Top 100 novels—bad list?
Posted: 28 January 2009 07:40 AM   [ Ignore ]  
Newbie
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  7
Joined  2009-01-28

http://www.randomhouse.com/modernlibrary/100bestnovels.html

I’m curious whether anybody thinks Ulysses is one of the worst books ever written.  Also, Finnegans Wake, in my opinion is undoubtedly one of the worst.  Please comment on which novels you think sucked.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 January 2009 02:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  951
Joined  2007-06-23
pete - 28 January 2009 12:40 PM

Please comment on which novels you think sucked.

Oh dear, so subjective. I’ve never understood why “Catch-22” is so revered, but I’m pleasantly surprised to find Kipling’s “Kim” on there.

What freaks me out a little more is that three L. Ron Hubbard books made the readers’ list!

 Signature 

He who is not a misanthrope at forty can never have loved mankind  -Chamfort

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 January 2009 07:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1646
Joined  2008-04-02

I gather that The Board’s list was created from a story in The New York Times. I did not find what criteria were used to make the list. It appears that it may have been created by someone with an interest in history.

Ayn Rand holds the top 2 spots on the Reader’s List. L. Ron Hubbard holds the 3rd spot. I could see no reason to pay any further attention to that list. I suspect that this type of online reader’s survey might attract some fanatical people who may not necessarily limit themselves to one vote.

 Signature 

Real honesty is accepting the theories that best explain the actual data even if those explanations contradict our cherished beliefs.-Scotty

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 January 2009 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1221
Joined  2008-07-20
Beam - 29 January 2009 12:57 PM

I gather that The Board’s list was created from a story in The New York Times. I did not find what criteria were used to make the list. It appears that it may have been created by someone with an interest in history.

Ayn Rand holds the top 2 spots on the Reader’s List. L. Ron Hubbard holds the 3rd spot. I could see no reason to pay any further attention to that list. I suspect that this type of online reader’s survey might attract some fanatical people who may not necessarily limit themselves to one vote.

I certainly agree about the Reader’s List, because if you look at the Nonfiction List, 1. is a Rand book, 2. is Dianetics and 3. is a book about Objectivism.  The crackpots on Scientology and Objectivists sites must have been posting like crazy, in every meaning of the word, to move their books up on the list.

With respect to the Panel Lists, I’m not sure how many of these are Modern Library titles, but I suspect a disproportionate number.

A strong case could be made that Moby Dick is the “Great American Novel,” and an equally strong case could be made for “Huck Finn.”  Neither appears on the list.  Nor does John Barth.  Hemingway, who couldn’t write a shopping list, does.

Even more inexplicable is the non-fiction list, where E.P Thompson’s fine The Making of the English Working Class appears, thus establishing that English authors are elibible for inclusion.

How then would the panel explain the exclusion of The Origin of Species as one of the 100 Best Nonfiction Books?

 Signature 

“I am one of the few people I know who has argued in print that torture may be an ethical necessity in our war on terror.”  Sam Harris October 17, 2005

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 January 2009 10:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2821
Joined  2005-04-29
Beam - 29 January 2009 12:57 PM

Ayn Rand holds the top 2 spots on the Reader’s List.

And her universally panned Anthem and We the Living falling not far behind support your suggestion that the column on the right was rigged. The column on the left is much more plausible. I’ve only read about half from that list, but found the following remarkably worthwhile:

THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck
1984 by George Orwell
AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY by Theodore Dreiser
NATIVE SON by Richard Wright
HENDERSON THE RAIN KING by Saul Bellow
ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell
SISTER CARRIE by Theodore Dreiser
THE SECRET AGENT by Joseph Conrad
OF HUMAN BONDAGE by W. Somerset Maugham
HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad
MAIN STREET by Sinclair Lewis
THE HOUSE OF MIRTH by Edith Wharton

In other words, pretty much everything by Conrad, Dreiser, Steinbeck, Lewis, Wharton and Maugham.

 Signature 

Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 January 2009 10:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1221
Joined  2008-07-20

OK, UZ, so I asked myself, rather than worrying about what isn’t on the list, let me imagine myself in some isolated inn on the Sonoma Coast on a rainy day, and all of these books are on the shelf in the lobby.  Which ones would I realistically pull down and read.  So, acknowledging the greatness of Ulysses, while continuing to believe that no human being has actually read the entire book, here is are volumes I would be inclined to pull off the shelf and reread:
4.  LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov
5.  BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
7.  CATCH-22 (by Joseph Heller; whose Something Happened is also very good)
10.  THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck
11.  UNDER THE VOLCANO by Malcolm Lowry
13.  1984 by George Orwell
18.  SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut
19.  INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison
23.  U.S.A. (trilogy) by John Dos Passos
67.  HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad
73.  THE DAY OF THE LOCUST by Nathanael West

 Signature 

“I am one of the few people I know who has argued in print that torture may be an ethical necessity in our war on terror.”  Sam Harris October 17, 2005

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 January 2009 04:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1814
Joined  2006-11-10
teuchter - 29 January 2009 03:03 PM

A strong case could be made that Moby Dick is the “Great American Novel,” and an equally strong case could be made for “Huck Finn.”  Neither appears on the list.  Nor does John Barth.  Hemingway, who couldn’t write a shopping list, does.

