Thursday, April 29, 2004

"Great" Works of Fiction I've Read

Mrs Tilton presents her own list of 100 books and challenges the rest of us to put up lists of our own. In response to the challenge, I present some titles I've read below. This is a non-exhaustive collection of books I've read that I'd think might reasonably be mentioned as "important", either according to literary criteria, or in terms of the impact of the ideas they present of some larger culture (and not necessarily a Western one, either.)

To be honest, I adhere to the old notion that "De Gustibus Non Disputandum Est" - aesthetic tastes are inherently subjective, and not really amenable to simple rank orderings of the "best" anything - which is why I put "Great" in scare quotes in the title of this post. All one sees below is an incomplete record of the idiosyncratic and historically contingent reading of one individual, not some measure by which anyone else's standard of "culture" is to be ascertained.

Achebe, Chinue - Things Fall Apart
Borges, Jorge-Louis - Collected Fictions
Burroughs, William - Naked Lunch
Calvino, Italo - Invisible Cities
Camus, Albert - The Stranger
Celine, Louis-Ferdinand - Journey to the End of Night
Chabon, Michael - The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness
Dick, Philip K. - The Man in the High Castle
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - Notes from Underground
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - The Brothers Karamazov
Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy
Eliot, George - Silas Marner
Ellis, Brett Easton - American Psycho
Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man
Faulkner, William - Absalom, Absalom
Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William - Go Down, Moses
Faulkner, William - Light in August
Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Last Tycoon
Foster-Wallace, David - Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
Foster-Wallace, David - Infinite Jest
Gibson, William - Mona Lisa Overdrive
Gibson, William - Neuromancer
Hemingway, Ernest - The Sun Also Rises
Hesse, Hermann - Siddhartha
Hesse, Hermann - Steppenwolf
Hesse, Hermann - The Glass Bead Game
Hesse, Hermann - The Journey to the East
Homer - The Iliad
Homer - The Odyssey
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
Ishiguro, Kazuo - A Pale View of the Hills
Ishiguro, Kazuo - The Remains of the Day
Joyce, James - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka, Franz - Amerika
Kafka, Franz - Metamorphosis and Other Stories
Kafka, Franz - The Castle
Kafka, Franz - The Trial
Kawabata, Yasunari - Snow Country
Kawabata, Yasunari - The Sound of the Mountain
Mann, Thomas - Buddenbrooks
Mann, Thomas - Death in Venice and Other Stories
Mann, Thomas - Doctor Faustus
Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain
Marquez, Gabriel-Garcia - 100 Years of Solitude
Marquez, Gabriel-Garcia - Autumn of the Patriarch
Marquez, Gabriel-Garcia - Love in the Time of Cholera
Melville, Hermann - Moby Dick
Miller, Henry - Tropic of Cancer
Mishima, Yukio - Confessions of a Mask
Mishima, Yukio - The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
Musil, Robert - The Man Without Qualities
Nabokov, Vladimir - Lolita
Nabokov, Vladimir - The Luzhin Defense
Orwell, George - 1984
Orwell, George - Animal Farm
Proust, Marcel - Remembrance of Things Past (Start to Finish!)
Ryonosuke, Akutagawa - Rashomon and Other Stories
Saikaku, Ihara - The Life of an Amorous Man
Sartre, Jean-Paul - Nausea
Shikibu, Murasaki - The Tale of Genji
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Soseki, Natsume - Kokoro
Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels
Tanizaki, Junichiro - Some Prefer Nettles
Thiongo, Ngugi wa - Weep Not, Child
Tolstoy, Leo - The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories
Wells, H.G. - The Time Machine
Wells, H.G. - War of the Worlds
Wright, Richard - Black Boy
Wright, Richard - Native Son
Zamyatin, Yevgeny - We

Do note that I've intentionally excluded all plays and non-fictional works from the list; drawing on inspiration from some titles mentioned by Frank McGahon, I'm working on yet another list of books, this time non-fictional works that I've personally found of world-shaking importance. It isn't likely to be half as long as this list, but my intention is that every item mentioned should be an intellectual gem in its own right, at least by my criteria.