The Empire Literature Top 100 (Full Version)

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rawlinson -> The Empire Literature Top 100 (22/1/2013 7:25:18 PM)

After a few delays, the final list is ready and the countdown is going to begin. Might be slow going at first, but I wanted to make a start. Can any discussion about the list be kept to the other thread

just so this one can be kept clear for updates.

Having stolen the basic idea from Rhubarb, I'm also going to steal the basic layout design he used last time. In fact, the only thing I won't be taking from him is his inability to complete the list. [:D] First entry, a tie at number 100, up in a minute.

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (22/1/2013 7:27:06 PM)

100. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1943) Novella


Plot: A pilot crash-landed in the desert encounters a prince who has come to Earth from his home planet, a small asteroid where he cares for a Rose. A children's book at first glance, but it's one of the most moving pieces of literature ever created.

Adapted: As a live-action musical in the 70s, as an animated short, as an animated t.v. series and various audio adaptations. It's screaming out to be filmed by Ghibli.

From the Text: "Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."

Criticism: "rarely have an author and a character been so intimately bound together as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his Little Prince... the two remain tangled together, twin innocents who fell from the sky"

100. A Passage to India - E.M. Forster (1924) Novel


Plot: Forster examines the tensions of India under British rule as young British schoolmistress Adela Quested accuses Indian Dr. Aziz of sexual assault.

Adapted: For t.v. in the 1960s, as a play, and, most famously, as an Oscar-winning film directed by David Lean. Sadly, a planned adaptation by Satyajit Ray was never made.

From the Text: "Most of life is so dull that there is nothing to be said about it, and the books and talks that would describe it as interesting are obliged to exaggerate, in the hope of justifying their own existence."

Criticism: "Mr. Forster, in fact, has reached the stage in his development as an artist when, in his own words about Miss Quested, he is "no longer examining life, but being examined by it." He has been examined by India, and this is his confession."

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (22/1/2013 7:36:05 PM)

99. On the Road - Jack Kerouac (1957) Novel


Plot: The beat era road trips of narrator Sal Paradise and the free-spirited Dean Moriarty. Inspired by Kerouac's own life, the novel was a landmark in American culture.

Adapted: After various planned adaptations stalled over the decades, it finally hit the cinemas just last year, directed by Walter Salles.

From the Text: "The car was swaying as Dean and I both swayed to the rhythm and the IT of our final excited joy in talking and living to the blank tranced end of all innumerable riotous angelic particulars that had been lurking in our souls all our lives.

Criticism: "the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as 'beat,' and whose principal avatar he is."

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (22/1/2013 7:58:48 PM)

98. The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham (1951) Novel


Plot: Post-apocalyptic sci-fi. People are blinded by the colours from a meteor shower. As society decays around them, people try to establish a colony away from the cities, but danger comes from the Triffids, large poisonous, carnivorous plants that are capable of movement.

Adapted: Several radio versions, a film, a shitty t.v. series in 2009 and an excellent one in 1981.

From the Text: “When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.”

Criticism: "rarely have the details of [the] collapse been treated with such detailed plausibility and human immediacy, and never has the collapse been attributed to such an unusual and terrifying source."

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (23/1/2013 1:44:57 PM)

97. Girlfriend in a Coma - Douglas Coupland (1998) Novel


Plot: A teenage girl has a vision of a dystopian future and then falls into a coma. Her friends grow up around her as her coma lasts for nearly two decades, then, one day, she wakes...

Adapted: For the radio.

From the Text: “I didn't realize then that so much of being adult is reconciling ourselves with the awkwardness and strangeness of our own feelings. Youth is the time of life lived for some imaginary audience"

Criticism: "a disturbing, thought-provoking and moving novel. Girlfriend in a Coma has something of the quality of a fairytale, but it contains a sharp realism that makes the book scarily contemporary"

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (23/1/2013 1:45:49 PM)

96. Waiting for Godot - Samuel Beckett (1953) Play


Plot: Vladimir and Estragon bicker, play and do anything to pass the time while they await the arrival of the mysterious Godot.