Oh no, you di’nt !

...Sander does his impressive head roll and waves his well-shaped right arm from left to right with index finger threateningly extended….

You take that back, young man, or the bell shall toll for your skinny little punk-ass.

 Signature 

“You know I’m born to lose, and gambling is for fools.
But that’s the way I like it baby, I don’t want to live forever.”

From the autobiography of A.A.Mills, ‘The passage of time, according to an estranged, casual tyrant.’

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 January 2009 04:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1221
Joined  2008-07-20
Sander - 29 January 2009 09:48 PM
teuchter - 29 January 2009 03:03 PM

A strong case could be made that Moby Dick is the “Great American Novel,” and an equally strong case could be made for “Huck Finn.”  Neither appears on the list.  Nor does John Barth.  Hemingway, who couldn’t write a shopping list, does.

Oh no, you di’nt !

...Sander does his impressive head roll and waves his well-shaped right arm from left to right with index finger threateningly extended….

You take that back, young man, or the bell shall toll for your skinny little punk-ass.

Nick typed a “y.”  Nick typed an “e.”  Nick typed an “s.”  “Oh yes I fucking did,” Nick typed.

Nobel Prize for Literature, please!

 Signature 

“I am one of the few people I know who has argued in print that torture may be an ethical necessity in our war on terror.”  Sam Harris October 17, 2005

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 January 2009 05:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1814
Joined  2006-11-10

This list is disturbing.
For one, that pretentious fraud, Faulkner, shows up no less than three times on The Board’s list.
‘The Sound and the fury’ is probably one of the worst books I have ever read and I have been forced to read Wolkers and Belcampo in high school!

Secondly, Poppy Z. Brite isn’t mentioned on either list which is totally ridiculous. Her Exquisite Corpse, Lost Souls and Drawing Blood are all far better than the contrived twaddle from Joyce or Fitzgerald.

The only selections that make this list at all bearable are; The grapes of wrath, Under the vulcano, Slaughterhouse-five, Lord of the flies, The catcher in the rye and Salacious Secrets of Sander’s Seven Salubrious Strumpets.

 Signature 

“You know I’m born to lose, and gambling is for fools.
But that’s the way I like it baby, I don’t want to live forever.”

From the autobiography of A.A.Mills, ‘The passage of time, according to an estranged, casual tyrant.’

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 January 2009 07:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1221
Joined  2008-07-20
Sander - 29 January 2009 10:14 PM

Salacious Secrets of Sander’s Seven Salubrious Strumpets.

I preferred the second book in the series:  Seventeen Succulent Succubi Seduce Sander, Sequel to Salacious Secrets of Sander’s Seven Salubrious Strumpets.

 Signature 

“I am one of the few people I know who has argued in print that torture may be an ethical necessity in our war on terror.”  Sam Harris October 17, 2005

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 January 2009 08:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1646
Joined  2008-04-02

I would bet that the people who voted for Ayn Rand voted for “The Birth of a Nation” as their favorite movie.

If we are talking about American literature, then we should add Tennessee Williams. I know he was a playwright. I’m adding him anyway.

One of the Bildungsroman genre novels should be on the list. Huck Finn and Catcher in the Rye were excellent. To Kill A Mockingbird was another good one.

Where is Toni Morrison or Upton Sinclair?

 Signature 

Real honesty is accepting the theories that best explain the actual data even if those explanations contradict our cherished beliefs.-Scotty

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 January 2009 06:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
Newbie
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  7
Joined  2009-01-28
Sander - 29 January 2009 10:14 PM

This list is disturbing.
For one, that pretentious fraud, Faulkner, shows up no less than three times on The Board’s list.
‘The Sound and the fury’ is probably one of the worst books I have ever read and I have been forced to read Wolkers and Belcampo in high school!

Secondly, Poppy Z. Brite isn’t mentioned on either list which is totally ridiculous. Her Exquisite Corpse, Lost Souls and Drawing Blood are all far better than the contrived twaddle from Joyce or Fitzgerald.

The only selections that make this list at all bearable are; The grapes of wrath, Under the vulcano, Slaughterhouse-five, Lord of the flies, The catcher in the rye and Salacious Secrets of Sander’s Seven Salubrious Strumpets.

Did you read Death in the Afternoon by Hemingway?  He had alot of love for Faulkner.  I like Hemingway’s style but you have to admit that he is not without pretension whenever he talks about literature.  His criticism of Huxley, Fitzgerald, Wyndham Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, D.H. Lawrence was pretty mean-spirited.  Speaking of twaddle if you’ve ever read Charles Bukowski you would probably recognize that in addition to inheriting Hemingway’s style he also gets pretentious.  Nobody can compete with Joyce’s pretension.

