Thursday, October 20, 2005

Time Magazine's All-Time 100 best English Language Novels: 1923 - Present

I came across this list while reading the blog of the Sassy Lawyer. The list is billed as the all time novels or the one hundred best English-language novels from nineteen hundred and twenty three to the present, which was picked by Time Magazine's critics Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo.

Heres is the link to the list.
Whenever you come up with a list of best things you end up pleasing and displeasing people. Some would question the choice, criteria used and even the competence of the selectors and even when the selectors' reputation is impeccable it does not stop someone from commenting that perhaps there could have been a better choice - why was this thing selected over the other one? In academic circles they call this peer review, which is based on the principle that comments are made objectively by your comrades in the profession, we laymen call it for what it really is criticism.

The list is an interesting list and I am quite happy to find Animal Farm, The Lord of the Rings, Watchmen and the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in the illustrious roll of novels written in English. But what I find really interesting is the number of books that are familiar because I watched their movie adaptations. Movies like All the King's Men, Lolita, Catch 22, A Clockwork Orange, Ragtime, A Passage to India and French Lieutenant's Woman were examples of successful transition of the stories from the printed word to the moving images. I wonder how much of the original message was retained, lost and transformed in the process of adapting the story for the silver screen.

The list also seems to be a mirror of one's shortcoming as a reader; I have read only a handful books from that list. But then again it is a matter of preference you read what you like or believe you like. And in the end the books on list my be worth a perusal but in the end its one's list that counts; the list covers only novels written in English from the 1920s to the present.

Still I am happy to see the works of CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and Eric Blair aka George Orwell on the list.


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