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Modern Library's 100 Best Novels is a list of the best English-language novels of the 20th century as selected by the Modern Library. In the spring of 1998 the Modern Library polled its editorial board to find the best 100 novels of the 20th century. The board consisted of Daniel J. Boorstin, A. S. Byatt, Christopher Cerf, Shelby Foote, Vartan Gregorian, Edmund Morris, John Richardson, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., William Styron and Gore Vidal.

Ulysses by James Joyce topped the list, followed by The Great Gatsby and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The most recent novel in the list is Ironweed (1983) by William Kennedy, and the oldest are Sister Carrie (1900) by Theodore Dreiser and Lord Jim (1900) by Joseph Conrad.

The list purports to contain only English-language novels.

A separate list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the 20th century was created the same year. A list of reader choices was published separately by Modern Library in 1999.

Criticism of the list includes that it did not include enough novels by women, and not enough novels from outside North America and Europe. In addition, some contend it was a "sales gimmick", since most of the titles in the list are also sold by Modern Library.

The List

Editors' list

# Year Title Author
1. 1922 Ulysses James Joyce
2. 1925 The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. 1916 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man James Joyce
4. 1955 Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
5. 1932 Brave New World Aldous Huxley
6. 1929 The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner
7. 1961 Catch-22 Joseph Heller
8. 1940 Darkness at Noon Arthur Koestler
9. 1913 Sons and Lovers D. H. Lawrence
10. 1939 The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck
11. 1947 Under the Volcano Malcolm Lowry
12. 1903 The Way of All Flesh Samuel Butler
13. 1949 Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
14. 1934 I, Claudius Robert Graves
15. 1927 To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf
16. 1925 An American Tragedy Theodore Dreiser
17. 1940 The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter Carson McCullers
18. 1969 Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut
19. 1952 Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
20. 1940 Native Son Richard Wright
21. 1959 Henderson the Rain King Saul Bellow
22. 1934 Appointment in Samarra John O'Hara
23. 1938 U.S.A. John Dos Passos
24. 1919 Winesburg, Ohio Sherwood Anderson
25. 1924 A Passage to India E. M. Forster
26. 1902 The Wings of the Dove Henry James
27. 1903 The Ambassadors Henry James
28. 1934 Tender Is the Night F. Scott Fitzgerald
29. 1935 Studs Lonigan James T. Farrell
30. 1915 The Good Soldier Ford Madox Ford
31. 1945 Animal Farm George Orwell
32. 1904 The Golden Bowl Henry James
33. 1900 Sister Carrie Theodore Dreiser
34. 1934 A Handful of Dust Evelyn Waugh
35. 1930 As I Lay Dying William Faulkner
36. 1946 All the King's Men Robert Penn Warren
37. 1927 The Bridge of San Luis Rey Thornton Wilder
38. 1910 Howards Endmarker E. M. Forster
39. 1953 Go Tell It on the Mountain James Baldwin
40. 1948 The Heart of the Matter Graham Greene
41. 1954 Lord of the Flies William Golding
42. 1970 Deliverance James Dickey
43. 1951-
1975
A Dance to the Music of Time Anthony Powell
44. 1928 Point Counter Point Aldous Huxley
45. 1926 The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway
46. 1907 The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
47. 1904 Nostromo Joseph Conrad
48. 1915 The Rainbow D. H. Lawrence
49. 1920 Women in Love D. H. Lawrence
50. 1934 Tropic of Cancer Henry Miller
51. 1948 The Naked and the Dead Norman Mailer
52. 1969 Portnoy's Complaint Philip Roth
53. 1962 Pale Fire Vladimir Nabokov
54. 1932 Light in August William Faulkner
55. 1957 On the Road Jack Kerouac
56. 1930 The Maltese Falcon Dashiell Hammett
57. 1924-
1928
Parade's End Ford Madox Ford
58. 1920 The Age of Innocence Edith Wharton
59. 1911 Zuleika Dobson Max Beerbohm
60. 1961 The Moviegoer Walker Percy
61. 1927 Death Comes for the Archbishop Willa Cather
62. 1951 From Here to Eternity James Jones
63. 1957 The Wapshot Chronicle John Cheever
64. 1951 The Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger
65. 1962 A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess
66. 1915 Of Human Bondage W. Somerset Maugham
67. 1902 Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
68. 1920 Main Street Sinclair Lewis
69. 1905 The House of Mirth Edith Wharton
70. 1957-
1960
The Alexandria Quartet Lawrence Durrell
71. 1929 A High Wind in Jamaica Richard Hughes
72. 1961 A House for Mr Biswas V. S. Naipaul
73. 1939 The Day of the Locust Nathanael West
74. 1929 A Farewell to Arms Ernest Hemingway
75. 1938 Scoop Evelyn Waugh
76. 1962 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Muriel Spark
77. 1939 Finnegans Wake James Joyce
78. 1901 Kim Rudyard Kipling
79. 1908 A Room with a View E. M. Forster
80. 1945 Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh
81. 1953 The Adventures of Augie March Saul Bellow
82. 1971 Angle of Repose Wallace Stegner
83. 1979 A Bend in the River V. S. Naipaul
84. 1938 The Death of the Heart Elizabeth Bowen
85. 1900 Lord Jim Joseph Conrad
86. 1975 Ragtime E. L. Doctorow
87. 1908 The Old Wives' Tale Arnold Bennett
88. 1903 The Call of the Wild Jack London
89. 1945 Loving Henry Green
90. 1980 Midnight's Children Salman Rushdie
91. 1932 Tobacco Road Erskine Caldwell
92. 1983 Ironweed William Kennedy
93. 1965 The Magus John Fowles
94. 1966 Wide Sargasso Sea Jean Rhys
95. 1954 Under the Net Iris Murdoch
96. 1979 Sophie's Choice William Styron
97. 1949 The Sheltering Sky Paul Bowles
98. 1934 The Postman Always Rings Twice James M. Cain
99. 1955 The Ginger Man J. P. Donleavy
100. 1918 The Magnificent Ambersons Booth Tarkington


