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The Ultimate Reading List: Modern Library's 100 Best Novels

          
Discover the timeless classics that have shaped literature as we know it with The Modern Library's top 100 Best Novels. From groundbreaking works of fiction to beloved tales that have captured the hearts of readers for generations, this list showcases the very best in storytelling and literary achievement. Whether you're a seasoned bookworm or just beginning your literary journey, these novels are sure to inspire, entertain, and provoke thought. Dive into the pages of these exceptional works and experience the power of storytelling at its finest.
 

Ulysses is a modernist novel by Irish writer James Joyce. Parts of it were first serialized in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, and the entire work was published in Paris by Sylvia Beach on 2 February 1922, Joyce's fortieth birthday. It is considered one of the most important works of modernist literature and has been called "a demonstration and summation of the entire movement." According to Declan Kiberd, "Before Joyce, no writer of fiction had so foregrounded the process of thinking."

James Joyce's Ulysses takes place in Dublin on June 16th, now celebrated as Bloomsday.

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The Great Gatsby is a 1925 novel by American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. Set in the Jazz Age on Long Island, near New York City, the novel depicts first-person narrator Nick Carraway's interactions with mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and Gatsby's obsession to reunite with his former lover, Daisy Buchanan.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was inspired by his own experiences and the lavish parties of the 1920s.

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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is the first novel of Irish writer James Joyce, published in 1916. A Künstlerroman written in a modernist style, it traces the religious and intellectual awakening of young Stephen Dedalus, Joyce's fictional alter ego, whose surname alludes to Daedalus, Greek mythology's consummate craftsman. Stephen questions and rebels against the Catholic and Irish conventions under which he has grown, culminating in his self-exile from Ireland to Europe. The work uses techniques that Joyce developed more fully in Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939).

James Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" is considered a groundbreaking modernist novel.

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Lolita is a 1955 novel written by Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov which addresses hebephilia. The protagonist is a French literature professor who moves to New England and writes under the pseudonym Humbert Humbert. He describes his obsession with a 12-year-old "nymphet", Dolores Haze, whom he kidnaps and sexually abuses after becoming her stepfather. Privately, he calls her "Lolita", the Spanish nickname for Dolores. The novel was originally written in English, but fear of censorship in the U.S. and Britain led to it being first published in Paris, France, in 1955 by Olympia Press.

Nabokov's intricate prose and unreliable narrator make Read Lolita a challenging but rewarding read.

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Brave New World is a dystopian novel by English author Aldous Huxley, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State, whose citizens are environmentally engineered into an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to make a dystopian society which is challenged by the story's protagonist. Huxley followed this book with a reassessment in essay form, Brave New World Revisited (1958), and with his final novel, Island (1962), the utopian counterpart. This novel is often compared to George Orwell's 1984 (1949).

Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" explores a dystopian society controlled by technology and conformity.

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The Sound and the Fury is a novel by the American author William Faulkner. It employs several narrative styles, including stream of consciousness. Published in 1929, The Sound and the Fury was Faulkner's fourth novel, and was not immediately successful. In 1931, however, when Faulkner's sixth novel, Sanctuary, was published—a sensationalist story, which Faulkner later said was written only for money—The Sound and the Fury also became commercially successful, and Faulkner began to receive critical attention.

The novel is divided into four sections, each narrated by a different character, offering unique perspectives.

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Catch-22 is a satirical war novel by American author Joseph Heller. He began writing it in 1953; the novel was first published in 1961. Often cited as one of the most significant novels of the twentieth century, it uses a distinctive non-chronological third-person omniscient narration, describing events from the points of view of different characters. The separate storylines are out of sequence so the timeline develops along with the plot.

Catch-22 is a satirical novel set during World War II that critiques bureaucracy and absurdity.

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Darkness at Noon is a novel by Hungarian-born novelist Arthur Koestler, first published in 1940. His best known work, it is the tale of Rubashov, an Old Bolshevik who is arrested, imprisoned, and tried for treason against the government that he helped to create.

Darkness at Noon" is a powerful novel that explores the psychological effects of totalitarianism.

