Le Monde’s 100 Books of the Century

September 5, 2011 § 10 Comments

This list was published back in the late 1990s, but it still is a markedly different list than what Anglo-American publications produced around the same time.  Bold for the titles read (whether in the original or in translation), italics for the ones owned but not yet read, and plain for unread works.

1.              The Stranger    Albert Camus
2.              Remembrance of Things Past     Marcel Proust
3.              The Trial    Franz Kafka
4.              The Little Prince    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
5.              Man’s Fate           André Malraux
6.              Journey to the End of the Night            Louis-Ferdinand Céline
7.              The Grapes of Wrath      John Steinbeck
8.              For Whom the Bell Tolls             Ernest Hemingway
9.              Le Grand Meaulnes         Alain-Fournier
10.          Froth on the Daydream   Boris Vian
11.          The Second Sex     Simone de Beauvoir
12.          Waiting for Godot            Samuel Beckett
13.          Being and Nothingness     Jean-Paul Sartre
14.          The Name of the Rose    Umberto Eco
15.          The Gulag Archipelago   Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
16.          Paroles     Jacques Prévert
17.          Alcools      Guillaume Apollinaire
18.          The Blue Lotus    Hergé
19.          The Diary of a Young Girl           Anne Frank
20.          Tristes Tropiques            Claude Lévi-Strauss
21.          Brave New World            Aldous Huxley
22.          Nineteen Eighty-Four     George Orwell
23.          Asterix the Gaul      René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo
24.          The Bald Soprano           Eugène Ionesco
25.          Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality         Sigmund Freud
26.          The Abyss/Zeno of Bruges         Marguerite Yourcenar
27.          Lolita         Vladimir Nabokov
28.          Ulysses     James Joyce
29.          The Tartar Steppe          Dino Buzzati
30.          The Counterfeiters         André Gide
31.          The Horseman on the Roof        Jean Giono
32.          Belle du Seigneur            Albert Cohen
33.          One Hundred Years of Solitude            Gabriel García Márquez
34.          The Sound and the Fury            William Faulkner
35.          Thérèse Desqueyroux    François Mauriac
36.          Zazie in the Metro           Raymond Queneau
37.          Confusion of Feelings     Stefan Zweig
38.          Gone with the Wind        Margaret Mitchell
39.          Lady Chatterley’s Lover             D. H. Lawrence
40.          The Magic Mountain       Thomas Mann
41.          Bonjour Tristesse            Françoise Sagan
42.          Le Silence de la mer        Vercors
43.          Life: A User’s Manual      Georges Perec
44.          The Hound of the Baskervilles     Arthur Conan Doyle
45.          Under the Sun of Satan Georges Bernanos
46.          The Great Gatsby            F. Scott Fitzgerald
47.          The Joke   Milan Kundera
48.          A Ghost at Noon/Contempt        Alberto Moravia
49.          The Murder of Roger Ackroyd   Agatha Christie
50.          Nadja        André Breton
51.          Aurelien   Louis Aragon
52.          The Satin Slipper            Paul Claudel
53.          Six Characters in Search of an Author Luigi Pirandello
54.          The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui             Bertolt Brecht
55.          Friday       Michel Tournier
56.          The War of the Worlds    H. G. Wells
57.          If This Is a Man/Survival in Auschwitz             Primo Levi
58.          The Lord of the Rings     J. R. R. Tolkien
59.          Les Vrilles de la vigne (French)      Colette
60.          Capital of Pain     Paul Éluard
61.          Martin Eden        Jack London
62.          Ballad of the Salt Sea      Hugo Pratt
63.          Writing Degree Zero       Roland Barthes
64.          The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum     Heinrich Böll
65.          The Opposing Shore       Julien Gracq
66.          The Order of Things       Michel Foucault
67.          On the Road         Jack Kerouac
68.          The Wonderful Adventures of Nils       Selma Lagerlöf
69.          A Room of One’s Own     Virginia Woolf
70.          The Martian Chronicles    Ray Bradbury
71.          The Ravishing of Lol Stein          Marguerite Duras
72.          The Interrogation           J. M. G. Le Clézio
73.          Tropisms     Nathalie Sarraute
74.          Journal, 1887–1910       Jules Renard
75.          Lord Jim   Joseph Conrad
76.          Écrits        Jacques Lacan
77.          The Theatre and its Double       Antonin Artaud
78.          Manhattan Transfer       John Dos Passos
79.          Ficciones   Jorge Luis Borges
80.          Moravagine          Blaise Cendrars
81.          The General of the Dead Army     Ismail Kadare
82.          Sophie’s Choice   William Styron
83.          Gypsy Ballads      Federico García Lorca
84.          The Strange Case of Peter the Lett       Georges Simenon
85.          Our Lady of the Flowers             Jean Genet
86.          The Man Without Qualities        Robert Musil
87.          Furor and Mystery          René Char
88.          The Catcher in the Rye    J. D. Salinger
89.          No Orchids For Miss Blandish    James Hadley Chase
90.          Blake and Mortimer        Edgar P. Jacobs
91.          The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge           Rainer Maria Rilke
92.          Second Thoughts            Michel Butor
93.          The Burden of Our Time/The Origins of Totalitarianism      Hannah Arendt
94.          The Master and Margarita         Mikhail Bulgakov
95.          The Rosy Crucifixion       Henry Miller
96.          The Big Sleep       Raymond Chandler
97.          Amers       Saint-John Perse
98.          Gaston/Gomer Goof      André Franquin
99.          Under the Volcano          Malcolm Lowry

