If I must make a list of the Ten Greatest Books of All Time, my first vow is to make the list for myself, not for anybody else. I am sure than Cervantes's "Don Quixote" is a great book but it's not going on my list simply so I can impress people. Nor will I avoid "Anna Karenina" simply because it's so popular: I love it all the same.
If I have a criterion for choosing the greatest books, it's an emotional one. These are books that moved me deeply in one way or another. Books are a great art form ever conceived for generating emotions in its readers. That's what books do best. (If you argue instead for dance or music, drama or painting, I will reply that the books incorporate all of these arts).
Books are not very good, on the other hand, at intellectual, philosophical or political argument. That's where the Marxists were wrong. If a book changes your vote or your mind, it does so by appealing to your emotions, not your reason. And so my greatest books must be books that have me sitting transfixed on my couch, involved, committed, and feeling. Therefore, they are:
Anna Karenina (Russian) (sometimes anglicized as Anna Karenin) is a novel by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, published in serial installments from 1873 to 1877 in the periodical The Russian Messenger. Tolstoy clashed with its editor Mikhail Katkov over political issues that arose in the final installment (Tolstoy's unpopular views of volunteers going to Serbia); therefore, the novel's first complete appearance was in book form.
Widely regarded as a pinnacle in realist fiction, Tolstoy considered Anna Karenina his first true novel, when he came to consider War and Peace to be more than a novel. Soon after meeting Pushkin at a dinner, Tolstoy began reading his prose, and once had a fleeting daydream of "a bare exquisite aristocratic elbow", which proved to be the first indication of Anna's character.
Although Russian critics dismissed the novel on its publication as a "trifling romance of high life" Feodor Dostoevsky declared it to be "flawless as a work of art". His opinion was shared by Vladimir Nabokov, who especially admired "the flawless magic of Tolstoy's style", and by William Faulkner, who described the novel as "the best ever written". The novel is currently enjoying popularity, as demonstrated by a recent poll of 125 contemporary authors by J. Peder Zane, published in 2007 in The Top Ten, which declared that Anna Karenina is the "greatest novel ever written".This is also my opinion.
Belle du Seigneur is a 1968 novel by the Swiss writer Albert Cohen. Set in Geneva in the 1930s, the narrative revolves around a Mediterranean Jew employed by the League of Nations, and his romance with a married Swiss aristocrat. The novel is the standalone third part in a series of four; it follows Solal of the Solals and Nailcruncher, and precedes Les Valeureux. It received the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie franéaise. An English-language film adaptation starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Natalia Vodianova is set to be released in 2012.
Emma Klein of The Independent wrote in 1995: "Notwithstanding passages of lyricism which rival the Song of Songs, Belle du Seigneur is more than a love story. At root, with its superb, minutely observed satire of human pretensions and frailties, its frequent, haunting allusions to death lurking in wait, it is the scriptural 'Vanity of Vanities' made pulsating, exuberant flesh.". This novel is considered the best French novel of the 20th century. It is the best love story I ever have read. I was completely taken away by this novel.
Madame Bovary (1856) is Gustave Flaubert's first published novel and is considered by many critics to be a masterpiece. The story focuses on a doctor's wife, Emma Bovary, who has adulterous affairs and lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life. Though the basic plot is rather simple, even archetypal, the novel's true art lies in its details and hidden patterns. Flaubert was a notorious perfectionist and claimed always to be searching for le mot juste ("the right word").
When it was first serialized in La Revue de Paris between 1 October 1856 and 15 December 1856, the novel was attacked for obscenity by public prosecutors. The resulting trial, held in January 1857, made the story notorious. After Flaubert's acquittal on 7 February 1857, Madame Bovary became a bestseller when it was published as a single volume in April 1857. Flaubert's masterpiece is now considered a seminal work of Realism and one of the most influential novels ever written. In fact, the notable, British-American critic, James Wood writes in How Fiction Works, "Flaubert established for good or ill, what most readers think of as modern realist narration, and his influence is almost too familiar to be visible".