Readers' list

The following year the Modern Library compiled a list based on online voting. Seven of the top ten novels are works by Ayn Rand (the creator of Objectivism) and L. Ron Hubbard (the founder of Scientology).

David Ebershoff, the Modern Library division's publishing director, stated in a follow-up "the people who were drawn to go to the Modern Library Web site and compelled to vote have a certain enthusiasm about books and their favourite books that many people don't, so that the voting population is skewed." In addition, people were allowed to vote repeatedly, once per day, making the poll a measure of how much effort people would put into promoting their favorite books. Others have been more direct in their descriptions of the results; librarian Robert Teeter remarks that the ballot boxes were "stuffed by cultists." (The Reader's List in a way criticizes itself, with the inclusion of Darrell Huff's How to Lie with Statistics in the best non-fiction category.)

# Year Title Author
1. 1952 Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand
2. 1943 The Fountainhead Ayn Rand
3. 1982 Battlefield Earth L. Ron Hubbard
4. 1954-
1955
The Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien
5. 1960 To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee
6. 1949 Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
7. 1938 Anthem Ayn Rand
8. 1940 We The Living Ayn Rand
9. 1985-
1987
Mission Earth L. Ron Hubbard
10. 1951 Fear L. Ron Hubbard
11. 1922 Ulysses James Joyce
12. 1961 Catch-22 Joseph Heller
13. 1925 The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
14. 1965 Dune Frank Herbert
15. 1966 The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress Robert A. Heinlein
16. 1961 Stranger in a Strange Land Robert A. Heinlein
17. 1950 A Town Like Alice Nevil Shute
18. 1932 Brave New World Aldous Huxley
19. 1951 The Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger
20. 1945 Animal Farm George Orwell
21. 1973 Gravity's Rainbow Thomas Pynchon
22. 1939 The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck
23. 1969 Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut
24. 1936 Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell
25. 1954 Lord of the Flies William Golding
26. 1949 Shane Jack Schaefer
27. 1960 Trustee from the Toolroom Nevil Shute
28. 1989 A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving
29. 1978 The Stand Stephen King
30. 1969 The French Lieutenant's Woman John Fowles
31. 1987 Beloved Toni Morrison
32. 1922 The Worm Ourobouros E.R. Eddison
33. 1929 The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner
34. 1955 Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
35. 1984 Moonheart Charles de Lint
36. 1936 Absalom, Absalom! William Faulkner
37. 1915 Of Human Bondage W. Somerset Maugham
38. 1952 Wise Blood Flannery O'Connor
39. 1947 Under the Volcano Malcolm Lowry
40. 1970 Fifth Business Robertson Davies
41. 1998 Someplace to Be Flying Charles de Lint
42. 1957 On the Road Jack Kerouac
43. 1902 Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
44. 1986 Yarrow Charles de Lint
45. 1931 At the Mountains of Madness H.P. Lovecraft
46. 1951 One Lonely Night Mickey Spillane
47. 1994 Memory And Dream Charles de Lint