100.    Midnight’s Children    Salman Rushdie 

OK, read just over a third of these.  How many have you read/own?  Which ones of the non-highlighted titles would you recommend to me and/or others and why? 


§ 10 Responses to Le Monde’s 100 Books of the Century

  • rahkan says:

    I really liked Sarraute's Tropisms. It was a very interesting reading experience. Probably too strange to have been readable (for me) at a longer length, but with about 20 thousand word stories, it was perfect.Also really enjoyed Celine's Journey To The End Of The Night. The style of dialogue is interesting in itself, with its long speeches and frequent ellipses. And the adventures were very entertaining (and very black, in outlook), particularly the parts in the United States.

  • James says:

    Have read:The Great GatsbyThe War of the WorldsBoth were part of the curriculum my English teacher threw together at random. Unlike my fellow students, I enjoyed The Great Gatsby and it is the only one from my high school years that I look upon favorably. I vaguely remember being forced to read The War of the Worlds during my senior year, but have no idea if I enjoyed it or not.Own:Nineteen Eighty-FourThe Lord of the RingsMy lousy English teacher, whose assignments were random and largely consisted of playing his favorite music and having us write about in our journals, decided to tell us how Nineteen Eighty-Four ended instead of assigning it to us. This, combined with my distaste for dystopian fiction, has stripped me of any desire to read it. However, I did buy a copy a few years ago… just in case.I attempted to read The Lord of the Rings and only managed to get a little over a hundred pages in. A boring slog with pin-pricks of torture in the form of songs. I may own a copy, but I doubt I will pick it up again.—As with most of the lists posted, my totals are dismal. You get used to it after a while.

  • What a fun list!I've not read all of Tristes Tropiques, but dip into it now and then and always find it fascinating and stimulating, with a richness of prose and vision that's astounding. Life: A User's Manual is definitely worth checking out, and virtually impossible to describe. Six Characters is the most famous Pirandello play and so influential that one is tempted to exclaim as an apocryphal student once did of Hamlet: "It's nothing but cliches!" I like some of Pirandello more because it's less familiar (e.g. Henry IV), but it's definitely on a very small list of the most important plays of the 20th century. (Unlike the Brecht. Arturo Ui?! Over Threepenny Opera, Mother Courage, and The Caucasian Chalk Circle?! Insanity!) Breton's Nadja is a head trip and absolutely essential surrealism; also very short, which I like. I love Barthes, but Writing Degree Zero seems a strange choice (Barthes by Barthes or Lover's Discourse would be mine). Renard's Journal is magnificent, just beautiful selections from the everyday life of a writer — it's a book I once assigned a writing class, in fact, and they liked it. The Theatre & Its Double is some of the craziest theorizing you could ever read, and yet, despite its craziness, it almost convinces me it is sane. Rilke's Notebooks is sort of the prototypical poet's novel, well worth seeking out. And Under the Volcano is logorrheic, drunken stream-of-consciousness — I read it while staying in Cuernavaca, Mexico, which is where it's set, and had to stop because it was blowing my mind too much; finished it a year or so later, which didn't seem to affect the novel's sense in the least, but made it much more bearable.Ashamed to admit, though will for the sake of truth and justice, that I've never read The Little Prince. Among others…