War and Peace was first published from 1865 to 1869 in Russkii Vestnik, which tells the story of Russian society during the Napoleonic Era. It is usually described as one of Tolstoy�s two major masterpieces (the other being Anna Karenina) as well as one of the world�s greatest novels. This panoramic study of early 19th-century Russian society, noted for its mastery of realistic detail and variety of psychological analysis, is regarded by me as one of the world's greatest novels. War and Peace is primarily concerned with the histories of five aristocratic families--particularly the Bezukhovs, the Bolkonskys, and the Rostovs--the members of which are portrayed against a vivid background of Russian social life during the war against Napoleon (1805-14). The theme of war, however, is subordinate to the story of family existence, which involves Tolstoy's optimistic belief in the life-asserting pattern of human existence. The novel also sets forth a theory of history, concluding that there is a minimum of free choice; all is ruled by an inexorable historical determinism.
1984 by George Orwell. A book that masterfully works in two ways. It's a brilliant allegory on the horrors of communism, which is absolutely terrifying. But it's also a wonderfully written novel with some amazing characterization and language. This is what literature should be - stripped of pretension, absolutely amazing and unforgettable. A book not to miss.
As literary political fiction and as science-fiction, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a classic novel in content, plot, and style. Many of its terms and concepts, such as Big Brother, doublethink, thought crime,Newspeak, and memory hole, have become contemporary vernacular since its publication in 1949. Moreover, Nineteen Eighty-Four popularized the adjective Orwellian, which refers to official deception, secret surveillance, and manipulation of the past in service to a totalitarian or manipulative political agenda
To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a classic of modern American literature. The plot and characters are loosely based on the author's observations of her family and neighbors, as well as on an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was 10 years old.
The novel is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality. The narrator's father, Atticus Finch, has served as a moral hero for many readers and as a model of integrity for lawyers. One critic explains the novel's impact by writing, "In the twentieth century, To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the most widely read book dealing with race in America, and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism."
As a Southern Gothic novel and a Bildungsroman, the primary themes of To Kill a Mockingbird involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. Scholars have noted that Lee also addresses issues of class, courage, compassion, and gender roles in the American Deep South.
The Emigrants (Swedish: Utvandrarna) is a novel by the Swedish author Vilhelm Moberg from 1949. It is the first part of the The Emigrants suite.
The story takes place in the 1840s up to 1850. The first part of the novel describes the hardships faced by rural families in Sweden. Karl Oskar Nilsson and his wife, Kristina, own a farm in Ljuder Socken in Sm�land. They have four children and work hard to make a living, but the poor harvests lead to famine, a catalyst for the beginnings of emigration to the United States in search of a better life. Karl Oskar and his brother Robert want to go, but Kristina doesn't want to leave her home country, knowing that she will never see the rest of their family again. But after the death of their oldest child, she accepts her husband's plans when she realizes that they are in just as much danger from their lives in Sweden as on the big sea and in a New World.
They pack up all their belongings and book passage in a group with others from their parish. The characters illustrate some of the motives that prompted people to leave Sweden in the 19th century. This is in my opinion the best Swedish book ever written. It is translated to English.
Pippi Longstocking (Swedish Pippi L�ngstrump) is a fictional character in a series of children's books by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, and adapted into multiple films and television series. Pippi was named by Lindgren's then nine-year-old daughter, Karin, who requested a get-well story from her mother one day when she was home sick from school.
Nine-year-old Pippi is unconventional, assertive, and has superhuman strength, being able to lift her horse one-handed without difficulty. She frequently mocks and dupes adults she encounters, an attitude likely to appeal to young readers; however, Pippi usually reserves her worst behavior for the most pompous and condescending of adults. Pippi's anger is reserved for the most extreme cases, such as when a man ill-treats her horse. Like Peter Pan, Pippi does not want to grow up. She is the daughter of a buccaneer captain and as such has adventurous stories to tell. She has four best friends, two animals (her horse and a monkey) and two humans, the neighbor's children Tommy and Annika.
The Little Prince (French: 'Le Petit Prince'), first published in 1943, is a novella and the most famous work of the French aristocrat writer, poet and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900�1944, Mort pour la France).