Adapted: For the radio, for t.v., and for the Beckett on Film series.

From the Text:
Estragon: I can't go on like this.
Vladimir: That's what you think.

Criticism: “Were we not in the theater, we should, like them, be clowning and quarreling, aimlessly bickering and aimlessly making up — all, as one of them says, ‘to give the impression that we exist.’ ”

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (23/1/2013 2:00:58 PM)

95. Peanuts - Charles Schulz (1950) Comic Strip


Plot: The adventures of Charlie Brown, a little boy with a huge inferiority complex, his dog Snoopy, and the various children of their neighbourhood.

Adapted: A series of animated films, including the legendary A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

From the Text: "I hate myself for not having enough nerve to talk to her! Well, that's not exactly true... I hate myself for a lot of other reasons too."

Criticism: "Just beneath the cheerful surface were vulnerabilities and anxieties that we all experienced, but were reluctant to acknowledge. By sharing those feelings with us, Schulz showed us a vital aspect of our common humanity, which is, it seems to me, the ultimate goal of great art."

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (23/1/2013 2:22:41 PM)

94. One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night - Christopher Brookmyre (1999) Novel


Plot: A school reunion is scheduled to take place in a unique location, on an oil rig. But a group of mercenaries are heading to the same rig.

Adapted: Not that I'm aware.

From the Text: "There's nothing quite like a man covered in blood to cool your ardour, unless perhaps you're Robert Mapplethorpe. ."

Criticism: "The running gags and knowingness about movies ought to be less amusing than they are, but Brookmyre's underlying affection for ordinary people and contempt for bullies stops them being self-indulgent.

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (24/1/2013 8:51:38 PM)

93.A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce (1916) Novel


Plot: The coming-of-age of a young man against the political and religious backdrop of early 20th century Ireland.

Adapted: As a film in 1977

From the Text: "When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.

Criticism: "a huge influence on novelists across the world"

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (24/1/2013 8:52:37 PM)

92. The Stand - Stephen King (1978) Novel


Plot: When a virus wipes out most of the population, the survivors find themselves having dreams that lead them to either the saintly Mother Abigail or the demonic Randall Flagg.

Adapted: As a t.v. mini-series

From the Text: “That wasn't any act of God. That was an act of pure human fuckery.”

Criticism: "In short (well, not so short), this is the book that has everything - adventure, romance, prophecy, allegory, satire, fantasy, realism, apocalypse, etc., etc. Even Roger Rabbit gets mentioned."

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (24/1/2013 8:53:28 PM)

91. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - John le Carré (1974) Novel


Plot: George Smiley is brought out of retirement to track down a mole in the Circus, the highest level of British espionage.

Adapted: As a near-perfect t.v. mini-series with Alec Guinness, then again as a brilliant film with Gary Oldman. Also a couple of radio versions.

From the Text: “I'm surprised they didn't throw you out with the rest of us. You had all the qualifications for losing your job; good at your work, loyal, discreet."

Criticism: "Smiley is thus an anti-James Bond, an unheroic, frequently cuckolded secret agent who looks like a shy and miserable clerk in an old London bank. In fact, of course, Smiley is the finest secret agent in the world; his pathetic demeanor conceals a brilliant mind and stout heart. Smiley is one of the last English gentlemen -- not a strutting parody of the clubman, like Bond, or a foppish and conniving political type, but an honorable, decent fellow who hasn't much hope or comfort in the postwar world.."

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (26/1/2013 9:26:03 PM)

90. The Third Policeman - Flann O'Brien (1967) Novel


Plot: After murdering someone for his money, our narrator finds himself in a strange alternate world that obeys no rational laws. A work of cracked genius that demands to be read.

Adapted: Sadly not.

From the Text: “if you identify life with enjoyment I am told there is better brand of it in the cities than in the country parts and there is said to be a very superior brand of it to be had in certain parts of France. Did you ever notice that cats have a lot of it in them when they are quite juveniles?”

