Re: Read Literature 10th Anniversary Poll
Posted by guillermo maynez on 23/8/2011, 10:03:39, in reply to "Re: Read Literature 10th Anniversary Poll"
Thank you Steven for this magnificent idea. As you said, I've been here from the start, and though I haven't read each and every book, I have read most by far. What this means is, it is a tough selection, but I've made the effort. Here are my lists: |
1. War and Peace - Tolstoy
2. The Magic Mountain - Man
3. Memoirs of Hadrian - Yourcenar
4. Sentimental Education - Flaubert
5. The War of the End of the World - Vargas Llosa
6. Life: a User's Manual - Perec
7. The Glass Bead Game - Hesse
8. Austerlitz - Sebald
9. A Suitable Boy - Seth
10. The Golem - Meyrink
Now an explanation on criteria: this is list is compiled not from a cerebral judgment, so these are not necessarily the ones that I intellectualy admire the most, but those which resonate more strongly with me. These are "dearest" books, not necessarily "best" books. For example: I am a great admirer of Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment", I think it is the most brilliant exploration ever penned about guilt and remorse, but precisely because of its subject, it is frightening and sordid. So, it is a masterpiece, I would read it again, but it's not one of my "dearest" books. Same for "The Red and the Black" by Stendhal.
I feel the same as Sterling about "Sentimental Education" and for "The Sheltering Sky".
Some honorable mentions:
"Zorba the Greek": beautiful, life-affirming book, superb writing.
"Lolita": should be on my list, but somehow didn't make it. Magnificently wicked"The Gentleman from San Francisco": Poetic, precise writing, evocative, Russian to the bone.
1. The Inheritance of Loss - Desai
2. Waiting for my Cats to Die - Horn
3. Oryx and Crake - Atwood
4. Rituals - Nootebom
5. Death in Rome - Koeppen
BEST DISCOVERIES (authors I didn't know existed and I loved):
1. Street of Crocodiles - Schultz
2. The Master (Toibin)
3. Suite Francaise - Nemirovsky
ANTI-PREJUDICE (Authors I thought I wouldn't like but I did):
1. The Witches of Eastwick (Updike)
MOST MEMORABLE CHARACTERS:
1. The Cat - Master and Margarita - Bulgakov
2. Zorba - Zorba the Greek - Kazantzakis
3. Settembrini - Magic Mountain - Mann
4. Pierre Bezukhov - War and Peace - Tolstoy
5. Humbert Humbert - Lolita - Nabokov
6. Jacques - Jacques the Fatalist - Diderot
7. Count Fosco - Woman in White - Collins
8. Smerdyakov - Crime and Punsihment - Dostoevsky
9. Des Esseintes - Against the Grain - Huysmans
10. Matti Donnay - A Very Long Engagement - Japrisot
That's it!... for the moment
: Okay, I'll go first. I warn you, I've only read one (!)
: novel from the first three years ( The Sheltering Sky
: ), and only two from year four ( Tender Is the Night
: and Neverwhere ). In year five (2005), I've actually
: read four our of six. I haven't read The Kite Runner
: (which I believe is the only "thumbs down"
: novel ever) or Snow (which is by Lale's bête noire,
: Orhan Pamuk.) Again, in year six, I've only read one
: ( The Man Who Was Thursday ). After that, I've read
: many, if not most of the titles. I start with this
: caveat, because it is extremely likely that my list
: would be very different if I had been here from the
: start. Oh well. Here's my list:
: 1. Sentimental Education - Flaubert
: 2. The Idiot - Dostoevsky
: 3. Invisible Man - Ellison
: 4. The Street of Crocodiles - Schulz
: 5. Wittgenstein's Mistress - Markson
: 6. Lolita - Nabokov
: 7. The Master and Margarita - Bulgakov
: 8. The Magic Mountain - Mann
: 9. Tender Is the Night - Fitzgerald
: 10. A Suitable Boy - Seth
: I love Dickens and thought of including Our Mutual
: Friend , but frankly, I didn't like that novel as much
: as some others. Now if Bleak House , or possibly
: Great Expectations or Little Dorrit had been on the
: list, Dickens would surely have ranked high.
: Sometimes you feel a connection to a work of art that
: you can't explain or entirely defend. Such is my
: regard for Sentimental Education . There is scarcely
: a sympathetic character in the novel, but somehow
: Flaubert coaxes me to empathize and even identify with
: characters with whom I have little in common and
: certainly do not admire -- in particular Frédéric
: Moreau. ("Madame Bovary, c'est moi.")
: Stendhal managed a similar feat in The Red and the
: Black , which would certainly be an honorable mention
: on my list.
: By contrast, I occasionally come across a work of art
: that I intellectually admire, but from which I
: instinctively recoil. Such is my response to The
: Sheltering Sky. This is the "feel-bad"
: novel of all time for me. When I finished it I felt
: worse than any other work I can recall. It is
: probably the only novel that I regret reading (aside
: from the trivial time-wasters that I sometimes pick
: up). It therefore wins my "least favorite"
: The "best discovery" is surely The Street
: of Crocodiles . I had never heard of either this work
: or of Schulz. I found this slim volume magical.
: Somewhat reminiscent of Kafka, but not nearly as
: despairing. Filled with dream-like imagery firmly
: tethered to an Eastern European reality. A remarkable
: I would also like to call special attention to
: Invisible Man . Despite its many accolades, I had
: always avoided it because I assumed it would be
: another anti-racism screed. Instead it is a nuanced,
: absorbing, remarkable work filled with mystery and a
: touch of surrealism.
: Wittgenstein's Mistress also demands special
: attention Rarely have I read a novel that was
: simultaneously so experimental and so entertaining. I
: will certainly be reading it again.
: God knows who the "most memorable character"
: is. The character that immediately comes to mind is
: the giant, trigger-happy, vodka-swilling cat in The
: Master and Margarita . I read the book many years ago
: but he is still very vivid to me. What a character!
: To "compare and contrast, " as they used to
: say in English class, I've decided to include my list
: of all-time favorite novels. I have read all of them
: at least twice, many of them three times. I may well
: one of these day promote something I discovered here
: to my personal Top Ten. Anyway, here it is (in no
: particular order):
: Tom Jones - Fielding
: Moby Dick - Melville
: Bleak House - Dickens
: Ulysses - Joyce
: Sentimental Education - Flaubert
: The Idiot - Dostoevsky
: Gravity's Rainbow - Pynchon
: The Ambassadors - James
: The Sun Also Rises - Hemingway
: One Hundred Years of Solitude - Garcia Marquez
: As you can see, there is a two-book overlap between
: the lists, which in a way is remarkable considering
: all the books in the world.
: Anyway, here is my first draft. I may want to amend
: it on further reflection...