The Novel 100: A Ranking of the Greatest Novels of All Timeby Daniel S. Burt
Millions of us ravenously devour novels every year. It’s not surprising that we also wrestle with them, judge them, press them on our friends (often demanding them back), and quietly “misplace” the ones we can’t warm up to. The unspoken word here is “ranking.” Whenever we say “Pride and Prejudice is a better book/i>
Millions of us ravenously devour novels every year. It’s not surprising that we also wrestle with them, judge them, press them on our friends (often demanding them back), and quietly “misplace” the ones we can’t warm up to. The unspoken word here is “ranking.” Whenever we say “Pride and Prejudice is a better book than Sense and Sensibility”or Jane Eyre or Moby-Dick, we are evaluating and, in some way, ranking these old familiars. So what are the hundred best novels, anyway. And which comes first? eighth? ninety-eighth? It’s anybody’s right to say; no such list can be purely objective.
After teaching literature for more than twenty years, Daniel S. Burt has an informed view of his own, and he puts it forward in The Novel 100. He identifies a great novel as one that has defined or modified the genre and remained influential over time. Each entry provides a plot summary and assessment of the novel, as well as details about its creation, historical context, critical reception, and contribution to literary history. Because there are more candidates for inclusion than there are spots, he concludes the book with “A Second Hundred (Honorable Mentions)” list.
Of course, the open secret is that The Novel 100 isn’t really about pigeonholes. Nor is it an invitation to a fistfight. Its purpose is to start readers off on a lifetime friendship with great books. And what are a few small differences of opinion between friends?
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Meet the Author
Dr. Daniel S. Burt has taught at New York University and Wesleyan University. His books include What Historical Novel Do I Read Next? and The Literary 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Novelists, Playwrights, and Poets of All Time.
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