Criticism: "it will be rediscovered, and again, and again. There's no killing a piece of mythic power like that"

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (26/1/2013 9:26:40 PM)

89. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson (1886) Novella


Plot: The respected Dr. Jekyll harbours a dark secret, his other persona of the deadly Mr. Hyde.

Adapted: Dozens of times.

From the Text: “There comes an end to all things; the most capacious measure is filled at last; and this brief condescension to evil finally destroyed the balance of my soul.”

Criticism: "a marvellously powerful and subtle psychological story"

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (29/1/2013 12:07:21 PM)

88. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh (1945) Novel


Plot: The friendship of Charles Ryder and Lord Sebastian Flyte, from their meeting at university through Sebastian's descent into alcoholism.

Adapted: As one of the greatest television series of all time. And as a pretty shitty film.

From the Text: "O God, if there is a God, forgive him his sins, if there is such a thing as sin."

Criticism: ""Brideshead Revisited" has the depth and weight that are found in a writer working in his prime, in the full powers of an eager, good mind and a skilled hand, retaining the best of what he has already learned. It tells an absorbing story in imaginative terms. By indirection it summarizes and comments upon a time and a society. It has an almost romantic sense of wonder, together with the provocative, personal point of view of a writer who sees life realistically."

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (29/1/2013 12:07:56 PM)

87. At the Mountains of Madness - H.P. Lovecraft (1936) Novella


Plot: A research trip to the Antarctic discovers unsettling secrets, including the ruins of an ancient city.

Adapted: On the radio, Guillermo Del Toro has been trying to get a film going for years.

From the Text: “I could not help feeling that they were evil things -- mountains of madness whose farther slopes looked out over some accursed ultimate abyss."

Criticism: "a good deal more lucid than much of the master's work,"

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (30/1/2013 10:09:18 PM)

86. Pale Fire - Vladimir Nabokov (1962) Novel


Plot: Presented as a 999 line poem written by John Shade, mixed with commentary and diversions from Shade's friend, Charles Kinbote.

Adapted: On the radio.

From the Text: “All colors made me happy: even gray.
My eyes were such that literally they
Took photographs. ”

Criticism: "Pale Fire is only termed a novel because there’s no other term for it. It’s a masterly literary artifact which is poem, commentary, casebook, allegory, sheer structure. But I note that most people go back to reading the poem, not what surrounds the poem. It’s a fine poem, of course"

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (30/1/2013 10:10:01 PM)

85. A Streetcar Named Desire - Tennessee Williams (1947) Play


Plot: Fragile southern belle Blanche Dubois visits her sister Stella and finds herself unsettled both by the city of New Orleans and by Stella's brutish husband, Stanley.

Adapted: For television, as an opera, as a ballet, and as the multiple Oscar winning film that launched Marlon Brando to stardom.

From the Text: “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

Criticism: By the usual Broadway standards, "A Streetcar Named Desire" is too long; not all those words are essential. But Mr. Williams is entitled to his own independence. For he has not forgotten that human beings are the basic subject of art. Out of poetic imagination and ordinary compassion he has spun a poignant and luminous story.

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (1/2/2013 2:59:05 PM)

84. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (1908) Novel


Plot: The lives of four anthropomorphised animal friends, Toad, Badger, Mole and Ratty are charted over the changing seasons in pastoral, riverside England. One of the finest books ever written.

Adapted: Several times, for television, cinema and radio.

From the Text: “He thought his happiness was complete when, as he meandered aimlessly along, suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river. Never in his life had he seen a river before—this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shake and a-shiver—glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spell-bound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.

Criticism: "a book which offers such wealth of beauty and fun, of sense and nonsense, of joy and seriousness expressed in words whose music is a joy in itself … Into it Kenneth Grahame put the whole of himself and his love of life and of living things."

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (1/2/2013 2:59:42 PM)

83. Scott Pilgrim - Bryan Lee O'Malley (2004 - 2010) Graphic Novel Series


Plot: Scott falls for Ramona, but her evil exes stand between Pilgrim and true love.

