ML Greatest Titles of the 20th Century

1984 : a novel

1984 : a novel

by Orwell, George

A startling and haunting novel, 1984 creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the novel's hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions--a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time

A passage to India

A passage to India

by Forster, E. M.

Hailed as one of the finest novels of the twentieth century and transformed into an Academy Award-winning film, A Passage to India hauntingly evokes India at the peak of the British colonial era, complete with the racial tension that underscores every aspect of daily life. Into this setting, Forster introduces Adela Quested and Mrs. Moor, British visitors to Chandrapore who, despite their strong ties to the elusive colonial community there, are eager for a more authentic taste of India. But when their fates tangle with those of Cecil Fielding and his local friend, Dr. Aziz, at the nearby Marabar Caves, the community of Chandrapore is split wide open and everyone's life--British and Indian alike--is inexorably altered

A portrait of the artist as a young man

A portrait of the artist as a young man

by Joyce, James

Published in 1916 when Joyce was already at work on Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is exactly what its title says and much more. In an exuberantly inventive masterpiece of subjectivity, Joyce portrays his alter ego, Stephen Dedalus, growing up in Dublin and struggling through religious and sexual guilt toward an aesthetic awakening. In part a vivid picture of Joyce's own youthful evolution into one of the twentieth century's greatest writers, it is also a moment in the intellectual history of an age

An American tragedy

An American tragedy

by Dreiser, Theodore

Clyde Griffiths finds his social-climbing aspirations and love for a rich and beautiful debutante threatened when his lower-class pregnant girlfriend gives him an ultimatum.

Animal farm : a fairy story

Animal farm : a fairy story

by Orwell, George

A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satric fables ever penned - a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution againsty tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible. When Animal farm was first published, Stalinist Russia was seen as its target. Today it is a devastatingly clear that whatever banner, the cutting clarity and savage comedy of George Orwell's masterpiece have a meaning and message still ferociously fresh

As I lay dying : the corrected text

As I lay dying : the corrected text

by Faulkner, William

One of William Faulkner's finest novels, As I Lay Dying, originally published in 1930, remains a captivating and stylistically innovative work. The story revolves around a grim yet darkly humorous pilgrimage, as Addie Bundren's family sets out to fulfill her last wish: to be buried in her native Jefferson, Mississippi, far from the miserable backwater surroundings of her married life. Told through multiple voices, As I Lay Dying vividly brings to life Faulkner's imaginary South, one of literature's great invented landscapes, and is replete with the poignant, impoverished, violent, and hypnotically fascinating characters that were his trademark.

Brave new world

Brave new world

by Huxley, Aldous

Aldous Huxley's profoundly important classic of world literature, Brave New World is a searching vision of an unequal, technologically-advanced future where humans are genetically bred, socially indoctrinated, and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively uphold an authoritarian ruling order--all at the cost of our freedom, full humanity, and perhaps also our souls. "A genius [who] who spent his life decrying the onward march of the Machine" (The New Yorker), Huxley was a man of incomparable talents: equally an artist, a spiritual seeker, and one of history's keenest observers of human nature and civilization.

Go tell it on the mountain

Go tell it on the mountain

by Baldwin, James

James Baldwin's stunning first novel is now an American classic. With startling realism that brings Harlem and the black experience vividly to life, this is a work that touches the heart with emotion while it stimulates the mind with its narrative style, symbolism, and excoriating vision of racism in America. Moving through time from the rural South to the northern ghetto, starkly contrasting the attitudes of two generations of an embattles family, Go Tell It On The Mountain is an unsurpassed portrayal of human beings caught up in a dramatic struggle and of a society confronting inevitable change.

Howards End

Howards End

by Forster, E. M.

What makes this masterpiece a pure delight for contemporary readers is its vibrant portrait of life in Edwardian England, and the wonderful characters who inhabit the charming old country house in Hertfordshire called Howards End. This cozy house becomes the object of an inheritance dispute between the upright conservative Wilcox family and the Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, sensitive and intuitive women loved by men willing to leap wide social barriers to fulfill their ardor. Through romantic entanglements, disappearing wills, and sudden tragedy, the conflict over the house emerges as a symbolic struggle for England’s future. Rich with the tradition, spirit, and wit distinctively English, Howards End is a remarkable novel of rare insight and understanding. As in his celebrated A Passage to India, E. M. Forster brings to vivid life a country and an era through the destinies of his unforgettable characters

Invisible man

Invisible man

by Ellison, Ralph

In this deeply compelling novel and epic milestone of American literature, a nameless narrator tells his story from the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.

Slaughterhouse-five, or, the children's crusade : a duty-dance with death

Slaughterhouse-five, or, the children's crusade : a duty-dance with death

by Vonnegut, Kurt

Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world's great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had witnessed as an American prisoner of war. It combines historical fiction, science fiction, autobiography, and satire in an account of the life of Billy Pilgrim, a barber's son turned draftee turned optometrist turned alien abductee. As Vonnegut had, Billy experiences the destruction of Dresden as a POW. Unlike Vonnegut, he experiences time travel, or coming "unstuck in time."