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Sons and Lovers is a 1913 novel by the English writer D. H. Lawrence. It traces emotional conflicts through the protagonist, Paul Morel, and his suffocating relationships with a demanding mother and two very different lovers, which exert complex influences on the development of his manhood. The novel was originally published by Gerald Duckworth and Company Ltd., London, and Mitchell Kennerley Publishers, New York. While the novel initially received a lukewarm critical reception, along with allegations of obscenity, it is today regarded as a masterpiece by many critics and is often regarded as Lawrence's finest achievement. It tells us more about Lawrence's life and his phases, as his first was when he lost his mother in 1910 to whom he was particularly attached. And it was from then that he met Frieda Richthofen, and around this time that he began conceiving his two other great novels, The Rainbow and Women in Love, which had more sexual emphasis and maturity.

D. H. Lawrence's semi-autobiographical novel explores the complexities of family relationships and societal expectations.

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The Grapes of Wrath is an American realist novel written by John Steinbeck and published in 1939. The book won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and it was cited prominently when Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962.

John Steinbeck's novel, The Grapes of Wrath, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1940.

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Under the Volcano is a novel by English writer Malcolm Lowry (1909–1957) published in 1947. The novel tells the story of Geoffrey Firmin, an alcoholic British consul in the Mexican city of Quauhnahuac, on the Day of the Dead in November 1938. The book takes its name from the two volcanoes, Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, that overshadow Quauhnahuac and the characters. Under the Volcano was Lowry's second and last complete novel.

Lowry's novel is set in Mexico during the Day of the Dead celebrations.

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The Way of All Flesh is a semi-autobiographical novel by Samuel Butler that attacks Victorian-era hypocrisy. Written between 1873 and 1884, it traces four generations of the Pontifex family. Butler dared not publish it during his lifetime, but when it was published posthumously in 1903 it was accepted as part of the general reaction against Victorianism. Butler's first literary executor, R. A. Streatfeild, made substantial changes to Butler's manuscript. The original manuscript was first published in 1964 by Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, edited by Daniel F. Howard.

Samuel Butler's semi-autobiographical novel explores the hypocrisy and repression of Victorian society.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four is a dystopian novel and cautionary tale by English writer George Orwell. It was published on 8 June 1949 by Secker & Warburg as Orwell's ninth and final book completed in his lifetime. Thematically, it centres on the consequences of totalitarianism, mass surveillance and repressive regimentation of people and behaviours within society. Orwell, a democratic socialist, modelled the authoritarian state in the novel on the Soviet Union in the era of Stalinism, and Nazi Germany. More broadly, the novel examines the role of truth and facts within societies and the ways in which they can be manipulated.

George Orwell coined the term "Big Brother" in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

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I, Claudius is a historical novel by English writer Robert Graves, published in 1934. Written in the form of an autobiography of the Roman Emperor Claudius, it tells the history of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and the early years of the Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar's assassination in 44 BC to Caligula's assassination in AD 41. Though the narrative is largely fictionalized, most of the events depicted are drawn from historical accounts of the same time period by the Roman historians Suetonius and Tacitus.

Robert Graves' novel "I, Claudius" provides a fictionalized account of the Roman emperor Claudius' life.

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To the Lighthouse is a 1927 novel by Virginia Woolf. The novel centres on the Ramsay family and their visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland between 1910 and 1920.

Virginia Woolf's novel "To the Lighthouse" is considered a pioneering work of stream-of-consciousness writing.

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An American Tragedy is a 1925 novel by American writer Theodore Dreiser. He began the manuscript in the summer of 1920, but a year later abandoned most of that text. It was based on the notorious murder of Grace Brown in 1906 and the trial of her lover, Chester Gillette. In 1923 Dreiser returned to the project, and with the help of his future wife Helen and two editor-secretaries, Louise Campbell and Sally Kusell, he completed the massive novel in 1925. The book entered the public domain in the United States on January 1, 2021.

The novel was inspired by a real-life murder case that captivated America in 1906.

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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940) is the debut novel by the American author Carson McCullers; she was 23 at the time of publication. It is about a deaf man named John Singer and the people he encounters in a 1930s mill town in the US state of Georgia.

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter is a classic Southern Gothic novel exploring loneliness and isolation.

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Slaughterhouse-Five, or, The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death is a 1969 semi-autobiographic science fiction-infused anti-war novel by Kurt Vonnegut. It follows the life and experiences of Billy Pilgrim, from his early years, to his time as an American soldier and chaplain's assistant during World War II, to the post-war years, with Billy occasionally traveling through time. The text centers on Billy's capture by the German Army and his survival of the Allied firebombing of Dresden as a prisoner of war, an experience which Vonnegut himself lived through as an American serviceman. The work has been called an example of "unmatched moral clarity" and "one of the most enduring anti-war novels of all time".

Slaughterhouse-Five is a semi-autobiographical novel based on Vonnegut's experiences during the bombing of Dresden.

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Invisible Man is Ralph Ellison's first novel, published by Random House in 1952. It addresses many of the social and intellectual issues faced by African Americans in the early 20th century, including black nationalism, the relationship between black identity and Marxism, and the reformist racial policies of Booker T. Washington, as well as issues of individuality and personal identity.

Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man explores themes of racial identity and social invisibility in America.

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Native Son (1940) is a novel written by the American author Richard Wright. It tells the story of 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, a black youth living in utter poverty in a poor area on Chicago's South Side in the 1930s.

Richard Wright's "Native Son" is considered a groundbreaking novel in African American literature.

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Henderson the Rain King is a 1959 novel by Saul Bellow. The book's blend of philosophical discourse and comic adventure has helped make it one of his more popular works.

Saul Bellow's novel "Henderson The Rain King" explores themes of self-discovery and spiritual awakening.

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Appointment in Samarra, published in 1934, is the first novel by American writer John O'Hara (1905–1970). It concerns the self-destruction of the fictional character Julian English, a wealthy car dealer who was once a member of the social elite of Gibbsville. The book created controversy due to O'Hara's inclusion of sexual content.

The title of the book is based on an ancient Mesopotamian tale about a man trying to avoid death.

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The U.S.A. trilogy is a series of three novels by American writer John Dos Passos, comprising the novels The 42nd Parallel (1930), Nineteen Nineteen (1932) and The Big Money (1936). The books were first published together in a volume titled U.S.A. by Modern Library in 1937.

John Dos Passos' U.S.A. Trilogy offers a unique and powerful depiction of American life in the early 20th century.

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Winesburg, Ohio is a 1919 short story cycle by the American author Sherwood Anderson. The work is structured around the life of protagonist George Willard, from the time he was a child to his growing independence and ultimate abandonment of Winesburg as a young man. It is set in the fictional town of Winesburg, Ohio, which is loosely based on Anderson's childhood memories of Clyde, Ohio.

Winesburg, Ohio is a collection of interconnected short stories exploring the lives of small-town residents.

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A Passage to India is a 1924 novel by English author E. M. Forster set against the backdrop of the British Raj and the Indian independence movement in the 1920s. It was selected as one of the 100 great works of 20th century English literature by the Modern Library and won the 1924 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. Time magazine included the novel in its "All Time 100 Novels" list. The novel is based on Forster's experiences in India, deriving the title from Walt Whitman's 1870 poem "Passage to India" in Leaves of Grass.

E. M. Forster's novel explores the complexities of British colonialism in India during the 1920s.

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The Wings of the Dove is a 1902 novel by Henry James. It tells the story of Milly Theale, an American heiress stricken with a serious disease, and her effect on the people around her. Some of these people befriend Milly with honourable motives, while others are more self-interested.

The novel explores the complexities of love, money, and social class in 19th century Europe.

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The Ambassadors is a 1903 novel by Henry James, originally published as a serial in the North American Review (NAR). The novel is a dark comedy which follows the trip of protagonist Lewis Lambert Strether to Europe to bring the son of his widowed fiancée back to the family business. The novel is written in the third-person narrative from Strether's point of view.

Henry James wrote "The Ambassadors" in a style known as psychological realism, delving into characters' inner thoughts.

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Tender Is the Night is the fourth and final novel completed by American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. Set in French Riviera during the twilight of the Jazz Age, the 1934 novel chronicles the rise and fall of Dick Diver, a promising young psychiatrist, and his wife, Nicole, who is one of his patients. The story mirrors events in the lives of the author and his wife Zelda Fitzgerald as Dick starts his descent into alcoholism and Nicole struggles with mental illness.

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote "Tender is the Night" while living in the South of France.

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Studs Lonigan is a novel trilogy by American author James T. Farrell: Young Lonigan (1932), The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan (1934), and Judgment Day (1935). In 1998, the Modern Library ranked the Studs Lonigan trilogy 29th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

Studs Lonigan is a trilogy of novels that follows the life of a working-class Irish-American in Chicago.

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The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion is a 1915 novel by the British writer Ford Madox Ford. It is set just before World War I, and chronicles the tragedy of Edward Ashburnham and his seemingly perfect marriage, along with that of his two American friends. The novel is told using a series of flashbacks in non-chronological order, a literary technique that formed part of Ford's pioneering view of literary impressionism. Ford employs the device of the unreliable narrator to great effect, as the main character gradually reveals a version of events that is quite different from what the introduction leads the reader to believe. The novel was loosely based on two incidents of adultery and on Ford's messy personal life, specifically “the agonies Ford went through with his wife and his mistress in the six preceding years."

The Good Soldier is a groundbreaking novel that uses unreliable narration to explore themes of betrayal.

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Animal Farm is the most famous by far of all twentieth-century political allegories. Its account of a group of barnyard animals who revolt against their vicious human master, only to submit to a tyranny erected by their own kind, can fairly be said to have become a universal drama.

George Orwell's "Animal Farm" is a satirical allegory that critiques the Soviet Union under Stalin.

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The Golden Bowl is a 1904 novel by Henry James. Set in England, this complex, intense study of marriage and adultery completes what some critics have called the "major phase" of James's career. The Golden Bowl explores the tangle of interrelationships between a father and daughter and their respective spouses. The novel focuses deeply and almost exclusively on the consciousness of the central characters, with sometimes obsessive detail but also with powerful insight.

Henry James' novel "The Golden Bowl" explores themes of marriage, infidelity, and social class dynamics.

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Sister Carrie (1900) is a novel by Theodore Dreiser (1871–1945) about a young woman who moves to the big city where she starts realizing her own American Dream. She first becomes a mistress to men that she perceives as superior, but later becomes a famous actress. It has been called the "greatest of all American urban novels".

Theodore Dreiser's "Sister Carrie" is considered a groundbreaking work in American naturalism literature.

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A Handful of Dust is a novel by the British writer Evelyn Waugh. First published in 1934, it is often grouped with the author's early, satirical comic novels for which he became famous in the pre–World War II years. Commentators have, however, drawn attention to its serious undertones, and have regarded it as a transitional work pointing towards Waugh's Catholic postwar fiction.

Evelyn Waugh's novel "A Handful of Dust" is a satirical portrayal of British society in the 1930s.

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As I Lay Dying is a 1930 Southern Gothic novel by American author William Faulkner. Faulkner's fifth novel, it is consistently ranked among the best novels of the 20th century. The title is derived from William Marris's 1925 translation of Homer's Odyssey, referring to the similar themes of both works.

William Faulkner's novel As I Lay Dying is told from 15 different perspectives.

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All the King's Men is a 1946 novel by Robert Penn Warren. The novel tells the story of charismatic populist governor Willie Stark and his political machinations in the Depression-era Deep South. It was inspired by the real-life story of U.S. Senator Huey P. Long, who was assassinated in 1935. Its title is drawn from the nursery rhyme "Humpty Dumpty."

Robert Penn Warren's novel "All the King's Men" is loosely based on the life of Louisiana governor Huey Long.

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The Bridge of San Luis Rey is American author Thornton Wilder's second novel. It was first published in 1927 to worldwide acclaim. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928, and was the best-selling work of fiction that year.

Thornton Wilder's novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1928.

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Howards End is a novel by E. M. Forster, first published in 1910, about social conventions, codes of conduct and relationships in turn-of-the-century England. Howards End is considered by many to be Forster's masterpiece. The book was conceived in June 1908 and worked on throughout the following year; it was completed in July 1910.

E. M. Forster's novel "Howards End" explores the themes of class struggle and social change.

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Go Tell It on the Mountain is a 1953 semi-autobiographical novel by James Baldwin. It tells the story of John Grimes, an intelligent teenager in 1930s Harlem, and his relationship with his family and his church. The novel also reveals the back stories of John's mother, his biological father, and his violent, fanatically religious stepfather, Gabriel Grimes. The novel focuses on the role of the Pentecostal Church in the lives of African Americans, both as a negative source of repression and moral hypocrisy and a positive source of inspiration and community. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Go Tell It on the Mountain 39th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Time magazine included the novel on its list of the 100 best English-language novels released from 1923 to 2005.

James Baldwin's novel "Go Tell it on the Mountain" explores themes of race, religion, and identity.

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The Heart of the Matter (1948) is a novel by English author Graham Greene. The book details a life-changing moral crisis for Henry Scobie. Greene, a former British intelligence officer in Freetown, British Sierra Leone, drew on his experience there. Although Freetown is not mentioned in the novel, Greene confirms the location in his 1980 memoir, Ways of Escape.

Graham Greene's novel "The Heart of the Matter" is set in colonial Africa during World War II.

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Lord of the Flies is a 1954 novel by the Nobel laureate British author William Golding. The plot concerns a group of British boys who are stranded on an uninhabited island and their disastrous attempts to govern themselves. Themes include the tension between groupthink and individuality, rational and emotional reactions, and morality and immorality.

William Golding's "Lord of the Flies" explores the dark side of human nature through a group of boys stranded on an island.

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Deliverance (1970) is the debut novel of American writer James Dickey, who had previously published poetry. It was adapted into the 1972 film of the same name directed by John Boorman.

The novel "Deliverance" by James Dickey was adapted into a popular film in 1972.

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A Dance to the Music of Time is a 12-volume roman-fleuve by English writer Anthony Powell, published between 1951 and 1975 to critical acclaim. The story is an often comic examination of movements and manners, power and passivity in English political, cultural and military life in the mid-20th century. The books were inspired by the painting of the same name by French artist Nicolas Poussin.

Read A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell to experience a captivating portrayal of English society from the 1920s to the 1970s.

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Point Counter Point is a novel by Aldous Huxley, first published in 1928. It is Huxley's longest novel, and was notably more complex and serious than his earlier fiction.

Aldous Huxley's novel "Point Counter Point" offers a satirical exploration of the complexities of human relationships.

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The Sun Also Rises is the first novel by the American writer Ernest Hemingway. It portrays American and British expatriates who travel along the Camino de Santiago from Paris to the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona and watch the running of the bulls and the bullfights. An early modernist novel, it received mixed reviews upon publication. Hemingway biographer Jeffrey Meyers writes that it is now "recognized as Hemingway's greatest work" and Hemingway scholar Linda Wagner-Martin calls it his most important novel. The novel was published in the United States in October 1926 by Scribner's. A year later, Jonathan Cape published the novel in London under the title Fiesta. It remains in print.

Hemingway's novel is based on his own experiences in Paris and Pamplona during the 1920s.

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The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale is a novel by Joseph Conrad, first published in 1907. The story is set in London in 1886 and deals with Mr. Adolf Verloc and his work as a spy for an unnamed country. The Secret Agent is one of Conrad's later political novels in which he moved away from his former tales of seafaring. The novel is dedicated to H. G. Wells and deals broadly with anarchism, espionage, and terrorism. It also deals with exploitation of the vulnerable in Verloc's relationship with his brother-in-law Stevie, who has an intellectual disability. Conrad’s gloomy portrait of London depicted in the novel was influenced by Charles Dickens’ Bleak House.

Joseph Conrad's novel "The Secret Agent" is based on a real-life attempted bombing in London.

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Nostromo: A Tale of the Seaboard is a 1904 novel by Joseph Conrad, set in the fictitious South American republic of "Costaguana". It was originally published serially in monthly instalments of T.P.'s Weekly.

Nostromo is a gripping tale of political intrigue and betrayal set in a fictional South American country.

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Sons and Lovers is a 1913 novel by the English writer D. H. Lawrence. It traces emotional conflicts through the protagonist, Paul Morel, and his suffocating relationships with a demanding mother and two very different lovers, which exert complex influences on the development of his manhood. The novel was originally published by Gerald Duckworth and Company Ltd., London, and Mitchell Kennerley Publishers, New York. While the novel initially received a lukewarm critical reception, along with allegations of obscenity, it is today regarded as a masterpiece by many critics and is often regarded as Lawrence's finest achievement. It tells us more about Lawrence's life and his phases, as his first was when he lost his mother in 1910 to whom he was particularly attached. And it was from then that he met Frieda Richthofen, and around this time that he began conceiving his two other great novels, The Rainbow and Women in Love, which had more sexual emphasis and maturity.

D. H. Lawrence's semi-autobiographical novel explores the complexities of family relationships and societal expectations.

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Sons and Lovers is a 1913 novel by the English writer D. H. Lawrence. It traces emotional conflicts through the protagonist, Paul Morel, and his suffocating relationships with a demanding mother and two very different lovers, which exert complex influences on the development of his manhood. The novel was originally published by Gerald Duckworth and Company Ltd., London, and Mitchell Kennerley Publishers, New York. While the novel initially received a lukewarm critical reception, along with allegations of obscenity, it is today regarded as a masterpiece by many critics and is often regarded as Lawrence's finest achievement. It tells us more about Lawrence's life and his phases, as his first was when he lost his mother in 1910 to whom he was particularly attached. And it was from then that he met Frieda Richthofen, and around this time that he began conceiving his two other great novels, The Rainbow and Women in Love, which had more sexual emphasis and maturity.

D. H. Lawrence's semi-autobiographical novel explores the complexities of family relationships and societal expectations.

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Tropic of Cancer is an autobiographical novel by Henry Miller that is best known as "notorious for its candid sexuality", with the resulting social controversy considered responsible for the "free speech that we now take for granted in literature." It was first published in 1934 by the Obelisk Press in Paris, France, but this edition was banned in the United States. Its publication in 1961 in the United States by Grove Press led to obscenity trials that tested American laws on pornography in the early 1960s. In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the book non-obscene. It is regarded as an important work of 20th-century literature.

Henry Miller's controversial novel Tropic of Cancer was banned in the United States until 1961.

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The Naked and the Dead is a novel written by Norman Mailer. Published by Rinehart & Company in 1948, when he was 25, it was his debut novel. It depicts the experiences of a platoon during World War II, based partially on Mailer's experiences as a cook with the 112th Cavalry Regiment during the Philippines Campaign in World War II. The book quickly became a bestseller, paving the way for other Mailer's works such as The Deer Park, Advertisements for Myself, and The Time of Our Time. He believed The Naked and the Dead to be his most renowned work. It was the first popular novel about the war and is considered one of the greatest English-language novels. It was adapted into a film in 1958.

Norman Mailer's novel The Naked and the Dead is considered one of the greatest war novels of all time.

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Portnoy's Complaint is a 1969 American novel by Philip Roth. Its success turned Roth into a major celebrity, sparking a storm of controversy over its explicit and candid treatment of sexuality, including detailed depictions of masturbation using various props including a piece of liver. The novel tells the humorous monologue of "a lust-ridden, mother-addicted young Jewish bachelor," who confesses to his psychoanalyst in "intimate, shameful detail, and coarse, abusive language."

Portnoy's Complaint is a controversial and humorous novel exploring themes of Jewish identity and psychoanalysis.

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Pale Fire is a 1962 novel by Vladimir Nabokov. The novel is presented as a 999-line poem titled "Pale Fire", written by the fictional poet John Shade, with a foreword, lengthy commentary and index written by Shade's neighbor and academic colleague, Charles Kinbote. Together these elements form a narrative in which both fictional authors are central characters. Nabokov wrote Pale Fire in 1960–61, after the success of Lolita had made him financially independent, allowing him to retire from teaching and return to Europe. It was commenced in Nice and completed in Montreux, Switzerland.

The novel is structured as a poem with commentary, creating a unique reading experience.

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Light in August is a 1932 novel by the Southern American author William Faulkner. It belongs to the Southern gothic and modernist literary genres.

William Faulkner's "Light in August" explores themes of race, identity, and Southern culture in the 1930s.

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On the Road is a 1957 novel by American writer Jack Kerouac, based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends across the United States. It is considered a defining work of the postwar Beat and Counterculture generations, with its protagonists living life against a backdrop of jazz, poetry, and drug use. The novel is a roman à clef, with many key figures of the Beat movement, such as William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Neal Cassady represented by characters in the book, including Kerouac, himself, as the narrator, Sal Paradise.

Jack Kerouac wrote "On the Road" in just three weeks on a continuous scroll of paper.

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The Maltese Falcon is a 1930 detective novel by American writer Dashiell Hammett, originally serialized in the magazine Black Mask beginning with the September 1929 issue. The story is told entirely in external third-person narrative; there is no description whatsoever of any character's thoughts or feelings, only what they say and do, and how they look. The novel has been adapted several times for the cinema.

Dashiell Hammett's iconic novel, The Maltese Falcon, is considered one of the greatest detective novels ever written.

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Parade's End is a tetralogy of novels by the British novelist and poet Ford Madox Ford, written from 1924 to 1928. The novels chronicle the life of a member of the English gentry before, during and after World War I. The setting is mainly England and the Western Front of the First World War, in which Ford had served as an officer in the Welch Regiment, a life he vividly depicts. The individual novels are Some Do Not ... (1924), No More Parades (1925), A Man Could Stand Up — (1926) and Last Post (1928).

Ford Madox Ford's novel "Parade's End" is considered a modernist masterpiece set during World War I.

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The Age of Innocence is a 1920 novel by American author Edith Wharton. It was her eighth novel, and was initially serialized in 1920 in four parts, in the magazine Pictorial Review. Later that year, it was released as a book by D. Appleton & Company. It won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, making Wharton the first woman to win the prize. Though the committee had initially agreed to give the award to Sinclair Lewis for Main Street, the judges, in rejecting his book on political grounds, "established Wharton as the American 'First Lady of Letters'". The story is set in the 1870s, in upper-class, "Gilded Age" New York City. Wharton wrote the book in her 50s, after she was already established as a major author in high demand by publishers.

Edith Wharton was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1921.

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Zuleika Dobson, full title Zuleika Dobson, or, an Oxford love story, is the only novel by English essayist Max Beerbohm, a satire of undergraduate life at Oxford published in 1911. It includes the famous line "Death cancels all engagements" and presents a corrosive view of Edwardian Oxford.

Max Beerbohm's "Zuleika Dobson" is a satirical novel set in Oxford, poking fun at university life.

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The Moviegoer is the debut novel by Walker Percy, first published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf in 1961. It won the U.S. National Book Award. Time included the novel in its "Time 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005". In 1998, the Modern Library ranked The Moviegoer sixtieth on its list of the hundred best English-language novels of the twentieth century. It is published in the UK by Methuen.

The Moviegoer won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1962.

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Death Comes for the Archbishop is a 1927 novel by American author Willa Cather. It concerns the attempts of a Catholic bishop and a priest to establish a diocese in New Mexico Territory.

Willa Cather's novel vividly captures the beauty and challenges of missionary work in the Southwest.

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From Here to Eternity is the debut novel of American author James Jones, published by Scribner's in 1951. Set in 1941, the novel focuses on several members of a U.S. Army infantry company stationed in Hawaii in the months leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The novel is based on the author's own experiences as a soldier during World War II.