Adapted: As a rather brilliant film.

From the Text: Okay! I had to fight a dude to get with her! I fought a crazy seven-foot-tall purple-suited dude! And I had to fight 96 guys to get to him, too! He was flying and shooting lightning bolts from his eyes and he could make people do whatever he said automatically! He was totally awesome! And I kicked him so far he saw the curvature of the Earth!!

Criticism: O'Malley has raised the bar, art-wise: His deceptively basic style is suddenly deeper, richer, and more mature, while his eye for dynamics and graphic economy has gotten even keener.

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (1/2/2013 3:34:36 PM)

82. The Complete Maus - Art Spiegelman (1980 - 1991) Graphic Novel Series


Plot: The cartoonist author chronicles his father's life as a Holocaust survivor, depicting the Jewish Concentration Camp prisoners as mice and the Nazi guards as cats.

Adapted: Sadly not, would make a brilliant piece of adult animation.

From the Text: “To die, it's easy. But you have to struggle for life.”

Criticism: By situating a nonfictional story in a highly mediated, unreal, 'comic' space, Spiegelman captures the hyperintensity of Auschwitz

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (4/2/2013 9:54:50 PM)

80. V - Thomas Pynchon (1963) Novel


Plot: Benny Profane, fresh out of the Navy, finds himself crossing paths with Stencil, who is searching for the identity of the mysterious V.

Adapted: Sadly not.

From the Text: “Life's single lesson: that there is more accident to it than a man can ever admit to in a lifetime and stay sane.”

Criticism: "In this sort of book, there is no total to arrive at. Nothing makes any waking sense. But it makes a powerful, deeply disturbing dream sense. Nothing in the book seems to have been thrown in arbitrarily, merely to confuse, as is the case when inept authors work at illusion. Pynchon appears to be indulging in the fine, pre-Freudian luxury of dreams dreamt for the dreaming. The book sails with majesty through caverns measureless to man. What does it mean? Who, finally, is V.? Few books haunt the waking or the sleeping mind, but this is one. Who, indeed?"

80. The Iliad - Homer (8BC) Poem


Plot: Epic poem about the Battle of Troy

Adapted: Loosely adapted in many artforms.

From the Text: “Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth.”

Criticism: "The true hero, the true subject, the centre of the Iliad, is force. Force employed by man, force that enslaves man, force before which man's flesh shrinks away. In this work at all times, the human spirit is shown as modified by its relation to force, as swept away, blinded, by the very force it imagined it could handle, as deformed by the weight of the force it submits to."

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (4/2/2013 11:00:42 PM)

79. The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson (1959) Novel


Plot: A parapsychologist assembles a team of people with paranormal experiences to investigate the legendary, allegedly haunted, Hill House.

Adapted: As a masterpiece of cinema in 1963 and as a fuck-witted piece of shit in 1999

From the Text: “No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”

Criticism: "widely regarded as the greatest haunted-house story ever written"

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (7/2/2013 12:23:37 AM)

78. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle (1892) Short Story Collection


Plot: The first collection of adventures of the great detective.

Adapted: Most of the stories have been adapted in one form or another over the years.

From the Text: “To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise, but admirably balanced mind.”

Criticism: ""The adventures of Sherlock Holmes will always retain their definitive place in detection fiction because they work its magic with unparalleled wit and assurance, embracing crime, irrationality, and evil, in order ultimately to reassert justice, reason, and right.""

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (7/2/2013 12:24:13 AM)

77. White Noise - Don DeLillo (1985) Novel


Plot: A professor of Hitler Studies and his wife find their fear of death increased by the black cloud Toxic Airborne Event and the white noise of rampant consumerism.

