

92. Ironweed (1983) William Kennedy http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098kennedy-ironweed.html

93. The Magus (1965) John Fowles (1926-) http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/05/31/specials/fowles-magus1.html

94. Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) Jean Rhys (1890-1979)

95. Under the Net (1954) Iris Murdoch (1919-1999)

96. Sophie's Choice (1979) William Styron (1925-)

97. The Sheltering Sky (1949) Paul Bowles (1910-) http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/05/17/specials/bowles-sheltering.html

98. The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) James M. Cain (1892-1977)

99. The Ginger Man (1955) J.P. Donleavy (1926-)

100. The Magnificent Ambersons (1918) Booth Tarkington (1869-1946)

 The 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century, as compiled by students of the Radcliffe Publishing Course

1. "The Great Gatsby," F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. "The Catcher in the Rye," J.D. Salinger
3. "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck
4. "To Kill a Mockingbird," Harper Lee
5. "The Color Purple," Alice Walker
6. "Ulysses," James Joyce
7. "Beloved," Toni Morrison
8. "The Lord of the Flies," William Golding
9. "1984," George Orwell
10. "The Sound and the Fury," William Faulkner
11. "Lolita," Vladmir Nabokov
12. "Of Mice and Men," John Steinbeck
13. "Charlotte's Web," E.B. White
14. "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," James Joyce
15. "Catch-22," Joseph Heller
16. "Brave New World," Aldous Huxley
17. "Animal Farm," George Orwell
18. "The Sun Also Rises," Ernest Hemingway
19. "As I Lay Dying," William Faulkner
20. "A Farewell to Arms," Ernest Hemingway
21. "Heart of Darkness," Joseph Conrad
22. "Winnie-the-Pooh," A.A. Milne
23. "Their Eyes are Watching God," Zora Neale Hurston
24. "Invisible Man," Ralph Ellison
25. "Song of Solomon," Toni Morrison
26. "Gone with the Wind," Margaret Mitchell
27. "Native Son," Richard Wright
28. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," Ken Kesey
29. "Slaughterhouse Five," Kurt Vonnegut
30. "For Whom the Bell Tolls," Ernest Hemingway
31. "On the Road," Jack Kerouac
32. "The Old Man and the Sea," Ernest Hemingway
33. "The Call of the Wild," Jack London
34. "To the Lighthouse," Virginia Woolf
35. "Portrait of a Lady," Henry James
36. "Go Tell it on the Mountain," James Baldwin
37. "The World According to Garp," John Irving
38. "All the King's Men," Robert Penn Warren
39. "A Room with a View," E.M. Forster
40. "The Lord of the Rings," J.R.R. Tolkien
41. "Schindler's List," Thomas Keneally
42. "The Age of Innocence," Edith Wharton
43. "The Fountainhead," Ayn Rand
44. "Finnegans Wake," James Joyce
45. "The Jungle," Upton Sinclair
46. "Mrs. Dalloway," Virginia Woolf
47. "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," Frank L. Baum
48. "Lady Chatterley's Lover," D.H. Lawrence
49. "A Clockwork Orange," Anthony Burgess
50. "The Awakening," Kate Chopin
51. "My Antonia," Willa Cather
52. "Howard's End," E.M. Forster
53. "In Cold Blood," Truman Capote
54. "Franny and Zooey," J.D. Salinger
55. "Satanic Verses," Salman Rushdie
56. "Jazz," Toni Morrison
57. "Sophie's Choice," William Styron
58. "Absalom, Absalom!" William Faulkner
59. "Passage to India," E.M. Forster
60. "Ethan Frome," Edith Wharton
61. "A Good Man is Hard to Find," Flannery O'Connor
62. "Tender is the Night," F. Scott Fitzgerald
63. "Orlando," Virginia Woolf
64. "Sons and Lovers," D.H. Lawrence
65. "Bonfire of the Vanities," Thomas Wolfe
66. "Cat's Cradle," Kurt Vonnegut
67. "A Separate Peace," John Knowles
68. "Light in August," William Faulkner
69. "The Wings of the Dove," Henry James
70. "Things Fall Apart," Chinua Achebe
71. "Rebecca," Daphne du Maurier
72. "A Hithchiker's Guide to the Galaxy," Douglas Adams
73. "Naked Lunch," William S. Burroughs
74. "Brideshead Revisited," Evelyn Waugh
75. "Women in Love," D.H. Lawrence
76. "Look Homeward, Angel," Thomas Wolfe
77. "In Our Time," Ernest Hemingway
78. "The Autobiography of Alice B. Tokias," Gertrude Stein
79. "The Maltese Falcon," Dashiell Hammett
80. "The Naked and the Dead," Norman Mailer
81. "The Wide Sargasso Sea," Jean Rhys
82. "White Noise," Don DeLillo
83. "O Pioneers!" Willa Cather
84. "Tropic of Cancer," Henry Miller
85. "The War of the Worlds," HG Wells
86. "Lord Jim," Joseph Conrad
87. "The Bostonians," James Henry
88. "An American Tragedy," Theodore Dreiser
89. "Death Comes for the Archbishop," Willa Cather
90. "The Wind in the Willows," Kenneth Grahame
91. "This Side of Paradise," F. Scott Fitzgerald
92. "Atlas Shrugged," Ayn Rand
93. "The French Lieutenant's Woman," John Fowles
94. "Babbitt," Sinclair Lewis
95. "Kim," Rudyard Kipling
96. "The Beautiful and the Damned," F. Scott Fitzgerald
97. "Rabbit, Run," John Updike
98. "Where Angels Fear to Tread," EM Forster
99. "Main Street," Sinclair Lewis
100. "Midnight's Children," Salman Rushdie

 

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