The novella is both the most read and most translated book in the French language, and was voted the best book of the 20th century in France. Translated into more than 250 languages and dialects,selling over a million copies per year with sales totaling over 200 million copies worldwide, it has become one of the best-selling books ever published.
Saint-Exup�ry, a laureate of several of France's highest literary awards and a reserve military pilot at the start of the Second World War, wrote and illustrated the manuscript while exiled in the United States after the Fall of France. He had traveled there on a personal mission to convince its government to quickly enter the war against Nazi Germany. In the midst of personal upheavals and failing health he produced almost half of the writings he would be remembered for, including a tender tale of loneliness, friendship, love and loss, in the form of a young prince fallen to Earth.
An earlier memoir by the author recounted his aviation experiences in the Sahara desert and he is thought to have drawn on those same experiences for use as plot elements in The Little Prince. Since first being published the novella has been adapted to various media over the decades, including audio recordings, stage, screen, ballet and operatic works. This book made the deepest impression �n me then I read it. I was then 20 years old. It transformed my life.And Then There Were None is a detective fiction novel by Agatha Christie, first published in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club on 6 November 1939 under the title Ten Little Niggers. The title was changed in the United States by Dodd, Mead and Company in January 1940 to Ten Little Indians, as the original title, which originally derived from antiquated English terminology, is considered racist by modern standards. In the novel, ten people, who have previously been complicit in the deaths of others but have escaped notice or punishment, are tricked into coming onto an island. Although the guests are the only people on the island, each is murdered one by one, in a manner paralleling, inexorably and sometimes grotesquely, the old nursery rhyme, Ten Little Indians. edition aIt was republished in May 2001, by St Martin's Paperback Editions as And Then There Were None, because of the controversy over the former title. The novel was made into several films.
It is Christie's best-selling novel with 100 million sales to date, making it the world's best-selling mystery ever, and one of the best-selling books of all time (Publications International lists it as 7th best-selling).It has been adapted into several plays, films, and a video game. This is the best detective novel I ever read.
Gone with the Wind, first published in 1936, is a romance novel written by Margaret Mitchell, who received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for the book in 1937. The story is set in Clayton County, Georgia and Atlanta during the American Civil War and Reconstruction, and depicts the experiences of Scarlett O'Hara, the spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner, who must use every means at her disposal to come out of the poverty she finds herself in after Sherman's March to the Sea. The book is the source of the 1939 film of the same name.
Margaret Mitchell began writing Gone with the Wind in 1926 to pass the time while recovering from an auto-crash injury that refused to heal. In April 1935, Harold Latham of Macmillan, an editor who was looking for new fiction, read what she had written and saw that it could be a best-seller. After Latham agreed to publish the book, Mitchell worked for another six months checking the historical references, and rewrote the opening chapter several times. Mitchell and her husband John Marsh, a copy editor by trade, edited the final version of the novel. Mitchell wrote the book's final moments first, and then wrote the events that lead up to it. As to what became of her star-crossed lovers, Rhett and Scarlett, after the novel ended, Mitchell did not know, and said, "For all I know, Rhett may have found someone else who was less difficult."Gone with the Wind is the only novel by Mitchell published during her lifetime.
The Razor�s Edge is a book by W. Somerset Maugham published in 1944. Its epigraph reads, "The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard," taken from a verse in the Katha-Upanishad.
The Razor�s Edge tells the story of Larry Darrell, an American pilot traumatized by his experiences in World War I, who sets off in search of some transcendent meaning in his life. The story begins through the eyes of Larry�s friends and acquaintances as they witness his personality change after the War. His rejection of conventional life and search for meaningful experience allows him to thrive while the more materialistic characters suffer reversals of fortune. The book was twice adapted into film, first in 1946 starring Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney, and Herbert Marshall as Maugham, and then a 1984 adaptation starring Bill Murray. A great part of the action takes place in Paris. When I read the book I was captures by Larry's character but maybe more of what I read about Paris. My curiosity about Paris and strong desire to see for myself if the reality represented what I read were growing strong. To satisfy this desire is the reason and the motive for my first Paris trip which would prove to change my whole life.