The 100 greatest novels of all time
We list the 100 greatest and best novels of all time here for your reference. You can leave your comments and opinions.
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100 Best Novels of All Time (Until year 2000)
1. Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes
The story of the gentle knight and his servant Sancho Panza has entranced readers for centuries.
2. Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
The entire book is presented as a dream sequence narrated by an omniscient narrator. The allegory’s protagonist, Christian, is an everyman character, and the plot centres on his journey from his hometown, the City of Destruction to the Celestial City atop Mount Zion.
3. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
The first English novel.The first edition credited the work’s protagonist Robinson Crusoe as its author, leading many readers to believe he was a real person and the book a travelogue of true incidents.
4. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
A wonderful satire that still works for all ages, despite the savagery of Swift’s vision.
5. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
The adventures of a high-spirited orphan boy: an unbeatable plot and a lot of sex ending in a blissful marriage.
6. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson
One of the longest novels in the English language. It tells the tragic story of a young woman, Clarissa Harlowe, whose quest for virtue is continually thwarted by her family.
7. Tristram by Shandy Laurence Sterne
One of the first bestsellers, dismissed by Dr Johnson as too fashionable for its own good.
8. Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos De Laclos
An epistolary novel and a handbook for seducers: foppish, French, and ferocious.
9. Emma by Jane Austen
Near impossible choice between this and Pride and Prejudice. But Emma never fails to fascinate and annoy.
10. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Inspired by spending too much time with Shelley and Byron. Frankenstein is a frame story written in epistolary form. It documents a fictional correspondence between Captain Robert Walton and his sister, Margaret Walton Saville.
11. Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock
Deep in the fens of the British coast sits the gloomy mansion that goes by the name Nightmare Abbey. It is inhabited by persons of very low opinion of the human race, and in fact they pride themselves in the depths of their detestation.
12. The Black Sheep Honoré De Balzac
Two rivals fight for the love of a femme fatale. Wrongly overlooked.
13. The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal
Penetrating and compelling chronicle of life in an Italian court in post-Napoleonic France.
14. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
A revenge thriller also set in France after Bonaparte: a masterpiece of adventure writing. Dumas’s five best novels
15. Sybil by Benjamin Disraeli
Apart from Churchill, no other British political figure shows literary genius. Originally in treatment for social anxiety and memory loss, after extended therapy involving amobarbital and hypnosis interviews, Sybil manifests sixteen personalities.
16. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
In David Copperfield, we follow the life of the titular character as he makes a life for himself in England. He finds himself in the care of a cold stepfather who sends him to boarding school, and from there embarks on a journey filled with characters and events.
17. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Emily Brontë’s only novel, published in 1847 under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, tells the tale of the all-encompassing and passionate, yet thwarted, love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and many around them.
18. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Obsessive emotional grip and haunting narrative. an orphan who survives neglect and abuse to become a governess at the remote Thornfield Hall.
19. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
The improving tale of Becky Sharp; a novel that satirizes society in early 19th-century England.
20. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
A classic investigation of the American mind. Set in a 17th century Puritan Boston Bay colony – the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives her daughter Pearl, following an affair with a respected, unnamed figure.
21. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
The book is the sailor Ishmael’s narrative of the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaling ship Pequod, for revenge against Moby Dick, the giant white sperm whale that on the ship’s previous voyage bit off Ahab’s leg at the knee.
22. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
You could summarise this as a story of adultery in provincial France, and miss the point entirely.
23. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Gripping mystery novel of concealed identity, abduction, fraud and mental cruelty. In this story, one of the earliest examples of detective fiction, a chance encounter with a mysterious and distressed young woman dressed entirely in white plunges young art teacher Walter Hartright into a maelstrom of mystery, deceit, blackmail and sudden violent death.
24. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
A story written for the nine-year-old daughter of an Oxford don that still baffles most kids.
25. Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott
Victorian bestseller about a New England family of girls. As the novel opens, their father is away at war, and the girls are struggling to be good and to reconcile themselves to their relative poverty.
26. The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
A majestic assault on the corruption of late Victorian England, The Way We Live Now is particularly rich in sub-plot. It was inspired by the financial scandals of the early 1870s, and lashes at the pervading dishonesty of the age, commercial, political, moral, and intellectual.
27. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The supreme novel of the married woman’s passion for a younger man. Acclaimed by many as the world’s greatest novel, Anna Karenina provides a vast panorama of contemporary life in Russia and of humanity in general.
28. Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
A passion and an exotic grandeur that is strange and unsettling.
29. The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoevsky
Mystical tragedy by the author of Crime and Punishment.
30. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
The story of Isabel Archer shows James at his witty and polished best.
31. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Twain was a humorist, but this picture of Mississippi life is profoundly moral and still incredibly influential.
32. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson
A brilliantly suggestive, resonant study of human duality by a natural storyteller.
33. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
One of the funniest English books ever written.
34. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
A coded and epigrammatic melodrama inspired by his own tortured homosexuality.
35. The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith
This classic of Victorian suburbia will always be renowned for the character of Mr Pooter.
36. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
Its savage bleakness makes it one of the first twentieth-century novels.
37. The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers
A prewar invasion-scare spy thriller by a writer later shot for his part in the Irish republican rising.
38. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
The story of a dog who joins a pack of wolves after his master’s death.
39. Nostromo by Joseph Conrad
Conrad’s masterpiece: a tale of money, love and revolutionary politics. A gripping tale of capitalist exploitation and rebellion, set amid the mist-shrouded mountains of a fictional South American republic, employs flashbacks and glimpses of the future to depict the lure of silver and its effects on men.
40. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
This children’s classic was inspired by bedtime stories for Grahame’s son.
41. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
An unforgettable portrait of Paris in the belle époque. Probably the longest novel on this list.
42. The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence
Novels seized by the police, like this one, have a special afterlife.
43. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
This account of the adulterous lives of two Edwardian couples is a classic of unreliable narration.
44. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
A classic adventure story for boys, jammed with action, violence and suspense.
45. Ulysses by James Joyce
Also pursued by the British police, this is a novel more discussed than read.Captivating experimental techniques range from interior monologues to exuberant wordplay and earthy humor. A major achievement in 20th century literature.
46. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Secures Woolf’s position as one of the great twentieth-century English novelists.This is a vivid portrait of a single day in a woman’s life.
47. A Passage to India by EM Forster
Forster’s great love song to India.A Passage to India compellingly depicts the fate of individuals caught between the great political and cultural conflicts of the modern world.
48. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The quintessential Jazz Age novel. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.
49. The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
A novel about Hollywood and its corrupting touch, about the American dream turned into a sun-drenched California nightmare.
50. Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway
He is remembered for his novels, but it was the short stories that first attracted notice.
51. Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine
The experiences of an unattractive slum doctor during the Great War: a masterpiece of linguistic innovation.Filled with slang and obscenities and written in raw, colloquial language, this novel is a literary symphony of violence, cruelty and obscene nihilism.
52. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
A strange black comedy by an American master.
53. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Dystopian fantasy about the world of the seventh century AF (after Ford).
54. Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
The supreme Fleet Street novel.
55. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
A nineteenth-century boy from a Mississippi River town recounts his adventures as he travels down the river with a runaway slave, encountering a family involved in a feud, two scoundrels pretending to be royalty, and Tom Sawyer’s aunt who mistakes him for Tom.
56. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Introducing Philip Marlowe: cool, sharp, handsome – and bitterly alone. Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid….He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man.
57. The Pursuit Of Love by Nancy Mitford
An exquisite comedy of manners with countless fans.
58. The Plague by Albert Camus
A mysterious plague sweeps through the Algerian town of Oran.
59. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
1984 is still the great modern classic of “negative utopia”—a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing. This tale of one man’s struggle against totalitarianism has been appropriated the world over. Also author of Animal Farm. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals.
60. Malone Dies by Samuel Beckett
Part of a trilogy of astonishing monologues in the black comic voice of the author of Waiting for Godot.
61. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
A week in the life of Holden Caulfield. A cult novel that still mesmerises.The Catcher in the Rye is an all-time classic in coming-of-age literature- an elegy to teenage alienation, capturing the deeply human need for connection and the bewildering sense of loss as we leave childhood behind.
62. Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor
A disturbing novel of religious extremism set in the Deep South.
63. Charlotte’s Web by EB White
How Wilbur the pig was saved by the literary genius of a friendly spider.
64. The Lord Of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.It tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring.
65. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
An astonishing debut: the painfully funny English novel of the Fifties.
66. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Schoolboys become savages: a bleak vision of human nature. At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate; this far from civilization the boys can do anything they want. Anything.
67. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
Prophetic novel set in 1950s Vietnam.
68 On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The Beat Generation bible.Jack Kerouac’s years traveling the N. American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, “a sideburned hero of the snowy West.”
This classic novel of freedom & longing defined what it meant to be “Beat” & has inspired every generation since its initial publication.
69. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Humbert Humbert – scholar, aesthete and romantic – has fallen completely and utterly in love with Dolores Haze, his landlady’s gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Reluctantly agreeing to marry Mrs Haze just to be close to Lolita, Humbert suffers greatly in the pursuit of romance.
70. The Tin Drum by Günter Grass
On his third birthday Oskar decides to stop growing. Haunted by the deaths of his parents and wielding his tin drum Oskar recounts the events of his extraordinary life; from the long nightmare of the Nazi era to his anarchic adventures in post-war Germany.
71. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Nigeria at the beginning of colonialism. A classic of African literature.
72. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
A writer who made her debut in The Observer – and her prose is like cut glass.
73. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Scout, a six-year-old girl, narrates an enthralling story of racial prejudice in the Deep South.The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it.
74. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. ‘He would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.’
75. Herzog by Saul Bellow
Adultery and nervous breakdown in Chicago.Moses Herzog, a great sufferer, joker, mourner, and charmer. Although his life steadily disintegrates around him – he has failed as a writer and teacher, as a father, and has lost the affection of his wife to his best friend – Herzog sees himself as a survivor, both of his private disasters and those of the age.
76. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
A postmodern masterpiece. The brilliant, bestselling, landmark novel that tells the story of the Buendia family, and chronicles the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love.
77. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor
A haunting, understated study of old age.
78. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré
A thrilling elegy for post-imperial Britain.
79. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
The definitive novelist of the African-American experience.
80. The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge
Macabre comedy of provincial life.
81. The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer
This quasi-documentary account of the life and death of Gary Gilmore is possibly his masterpiece.
82. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino
A strange, compelling story about the pleasures of reading.
83. A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul
The finest living writer of English prose. This is his masterpiece: edgily reminiscent of Heart of Darkness.
84. Waiting for the Barbarians by JM Coetzee
Bleak but haunting allegory of apartheid by the Nobel prizewinner.
85. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
Haunting, poetic story, drowned in water and light, about three generations of women. Ruth and Lucille’s struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transience.
86. Lanark by Alasdair Gray
Seething vision of Glasgow. A Scottish classic.
87. The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
Dazzling metaphysical thriller set in the Manhattan of the 1970s.
88. The BFG by Roald Dahl
A bestseller by the most popular postwar writer for children of all ages.
89. Jin Ping Mei or The Golden Lotus by Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng
The story, ostensibly set during the years 1111–1127 (during the Northern Song dynasty), centers on Ximen Qing, a corrupt social climber and lustful merchant who is wealthy enough to marry six wives and concubines.There are 72 detailed sexual episodes.
90. Money by Martin Amis
The story of John Self and his insatiable appetite for money, alcohol, fast food, drugs, pornography, and more, Money is ceaselessly inventive and thrillingly savage; a tale of life lived without restraint, of money and the disasters it can precipitate.
91. An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
A collaborator from prewar Japan reluctantly discloses his betrayal of friends and family.
92. Oscar And Lucinda by Peter Carey
A great contemporary love story set in nineteenth-century Australia by double Booker prizewinner.
93. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera
Inspired by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, this is a magical fusion of history, autobiography and ideas.
94. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
In this entrancing story Rushdie plays with the idea of narrative itself.
95. LA Confidential by James Ellroy
Three LAPD detectives are brought face to face with the secrets of their corrupt and violent careers.
96. Wise Children by Angela Carter
A theatrical extravaganza by a brilliant exponent of magic realism.
