Saturday, October 29, 2011

Burgess's Choice

99 Novels: The Best in English Since 1939
99 Novels: The Best in English Since 1939 

“The possession of a book becomes a substitute for reading it.” 
― Anthony Burgess

If you like the fiction of Anthony Burgess you will probably enjoy his opinions about other authors. This is his very personal selection of the best English fiction from 1939 through 1983. The authors range from modernists like Joyce, Henry Green and Flann O'Brian to more traditional stylists like Waugh, Graham Greene and Elizabeth Bowen. Some of my personal favorites include Rex Warner (The Aerodrome, 1941), Christopher Isherwood (A Single Man, 1964), and Robertson Davies (The Rebel Angels, 1982); but there are many others that I have enjoyed along with those unfamiliar titles that tempt me based on the trust I have in Burgess's opinions. I am impressed with his selection based on the novels that I have read, but the commentaries are worth reading whether you read the selected works or not. His list is referenced in The Literary Almanac and is worthy of a place among all literate readers' reference shelves.

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