Skip to content

Literature’s 101 Greatest


For the last month I have engaged in passing debate with friends and colleagues over what they would consider the greatest books of all-time. After much thought and a gander through the thousands of books in my study, I whittled this list down to my top 101 which, albeit numbered, are all on an equal footing.

The preoccupation of the novelist: how to capture the living moments, was answered by the diary. You write while you are alive. You do not preserve them in alcohol until the moment you are ready to write about them.

Apart from the books written in English, French and Japanese, all others were read in translation. The only rule that I had when making this list was that I could not choose a book that I had not read. Lastly, the book highlighted in bold is what I personally consider to be the greatest work of literature ever written; whilst that in italics is my favourite book:-

  1. A Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert, France
  2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, United States
  3. The Aeneid by Virgil, Italy
  4. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Russia
  5. Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Doblin, Germany
  6. Blindness by Jose Saramago, Portugal
  7. The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa, Portugal
  8. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Russia
  9. The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren, Sweden
  10. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, England
  11. The Castle by Franz Kafka, Austria
  12. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, United States
  13. Children of Gebelawi by Naguib Mahfouz, Egypt
  14. Cities of the Interior by Anaïs Nin, France / Cuba
  15. Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges, Argentina
  16. Complete Poems by Giacomo Leopardi, Italy
  17. The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka, Austria
  18. The Complete Tales by Edgar Allan Poe, United States
  19. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas, pere, France
  20. Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Russia
  21. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, Russia
  22. The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy, Russia
  23. Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, Italy
  24. Diary of a Madman and Other Stories by Lu Xun, China
  25. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, Italy
  26. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, Spain
  27. Essays by Michel de Montaigne, France
  28. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin, Russia
  29. Fairy Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Andersen, Denmark
  30. Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany
  31. Gilgamesh, Mesopotamia
  32. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, England
  33. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell, United States
  34. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, United States
  35. Gypsy Ballads by Federico Garcia Lorca, Spain
  36. Hamlet by William Shakespeare, England
  37. Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen, Norway
  38. History by Elsa Morante, Italy
  39. I Am a Cat by Natsume Sōseki, Japan
  40. The Iliad by Homer, Greece
  41. Jacques the Fatalist and His Master by Denis Diderot, France
  42. Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine, France
  43. King Lear by William Shakespeare, England
  44. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, United States
  45. The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Italy
  46. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne, Ireland
  47. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, France
  48. Locus Solus by Raymond Roussel, France
  49. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, Russia / United States
  50. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkein, England
  51. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombia
  52. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, France
  53. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann, Germany
  54. Mahabharata, India
  55. The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil, Austria
  56. The Mathnawi by Jalal ad-din Rumi, Afghanistan
  57. Medea by Euripides, Greece
  58. Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar, France
  59. Metamorphoses by Ovid, Italy
  60. Middlemarch by George Eliot, England
  61. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, India / England
  62. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, United States
  63. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, England
  64. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, Italy
  65. Nine Stories by J. D. Salinger, United States
  66. Nine Stories by Vladimir Nabokov, Russia / United States
  67. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, England
  68. Njaals Saga, Iceland
  69. Nostromo by Joseph Conrad, England
  70. The Odyssey by Homer, Greece
  71. Oedipus the King by Sophocles, Greece
  72. Old Goriot by Honore de Balzac, France
  73. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, United States
  74. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  75. The Orchard by Sheikh Musharrif ud-din Sadi, Iran
  76. Othello by William Shakespeare, England
  77. Out of Africa by Karen von Blixen-Finecke, Denmark
  78. Poems by Paul Celan, Romania / France
  79. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, England
  80. The Ramayana by Valmiki, India
  81. The Recognition of Sakuntala by Kalidasa, India
  82. The Red & the Black by Stendhal, France
  83. Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust, France
  84. The Sea of Fertility by Yukio Mishima, Japan
  85. Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih, Sudan
  86. Selected Stories by Anton Chekhov, Russia
  87. Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake, England
  88. The Sound & the Fury by William Faulkner, United States
  89. The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata, Japan
  90. The Stranger by Albert Camus, France
  91. The Tale of Genji by Shikibu Murasaki, Japan
  92. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, England
  93. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Nigeria
  94. Thousand & One Nights, India / Iran / Iraq / Egypt
  95. The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass, Germany
  96. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, England
  97. The Trial by Franz Kafka, Bohemia
  98. Ulysses by James Joyce, Ireland
  99. War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy, Russia
  100. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, Japan
  101. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, England

So, what’s on your list?

Les fleurs sont si contradictoires. Mais j’étais trop jeune pour savoir l’aimer.


From → Literature

One Comment

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Cinema’s 101 Greatest | I, Contra Mundum

Do Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: