Literature canon list
The list – The 100 greatest novels of all time – The Observer
…to be taken with a pinch of salt. As with most lists of this kind, this attempt at a definitive list of the 100 greatest novels of all time still effectively constitutes someone’s opinion, regardless of the millions of people (Observer readers) who took part in the survey.The list is heavily biased towards the traditional canon of English Literature – i.e. what people think should be great as opposed to what people think is great, with the inclusion of the odd trendy favourite e.g. Pullman’s Northern Lights which will be all but forgotten in ten years time…
1. Don Quixote Miguel De Cervantes
The story of the gentle knight and his servant Sancho Panza has entranced readers for centuries.
2. Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan
The one with the Slough of Despond and Vanity Fair.
3. Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe
The first English novel.
4. Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift
A wonderful satire that still works for all ages, despite the savagery of Swift’s vision.
5. Tom Jones 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 – Samuel Richardson
One of the longest novels in the English language, but unputdownable.
7. Tristram Shandy Laurence Sterne
One of the first bestsellers, dismissed by Dr Johnson as too fashionable for its own good.
8. Dangerous Liaisons Pierre Choderlos De Laclos
An epistolary novel and a handbook for seducers: foppish, French, and ferocious.
9. Emma Jane Austen
Near impossible choice between this and Pride and Prejudice. But Emma never fails to fascinate and annoy.
10. Frankenstein Mary Shelley
Inspired by spending too much time with Shelley and Byron.
11. Nightmare Abbey Thomas Love Peacock
A classic miniature: a brilliant satire on the Romantic novel.
12. The Black Sheep Honore De Balzac
Two rivals fight for the love of a femme fatale. Wrongly overlooked.
13.The Charterhouse of Parma – Stendhal
Penetrating and compelling chronicle of life in an Italian court in post-Napoleonic France.
14. The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas
A revenge thriller also set in France after Bonaparte: a masterpiece of adventure writing.
15. Sybil Benjamin Disraeli
Apart from Churchill, no other British political figure shows literary genius.
16. David Copperfield Charles Dickens
This highly autobiographical novel is the one its author liked best.
17.Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte
Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff have passed into the language. Impossible to ignore.
18. Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte
Obsessive emotional grip and haunting narrative.
19. Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray
The improving tale of Becky Sharp.
20. The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne
A classic investigation of the American mind.
21. Moby-Dick Herman Melville
‘Call me Ishmael’ is one of the most famous opening sentences of any novel.
22. Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
You could summarise this as a story of adultery in provincial France, and miss the point entirely
23. The Woman in White Wilkie Collins
Gripping mystery novel of concealed identity, abduction, fraud and mental cruelty.
24.Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland Lewis Carroll
A story written for the nine-year-old daughter of an Oxford don that still baffles most kids.
25. Little Women Louisa M. Alcott
Victorian bestseller about a New England family of girls.
26. The Way We Live Now Anthony Trollope
A majestic assault on the corruption of late Victorian England.
27. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
The supreme novel of the married woman’s passion for a younger man.
28. Daniel Deronda 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 Henry James
The story of Isabel Archer shows James at his witty and polished best.
31.Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain
Twain was a humorist, but this picture of Mississippi life is profoundly moral and still incredibly influential.
32. 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 Jerome K. Jerome
One of the funniest English books ever written.
34. The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde
A coded and epigrammatic melodrama inspired by his own tortured homosexuality.
35. The Diary of a Nobody George Grossmith
This classic of Victorian suburbia will always be renowned for the character of Mr Pooter.
36. Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy
Its savage bleakness makes it one of the first twentieth-century novels.
37. The Riddle of the Sands 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 Jack London
The story of a dog who joins a pack of wolves after his master’s death.
39. Nostromo Joseph Conrad
Conrad’s masterpiece: a tale of money, love and revolutionary politics.
40. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
This children’s classic was inspired by bedtime stories for Grahame’s son.
41. In Search of Lost Time Marcel Proust
An unforgettable portrait of Paris in the belle epoque. Probably the longest novel on this list.
42. The Rainbow D. H. Lawrence
Novels seized by the police, like this one, have a special afterlife.
43. The Good Soldier Ford Madox Ford
This account of the adulterous lives of two Edwardian couples is a classic of unreliable narration.
44. The Thirty-Nine Steps John Buchan
A classic adventure story for boys, jammed with action, violence and suspense.
45. Ulysses James Joyce
Also pursued by the British police, this is a novel more discussed than read.
46.Mrs Dalloway Virginia Woolf
Secures Woolf’s position as one of the great twentieth-century English novelists.
47. A Passage to India E. M. Forster
The great novel of the British Raj, it remains a brilliant study of empire.
48. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
The quintessential Jazz Age novel.
49. The Trial Franz Kafka
The enigmatic story of Joseph K.
50. Men Without Women 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 Louis-Ferdinand Celine
The experiences of an unattractive slum doctor during the Great War: a masterpiece of linguistic innovation.
52. As I Lay Dying William Faulkner
A strange black comedy by an American master.
53. Brave New World Aldous Huxley