48. 1927 To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf
49. 1961 The Moviegoer Walker Percy
50. 1997 Trader Charles de Lint
51. 1979 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams
52. 1952 The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter Carson McCullers
53. 1985 The Handmaid's Tale Margaret Atwood
54. 1985 Blood Meridian Cormac McCarthy
55. 1962 A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess
56. 1957 On the Beach Nevil Shute
57. 1916 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man James Joyce
58. 1988 Greenmantle Charles de Lint
59. 1985 Ender's Game Orson Scott Card
60. 1991 The Little Country Charles de Lint
61. 1955 The Recognitions William Gaddis
62. 1959 Starship Troopers Robert A. Heinlein
63. 1926 The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway
64. 1978 The World According to Garp John Irving
65. 1962 Something Wicked This Way Comes Ray Bradbury
66. 1959 The Haunting of Hill House Shirley Jackson
67. 1930 As I Lay Dying William Faulkner
68. 1934 Tropic of Cancer Henry Miller
69. 1952 Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
70. 1996 The Wood Wife Terri Windling
71. 1966 The Magus John Fowles
72. 1957 The Door into Summer Robert A. Heinlein
73. 1974 Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Robert Pirsig
74. 1934 I, Claudius Robert Graves
75. 1903 The Call of the Wild Jack London
76. 1939 At Swim-Two-Birds Flann O'Brien
77. 1953 Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
78. 1901 Arrowsmith Sinclair Lewis
79. 1972 Watership Down Richard Adams
80. 1959 Naked Lunch William S. Burroughs
81. 1984 The Hunt for Red October Tom Clancy
82. 1993 Guilty Pleasures Laurell K. Hamilton
83. 1951 The Puppet Masters Robert A. Heinlein
84. 1986 IT Stephen King
85. 1963 V. Thomas Pynchon
86. 1956 Double Star Robert A. Heinlein
87. 1957 Citizen of the Galaxy Robert A. Heinlein
88. 1945 Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh
89. 1932 Light in August William Faulkner
90. 1962 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Ken Kesey
91. 1929 A Farewell to Arms Ernest Hemingway
92. 1949 The Sheltering Sky Paul Bowles
93. 1964 Sometimes a Great Notion Ken Kesey
94. 1918 My √Āntonia Willa Cather
95. 1985 Mulengro: A Romany Tale Charles de Lint
96. 1997 Suttree Cormac McCarthy
97. 1984 Mythago Wood Robert Holdstock
98. 1977 Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah Richard Bach
99. 1994 The Cunning Man Robertson Davies
100. 1988 The Satanic Verses Salman Rushdie


See also



Notes

  1. (in fact, Darkness at Noon was originally written in German. However, since the original German text was lost, and German versions, published under the title Sonnenfinsternis (literally "solar eclipse") are back translations from English, it is reasonable to consider the English version the canonical text.)
  2. "The Top 100? 100 best novels list draws heavy dose of criticism", via CNN. By Jamie Allen, May 6, 1999
  3. "Sound and Fury Over Top Novel List N.Y. publisher's selections signify little, critics say", SFGate, Steve Rubenstein, Tuesday, July 21, 1998
  4. http://www.caj.ca/mediamag/fall2002/opinion.html
  5. http://www.interleaves.org/~rteeter/greatbks.html


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