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March 13, 2017by readywriters

Top 100 Works in World Literature


Source: Norwegian Book Clubs, with the Norwegian Nobel Institute, 2002.

The editors of the Norwegian Book Clubs, with the Norwegian Nobel Institute, polled a panel of 100 authors from 54 countries on what they considered the “best and most central works in world literature.” Among the authors polled were Milan Kundera, Doris Lessing, Seamus Heaney, Salman Rushdie, Wole Soyinka, John Irving, Nadine Gordimer, and Carlos Fuentes. The list of 100 works appears alphabetically by author. Although the books were not ranked, the editors revealed that Don Quixote received 50% more votes than any other book.


Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

Hans Christian Andersen, Fairy Tales and Stories

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Honore de Balzac, Old Father Goriot

Samuel Beckett, Trilogy: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable

Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron

Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions

Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

Albert Camus, The Stranger

Paul Celan, Poems

Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Journey to the End of the Night

Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales

Anton Chekhov, Selected Stories; Thousand and One Nights

Joseph Conrad, Nostromo

Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Denis Diderot, Jacques the Fatalist and His Master

Alfred Doblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment; The Idiot; The Possessed; The Brothers Karamazov

George Eliot, Middlemarch

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Euripides, Medea

William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom; The Sound and the Fury

Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary; A Sentimental Education

Federico Garcia Lorca, Gypsy Ballads

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude; Love in the Time of Cholera

Anon, The Epic of Gilgamesh

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust

Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls

Günter Grass, The Tin Drum

Joao Guimaraes Rosa, The Devil to Pay in the Backlands

Knut Hamsun, Hunger

Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

Homer, The Iliad; The Odyssey

Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House

Anon, The Book of Job

James Joyce, Ulysses

Franz Kafka, The Complete Stories; The Trial; The Castle

Kalidasa, The Recognition of Sakuntala

Yasunari Kawabata, The Sound of the Mountain

Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

  1. H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers

Halldor K. Laxness, Independent People

Giacomo Leopardi, Complete Poems

Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking

Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman and Other Stories

Anon, Mahabharata

Naguib Mahfouz, Children of Gebelawi

Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks; The Magic Mountain

Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Michel de Montaigne, Essays

Elsa Morante, History

Toni Morrison, Beloved

Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji

Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita; Njal’s Saga

George Orwell, 1984

Ovid, Metamorphoses

Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Edgar Allan Poe, The Complete Tales

Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past

Francois Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel

Juan Rulfo, Pedro Paramo

Jalalu’l-Din Rumi, The Mathnawi

Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children

Sheikh Saadi of Shiraz, The Bostan of Saadi (The Orchard)

Tayeb Salih, A Season of Migration to the North

Jose Saramago, Blindness

William Shakespeare, Hamlet; King Lear; Othello

Sophocles, Oedipus the King

Stendhal, The Red and the Black

Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy

Italo Svevo, Confessions of Zeno

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace; Anna Karenina; The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories

Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Valmiki, Ramayana

Virgil, The Aeneid

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway; To the Lighthouse

Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian


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