  • Liviu says:

    This superb list is much more representative imho than the usual Anglo stuff but I grew up on French literature so I am biased…I read 37 of the books there, mostly novels, have and started some 3 or 4 – most notably Belle de Seigneur and The Interrogation, while I am unsure of one or two since the English titles are unfamiliar but I read a lot of say Boris Vian in French or RomanianThe Opposing Shore and Master and Margarita are among my all time favorite novels and I have no qualms about The Stranger heading the list since it is a masterpiece

  • Hélène says:

    What a hodgepodge of a list! Ballad of the Salt Sea, Blake and Mortimer, Asterix, Lotus bleu, Gaston : these are comics, all good, some on the fun side (Astérix, Gaston), some on the poetic side (Ballad :+++)I couldn't bear Journey to the end of the night nor The man without qualities but that's idiosyncratic. Kundera considers Musil is one of the greatest novelists of all time. So feel free to read them! :)Remembrance of things past is a great journey : you need time and a quiet mind to dive into such a work. Tristes tropiques is a favorite. Levi Strauss wrote about his travels in Amazonia and the book begins by "I hate travelling". It's a great achievement as an anthropologist and as a writer.

  • Roland says:

    I have read 10 on that list.Weird that they have some comics on the list; Asterix and Tintin (Blue Lotus).Is Camus' Stranger that good?

  • Nick says:

    I've read eighteen of those listed, five of which I often cite in my "Top 10" works I consider the most important I've read:1. The Stranger Albert Camus 21. Brave New World Aldous Huxley 28. Ulysses James Joyce 33. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez 94. The Master and Margarita Mikhail BulgakovI prefer Kafka's The Castle (part of my aforementioned "Top 10"), having found The Trial quite a chore in comparison. So while I appreciate the inclusion of Kafka on the list I debate the choice of work.My recommendation from the list is Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello. I was introduced to it by my great aunt who had seen it performed on stage in New York back when she was a teenager. I found her description of it (as simply Pirandello, from which she would recite scenes as she remembered them) fascinating when I was younger.

  • Mimouille says:

    – If you intend to read Remembrance of Things Past, you should do it with much attention. To a certain extent, it deserves to be studied and analyzed and not only read. The concept of the "Madeleine de Proust" is always with me – Journey to the End of the Night by Celine is one of my favorite books of all time, such an in depth view of human frailty and misery – Froth on the Daydream is great if you are into surrealist literature…could not read it as a teen, but it was much better later- In my opinion, The Counterfeiters by Gide can easily be overlooked…he depicts totally unrealistic characters to fit his troublesome fantasies (older men and young adolescents) – The Horseman on the Roof is a great read, very comparable in my opinion to Camus' Plague – Belle du Seigneur is two books in one, a social criticism (which I loved) and a love story (extremely annoying) but which should still be read to discover a magnificent author (Mangeclous is maybe a better place to start)- Les Vrilles de la vigne by Colette is fine if you like extensive descriptions of the beauty of nature…- Ballad of the Salt Sea is actually the first in a series of magnificent graphic novels from Hugo Pratt, which must absolutely be read (I love the drawings)- Confusion of Feelings from Zweig I couldn't get into (I tried it young). I much preferred the Chess Player or Beware of Pity (a masterpiece)

  • Gabriele C. says:

    OK, now we need a Russian and a German list, too, and I may get most of the books I read covered. :)And this time I beat Larry. 😉 I've read about 70% of books on the list.

  • BarryA says:

    Hm… I've read 23 (that doesn't include two I started but couldn't be bothered to finish).'Gulag Archipelago' should be on your tbr pile.Asterix… not 'A. the Gaul', the magic duo hadn't quite got into their stride in that the first in the series, 'Asterix in Britain' is much funnier, giving the French take on traditional English eccentricities.'The Big Sleep' – literature it ain't, enjoyable it is.

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