Adapted: No. It has nothing to do with the Michael Keaton film. [:D]

From the Text: “How strange it is. We have these deep terrible lingering fears about ourselves and the people we love. Yet we walk around, talk to people, eat and drink. We manage to function. The feelings are deep and real. Shouldn’t they paralyze us? How is it we can survive them, at least for awhile? We drive a car, we teach a class. How is it that no one sees how deeply afraid we were, last night, this morning? Is it something we all hide from each other, by mutual consent? Or do we share the same secret without knowing it? Wear the same disguise"

Criticism: 'White Noise'' finds its greatest distinction in its understanding and perception of America's soundtrack. White noise includes the ever-present sound of expressway traffic, ''a remote and steady murmur around our sleep, as of dead souls babbling at the edge of a dream.

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (7/2/2013 12:24:50 AM)

76. The Kreutzer Sonata - Leo Tolstoy (1889) Novella


Plot: A dissection of the way marriage can quickly turn love to hate

Adapted: Several times on both film and television.

From the Text: "Thus we passed two years more. The method prescribed by the rascals [doctors] had evidently succeeded. My wife had grown stouter and handsomer. It was the beauty of the end of summer. She felt it, and paid much attention to her person. She had acquired that provoking beauty that stirs men. She was in all the brilliancy of the wife of thirty years, who conceives no children, eats heartily, and is excited. The very sight of her was enough to frighten one."

Criticism: "Few other novelists could have made compelling reading out of sentiments and arguments which are irritating and manifestly unjust. Few other novelists could have given pathos and poignancy to the ending of a story whose limits appear to be laid down by the advice proffered in its opening chapters: 'Do not trust your horse in the field, or your wife in the house'."

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (7/2/2013 12:25:25 AM)

75. The White People - Arthur Machen (1904) Short Story


Plot: A narrative about the diary of a young girl, following her life as she explores the ritual magic in the countryside, along with other, darker discoveries.

Adapted: No, but its influence is felt in everything from the writing of Lovecraft to Pan's Labyrinth.

From the Text: "When I was very small, and mother was alive, I can remember remembering things before that, only it has all got confused. But I remember when I was five or six I heard them talking about me when they thought I was not noticing. "

Criticism: "a masterpiece of indirection, a Lovecraft plot told by James Joyce"

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (8/2/2013 3:48:10 PM)

74. George's Marvellous Medicine - Roald Dahl (1981) Novel


Plot: Looking to take revenge upon his mean old granny, young George sets about mixing up a rather peculiar potion.

Adapted: Not as a film, but Rik Mayall's reading of the story for Jackanory became instantly iconic.

From the Text: "Growing's a nasty, childish habit "

Criticism: "I enjoyed the book because it made me laugh. It also made me want to make my own medicine."

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (8/2/2013 3:49:06 PM)

73. Winnie-the-Pooh - AA Milne (1926) Short Story Collection


Plot: The adventures of Pooh, a bear of very little brain, and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood

Adapted: Many times as animated works by Disney. The finest adaptation remains the audio versions with Stephen Fry as Pooh and Geoffrey Palmer as Eeyore.

From the Text: “You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

Criticism: "the perfect book for children"

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (8/2/2013 4:31:34 PM)

72. The Long Goodbye - Raymond Chandler (1953) Novel


Plot: Philip Marlowe befriends a man named Terry Lennox, then finds himself caught up in a murder investigation when Lennox's wife is found dead.

Adapted: On television, the radio, and as a 70s classic directed by Altman.

From the Text: “There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself.”

Criticism: "It's a moody, brooding book, in which Marlowe is less a detective than a disturbed man of 42 on a quest for some evidence of truth and humanity.

rawlinson -> RE: The Empire Literature Top 100 (8/2/2013 5:13:59 PM)

71. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (1865) Novel


Plot: Carroll's classic fantasy sees Alice follow a white rabbit down a rabbit hole and into an odd, alternate world.

Adapted: Many times, most famously by Disney, but Jan Svankmajer's 88 offering and the mid 60s t.v. film are the best versions.

From the Text: “If you drink much from a bottle marked 'poison' it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.

Criticism: a book of that extremely rare kind which will belong to all the generations to come until the language becomes obsolete"

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