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Greatest British Novels I’ve Read

British Flag

When BBC Culture asked book critics to name the top 100 British novels and then published the results earlier this month, I couldn’t resist going through the list to see how many I’d read. As it turns out, I’ve only read 15 of them:

  • The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Laurence Sterne)
  • Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad)
  • Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift)
  • The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)
  • Jude the Obscure (Thomas Hardy)
  • Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell)
  • A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess)
  • David Copperfield (Charles Dickens)
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)
  • The Forsyte Saga (John Galsworthy)
  • Animal Farm (George Orwell)
  • A Room with a View (E.M. Forster)
  • Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro)
  • Sons and Lovers (D.H. Lawrence)

I do have Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf) on my Kindle, so sometime next year I’ll make it 16. Until then, however, I’ve got some nonfiction to catch up on.

For more from the BBC, see “What makes a ‘Great British Novel’?”

Chekhov’s Gun

Anton Chekhov

According to Wikipedia, Chekhov’s gun is a dramatic principle that every element in a narrative be irreplaceable and that anything else be removed. From Chekhov:

“Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”

Nice.

My James Joyce Shelf

James Joyce Shelf

Books currently on my James Joyce shelf:

  • Joyce Images (Cato and Vitiello)
  • Ulysses Annotated (Gifford)
  • James Joyce A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Writings (Fargnoli and Gillespie)
  • Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce’s Masterpiece (Kiberd)
  • James Joyce’s Dubliners: An Illustrated Edition (Jackson and McGinley)
  • James Joyce Letters Vol I (Gilbert)
  • James Joyce Letters Vol II (Ellman)
  • James Joyce (Ellman)
  • Joyce Annotated: Notes for Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Gifford)
  • Joyce’s Dublin: A Walking Guide to Ulysses (McCarthy and Rose)
  • Giacomo Joyce (James Joyce)
  • “Ulysses Map of Dublin” (Dublin Tourism Enterprises)
  • Ulysses (James Joyce)
  • Stephen Hero (James Joyce)
  • ReJoyce (Burgess)
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (James Joyce)
  • Finnegans Wake (James Joyce)
  • A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake (Campbell and Robinson)
  • James Joyce’s Ulysses (Gilbert)

My Top 10 Favorite Novels

Here are my top 10 favorite novels. Admittedly, language limitations have prevented me from reading several of these in the language in which they were originally written, but I list them here nevertheless, as I am no less in love with them as the result of having read translated versions. The list:

  • Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (James Joyce)
  • The Way of All Flesh (Samuel Butler)
  • The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Laurence Sterne)
  • Ulysses (James Joyce)
  • Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes)
  • Malone Dies (Samuel Beckett)
  • Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
  • Confessions of Zeno (Italo Svevo)
  • On the Road (Jack Kerouac)
  • Look Homeward, Angel (Thomas Wolfe)