97. Atonement by Ian McEwan
Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.
98. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
Lyra’s quest weaves fantasy, horror and the play of ideas into a truly great contemporary children’s book.
99. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
For years, Roth was famous for Portnoy’s Complaint . Recently, he has enjoyed an extraordinary revival.
100. Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald
Posthumously published volume in a sequence of dream-like fictions spun from memory, photographs and the German past.
Recommended to the List
1.The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
The tragedy of the Compson family features some of the most memorable characters in literature: beautiful, rebellious Caddy; the manchild Benjy; haunted, neurotic Quentin; Jason, the brutal cynic; and Dilsey, their black servant. Their lives fragmented and harrowed by history and legacy, the character’s voices and actions mesh to create what is arguably Faulkner’s masterpiece.
2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Narnia… the land beyond the wardrobe door, a secret place frozen in eternal winter, a magical country waiting to be set free.
3.The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America.
4.Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Scarlett O’Hara, the beautiful, spoiled daughter of a well-to-do Georgia plantation owner, must use every means at her disposal to claw her way out of the poverty she finds herself in after Sherman’s March to the Sea.
5. Watchmen by Alan Moore
This Hugo Award-winning graphic novel chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Watchmen has been studied on college campuses across the nation.
6. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.
7.Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Since its immediate success in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has remained one of the most popular novels in the English language. Jane Austen called this brilliant work “her own darling child” and its vivacious heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, “as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print.”
8.Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, a Napoleon: acting for a higher purpose beyond conventional moral law.
9.An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
The story of Clyde Griffiths, who spends his life in the desperate pursuit of success.
10. Beloved by Toni Morrison
A spellbinding and dazzlingly innovative portrait of a woman haunted by the past.
11.The Odyssey by Homer
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns, driven time and again off course, once he had plundered,the hallowed heights of Troy.
So begins Robert Fagles’ magnificent translation of the Odyssey. This is an Odyssey to delight both the classicist and the public at large, and to captivate a new generation of Homer’s students.
12. The Trial by Franz Kafka
The terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and must defend himself against a charge about which he can get no information. Whether read as an existential tale, a parable, or a prophecy of the excesses of modern bureaucracy wedded to the madness of totalitarianism, The Trial has resonated with chilling truth for generations of readers.
13.War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
In Russia’s struggle with Napoleon, Tolstoy saw a tragedy that involved all mankind. Greater than a historical chronicle, War and Peace is an affirmation of life itself, `a complete picture’, as a contemporary reviewer put it, `of everything in which people find their happiness and greatness, their grief and humiliation’.
14. The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata
Ogata Shingo is growing old, and his memory is failing him. At night he hears only the sound of death in the distant rumble from the mountain. The relationships which have previously defined his life – with his son, his wife, and his attractive daughter-in-law – are dissolving, and Shingo is caught between love and destruction.
15.Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
Set in Lawrence’s native Nottinghamshire, Sons and Lovers is a highly autobiographical and compelling portrayal of childhood, adolescence and the clash of generations.
16.Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
With buried treasure, treacherous buccaneers, a young hero, and Long John Silver, the one-legged villain, Treasure Island remains one of the most popular of pirate adventures.
17.The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
The novel is actually a story within a story.The novel opens in the 1940’s with the protagonist, Daniel, a boy whose father owns a bookshop in Barcelona. One day, his father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten books – a secret labyrinthine library that houses rare and banned books. Daniel is drawn to one called “The Shadow of the Wind” by Julian Carax and takes it home with him.
18. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
The novels chronicle the lives of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main story arc concerns Harry’s struggle against Lord Voldemort, a dark wizard who intends to become immortal, overthrow the wizard governing body known as the Ministry of Magic and subjugate all wizards and Muggles.
19.The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Originally written in Portuguese, an allegorical novel, The Alchemist follows a young Andalusian shepherd in his journey to the pyramids of Egypt, after having a recurring dream of finding a treasure there.
20. Animal Farm by George Orwell
The novel tells the story of a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer, hoping to create a society where the animals can be equal, free, and happy. Ultimately, the rebellion is betrayed, and the farm ends up in a state as bad as it was before, under the dictatorship of a pig named Napoleon.
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