Lots of fantastic suggestions above but here are some of my favourites:
Vladimir Nabukov – Lolita
The subject matter is obviously a challenge but as an exploration of someone struggling with their sexual nature it’s almost perfect. An uncomfortable read at times but incredibly compelling.
Virginia Woolf – Mrs Dalloway
A hard read but only because its structure is so innovative. Once you get used to it it’s an amazing snapshot of a world in which characters move and exist rather than the world being shaped around them. A bit like an impressionist painting or a complex jazz record, you have to commit to exploring it to get the most out of it.
Phillip Roth – American Pastoral
My favourite novel – exploring the relationships between classes, generations and cultures in the 1960-70s. I read it in about 48 hours then went back to the start and read it again.
Joris Karl Huysmans – A Rebours
The most cynically comic novel I know of, tearing into the intellectualism and affectation of its era but still relevant to our own fabs and fashions and still very funny.
Ernest Hemmingway – For Whom the Bell TollsPosted 4 years ago
Pretty much a perfect book, not really sure what to say about it really.meftyMember
Many very good recommendations – but a few authors worth adding to the list
Had one of the great 19th French Realists but I don’t think we have had the other two, Balzac, The Old Goriot being a good starting point and, for Zola, Thérèse Raquin.
And no list of great classics would be complete without Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment would be the first one to read.Posted 4 years agoGarry_LagerSubscriber
Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K…
Kafka is a special writer with such a strong voice that he seems to occupy his own space in the classics.
Another singular writer from the twentieth century is Borges – although he never wrote a novel, all short stories. Huge influence on the form and v fun and readable – the original magical realist (but don’t blame him for that).
Some classic Russian stuff mentioned – another one from the 20th century is The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov – brilliantly written satire on Stalin, was samizdat literature in the soviet union for years [underground books distributed by hand]. Source of the immortal line ‘Didn’t you know that manuscripts don’t burn?’Posted 4 years agoseosamh77Subscriber
Talking about Russian themed books, one that I’m going to read again, now that you mention it, is one of the first books I read all on my lonesome after I left school. I was never a big reader till I read this book. But The Fixer by Bernard Malamud. Remember it as a cracking book, very dark.
Think I’ll re-read The Trail again actually aswell since you mention Kafka. Reckon I’ll get alot more out of that now I’m older, should still have it kicking about somewhere.Posted 4 years agoLiferSubscriber
Reading Kafka’s ‘collected novels’ (The Trial, Amerika and The Castle) at the moment, The Castle by far my favourite but might go back and re-read the Trial when I’ve finished it as the last few chapters flew by.
+1 for Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov is great as well.
Only read Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck but think there is a copy of Cannery Row in the house.
My reading list grows exponentially…Posted 4 years ago
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