Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Books of the Times

George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four has been voted 'definitive book of 20th century' by Guardian readers in an online pol. Sarah Crown describes the book as:
George Orwell's dystopic vision of a totalitarian future in which the population is constantly monitored and manipulated ...
and says that although the book was published in 1948, the midpoint of the century:
... its ongoing relevance is demonstrated by the extent to which its concepts and terminology - Big Brother, Newspeak, Double Think - have seeped into our language. Even the name of its author has been appropriated as an adjective, Orwellian, which is regularly used today in debates over privacy and state intervention.
The 10 books which the public felt best defined the 20th century, in order of publication, were:
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
This is one list where I can say I've read every book (although I cheat a bit with Bridget Jones Diary as I read it as a newspaper column). The original list of books voters chose from is here and is a pretty useful reading list of books which capture the spirit of their decade. (I scored 27 with several more dropped halfway).


Chet said...

It's a pretty accurate list for 8 of the books, I think. Those are the ones I've read. I've never read Bridget Jones, and this is the first time I've heard of Robert Tressell, but it's something I want to check out.

I think Catcher in the Rye got a second chance thanks to the late John Lennon.

Chet said...

Did you see the link to the "Defining the Decades" article? Great stuff in there.

Obiter Dictum said...

Bloomsday is coming.

joyce in the list, is Ulysses that hard to digest?

Well... tastes differ

Anonymous said...

Yes it is obiter.. but it's incredible, you can feel the weather in that book. I suspect it's about as close to a literary work of art that we'll ever get.

Anonymous said...

And where is Sue Townsend's "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole" ? I thought that was pretty definitive. Also, Shirley Conran's "Lace", which defines women in a way they generally do not want to be defined (ie. truthfully an honestly :) )