I’m currently reading Faulkner and I admit I am sometimes baffled with his italics.  I don’t understand why he is using them half of the time.  Something compels me to stick with him maybe it is the dialogue or my curiousity about either the South or Faulkner’s reputation.  As I Lay Dying was a difficult one to finish.

Does anybody have an opinion of Louis-Ferdinand Céline?  I think you either love him or hate him.  His racism poses a serious problem yet I cannot dismiss him for love of his style and warped humor.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 January 2009 07:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1814
Joined  2006-11-10

Welcome to the forum Pete.

pete - 31 January 2009 11:13 AM

Did you read Death in the Afternoon by Hemingway?  He had alot of love for Faulkner.  I like Hemingway’s style but you have to admit that he is not wthout pretension whenever he talks about literature.  His criticism of Huxley, Fitzgerald, Wyndham Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, D.H. Lawrence was pretty mean-spirited.

I re-read Death in the Afternoon last summer and still loved it.
I have never read any of Ernesto’s biographies and I never will, but the snippets of information I’ve picked up over the years make me suspect that I wouldn’t have liked this man in real life and that, besides being a violent drunk, he was indeed pretentious and mean-spirited at times.
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Hemingway though, since he introduced me to American literature. Many writers with a more complex style are a turn off for young non-native speakers like me.

pete - 31 January 2009 11:13 AM

Speaking of twaddle if you’ve ever read Charles Bukowski you would probably recognize that in addition to inheriting Hemingway’s style he also gets pretentious.  Nobody can compete with Joyce’s pretension.

I have only read Tales of ordinary madness by him so I can’t really judge his oeuvre.
His stories are too coarse for my sensitive soul.
It is interesting that you peg him as pretentious because in a documentary I saw about him he seemed particularly proud of the fact that his writing is not pretentious (according to him, the regular beatings his father gave him as a child knocked all the pretense out of him)

pete - 31 January 2009 11:13 AM

I’m currently reading Faulkner and I admit I am sometimes baffled with his italics.  I don’t understand why he is using them half of the time.  Something compels me to stick with him maybe it is the dialogue or my curiousity about either the South or Faulkner’s reputation.  As I Lay Dying was a difficult one to finish.

Good luck with that.

 Signature 

“You know I’m born to lose, and gambling is for fools.
But that’s the way I like it baby, I don’t want to live forever.”

From the autobiography of A.A.Mills, ‘The passage of time, according to an estranged, casual tyrant.’

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 January 2009 10:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
Newbie
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  7
Joined  2009-01-28
Sander - 31 January 2009 12:29 PM

Welcome to the forum Pete.

Thanks, I wish I had read Sam sooner.

I re-read Death in the Afternoon last summer and still loved it.
I have never read any of Ernesto’s biographies and I never will, but the snippets of information I’ve picked up over the years make me suspect that I wouldn’t have liked this man in real life and that, besides being a violent drunk, he was indeed pretentious and mean-spirited at times.
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Hemingway though, since he introduced me to American literature. Many writers with a more complex style are a turn off for young non-native speakers like me.

Are you Spanish?  I loved the last section where Ernesto tells us what a book about Spain must include.  The women folk should loathe Ernesto, the guy was quite the misogynst, Bukowski too.

I have only read Tales of ordinary madness by him so I can’t really judge his oeuvre.
His stories are too coarse for my sensitive soul.
It is interesting that you peg him as pretentious because in a documentary I saw about him he seemed particularly proud of the fact that his writing is not pretentious (according to him, the regular beatings his father gave him as a child knocked all the pretense out of him)

Maybe my definition of pretension is somewhat wrong.  I consider it pretentious when Bukowski tells us how the “best” writers are usually not the best, then tells us how great D.H. Lawrence and Hemingway are, how bad Fitzgerald was.  He says things like Journey to the End of the Night was the best book of the past 2000 years and then “but Céline never wrote anything else worth reading.”  Perhaps I should give Bukowski a break since I am trying to sort through all the b.s. on the top 100 list, which he would probably have mocked.  However it is hard to give a guy a break when your sister sends you his novels without having read them herself only because all the San Francisco ad agency folks love him… as well as Bono, Sean Penn, Eddie Vedder… 

Good luck with that.

Thanks, luckily Light in August doesn’t have alot of those annoying italics where you don’t know whether you are reading a past event or interior monologue or just plain emphasis.  Your guess is as good as mine.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 February 2009 10:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1243
Joined  2006-12-26

These types of top 100-lists are so dumb.
Ever heard of Thomas Mann? “Zauberberg”, “Dr. Faustus”. Or Marcel Proust?
And zillions of other great non-english writers.

As for English-writing authors, names like Dickens, Stevenson are totally missing..

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 February 2009 02:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2492
Joined  2008-04-05

OK a couple for the bad list I guess. Can’t believe nobody mentioned Clancy and Grisham. Too contemporary for elitist enlightened folks ? grin

 Signature 

‘Every reflecting mind must acknowledge that there is no proof of the existence of a Deity’

‘If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, knowledge of nature destroys them’

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed