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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
  • D. 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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