Studs Lonigan : a trilogy

Studs Lonigan : a trilogy

by Farrell, James T.

This Library of America volume contains one of the masterpieces of American naturalism and a major influence on generations of American novelists, James T. Farrell's Studs Lonigan trilogy. Farrell follows the hopes and dissipations of its remarkable main character through the turbulent years of World War I, the Roaring Twenties, and the Great Depression. In William "Studs" Lonigan--a would-be tough guy and archetypal adolescent born to Irish-American parents on Chicago's South Side--Farrell creates an anti-heroic Everyman helplessly stifled by the conditions under which he grows up. The three novels--Young Lonigan (1932), The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan (1934), and Judgment Day (1935)--are unparalleled in their sense of the textures of real life: of the institutions of Catholicism, the poolroom and the dance marathon, romance and marriage, gangsterism and ethnic rivalry.

Tender is the night

Tender is the night

by Fitzgerald, F. Scott

Set in the south of France in the late 1920s, Tender Is the Night is the tragic tale of a young actress, Rosemary Hoyt, and her complicated relationship with the alluring American couple Dick and Nicole Diver. A brilliant psychiatrist at the time of his marriage, Dick is both husband and doctor to Nicole, whose wealth pushed him into a glamorous lifestyle, and whose growing strength highlights Dick's decline.

The good soldier : a tale of passion

The good soldier : a tale of passion

by Ford, Ford Madox

At the fashionable German spa town Bad Nauheim, two wealthy, fin de siecle couples -- one British, the other American -- meet for their yearly assignation. As their story moves back and forth in time between 1902 and 1914, the fragile surface propriety of the pre -- World War I society in which these four characters live is ruptured -- revealing deceit, hatred, infidelity, and betrayal. "The Good Soldier" is Edward Ashburnham, who, as an adherent to the moral code of the English upper class, is nonetheless consumed by a passion for women younger than his wife -- a stoic but fallible figure in what his American friend, John Dowell, calls "the saddest story I ever heard."

The grapes of wrath

The grapes of wrath

by Steinbeck, John

First published in 1939, Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads-driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity.

The great Gatsby

The great Gatsby

by Fitzgerald, F. Scott

The story of the mysteriously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted "gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession," it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

The heart is a lonely hunter

The heart is a lonely hunter

by McCullers, Carson

Carson McCullers was all of twenty-three when she published her first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. She became an overnight literary sensation, and soon such authors as Tennessee Williams were calling her "the greatest prose writer that the South [has] produced." Available now for the first time on audio from Caedmon and HarperAudio, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter tells an unforgettable tale of moral isolation in a small southern mill town in the 1930s.

The sound and the fury : the corrected text

The sound and the fury : the corrected text

by Faulkner, William

The Sound and the Fury is the tragedy of the Compson family, featuring some of the most memorable characters in literature: beautiful, rebellious Caddy; the manchild Benjy; haunted, neurotic Quentin; Jason, the brutal cynic; and Dilsey, their black servant. Their lives fragmented and harrowed by history and legacy, the character's voices and actions mesh to create what is arguably Faulkner's masterpiece and one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.

The wings of the dove

The wings of the dove

by James, Henry

James drew on the memory of a beloved cousin who died young to create one of the three central characters, Milly Theale, an heiress with a short time to live and a passion for experiencing life to its fullest. To the creation of the other two, Merton Densher and the magnificent, predatory Kate Croy, who conspire in an act of deceit and betrayal, he brought a lifetime's distilled wisdom about the frailty of the human soul when it is trapped in the depths of need and desire. And he brought to the drama that unites these three characters, in the drawing rooms of London and on the storm-lit piazzas of Venice, a starkness and classical purity almost unprecedented in his work.

U.S.A.

U.S.A.

by Dos Passos, John

In the novels that make up the trilogy--The 42nd Parallel, 1919, and The Big Money--Dos Passos creates an unforgettable collective portrait of America, shot through with sardonic comedy and brilliant social observation. He interweaves the careers of his characters and the events of their time with a narrative verve and breathtaking technical skill that make U.S.A. among the most compulsively readable of modern classics.

Works

Works

by Wright, Richard

Native Son exploded on the American literary scene in 1940. The story of Bigger Thomas, a young black man living in the raw, noisy, crowded slums of Chicago's South Side, captured the hopes and yearnings, the pain and rage of black Americans with an unprecedented intensity and vividness. The text printed in this volume restores the changes and cuts--including the replacement of an entire scene--that Wright was forced to make by book club editors who feared offending their readers. The unexpurgated version of Wright's electrifying novel shows his determination to write honestly about his controversial protagonist. As he wrote in the essay "How 'Bigger' Was Born," which accompanies the novel: "I became convinced that if I did not write Bigger as I saw and felt him, I'd be acting out of fear."

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