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The Wapshot Chronicle is the debut novel by American author John Cheever about an eccentric family that lives in a Massachusetts fishing village. Published in 1957, it won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1958, and was followed by a sequel, The Wapshot Scandal, published in 1964.

John Cheever's novel The Wapshot Chronicle offers a satirical look at small-town New England life.

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The Catcher in the Rye is a novel by American author J. D. Salinger that was partially published in serial form 1945–46 before being novelized in 1951. Originally intended for adults, it is often read by adolescents for its themes of angst and alienation, and as a critique of superficiality in society. The novel also deals with themes of innocence, identity, belonging, loss, connection, sex, and depression. The main character, Holden Caulfield, has become an icon for teenage rebellion. Caulfield, nearly of age, gives his opinion on a wide variety of topics as he narrates his recent life events.

Salinger's iconic novel explores themes of adolescence, identity, and rebellion in 1950s America.

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A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian satirical black comedy novella by English writer Anthony Burgess, published in 1962. It is set in a near-future society that has a youth subculture of extreme violence. The teenage protagonist, Alex, narrates his violent exploits and his experiences with state authorities intent on reforming him. The book is partially written in a Russian-influenced argot called "Nadsat", which takes its name from the Russian suffix that is equivalent to '-teen' in English. According to Burgess, the novel was a jeu d'esprit written in just three weeks.

The title of the book comes from an old Cockney phrase meaning "as queer as a clockwork orange.

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Of Human Bondage is a 1915 novel by W. Somerset Maugham. The novel is generally agreed to be Maugham's masterpiece and to be strongly autobiographical in nature, although he stated, "This is a novel, not an autobiography; though much in it is autobiographical, more is pure invention." Maugham, who had originally planned to call his novel Beauty from Ashes, finally settled on a title taken from a section of Spinoza's Ethics. The Modern Library ranked Of Human Bondage No. 66 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

Maugham's semi-autobiographical novel explores themes of love, art, and the search for meaning.

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Heart of Darkness (1899) is a novella by Polish-English novelist Joseph Conrad in which the sailor Charles Marlow tells his listeners the story of his assignment as steamer captain for a Belgian company in the African interior. The novel is widely regarded as a critique of European colonial rule in Africa, whilst also examining the themes of power dynamics and morality. Although Conrad does not name the river on which most of the narrative takes place, at the time of writing, the Congo Free State — the location of the large and economically important Congo River — was a private colony of Belgium's King Leopold II. Marlow is given a text by Kurtz, an ivory trader working on a trading station far up the river, who has "gone native" and is the object of Marlow's expedition.

The novella inspired the movie "Apocalypse Now," directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

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Main Street is a satirical novel written by Sinclair Lewis, and published in 1920.

Main Street is based on the real town of Sauk Centre, Minnesota, where Sinclair Lewis grew up.

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The House of Mirth is a 1905 novel by American author Edith Wharton. It tells the story of Lily Bart, a well-born but impoverished woman belonging to New York City's high society around the end of the 19th century. The House of Mirth traces Lily's slow two-year social descent from privilege to a lonely existence on the margins of society. In the words of one scholar, Wharton uses Lily as an attack on "an irresponsible, grasping and morally corrupt upper class."

Edith Wharton's novel The House of Mirth offers a scathing critique of high society.

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The Alexandria Quartet is a tetralogy of novels by British writer Lawrence Durrell, published between 1957 and 1960. A critical and commercial success, the first three books present three perspectives on a single set of events and characters in Alexandria, Egypt, before and during the Second World War. The fourth book is set six years later.

The Alexandria Quartet offers a captivating portrayal of love, betrayal, and political intrigue in Egypt.

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A High Wind in Jamaica is a 1929 novel by the Welsh writer Richard Hughes, which was made into a film of the same name in 1965. Hughes' first novel, it was set in the late nineteenth century and followed a group of children captured by pirates on a voyage from Jamaica. A critical success as well as a bestseller on its first publication in Britain, it was awarded the Prix Femina Vie-Heureuse in 1932.

The novel explores the dark and complex nature of childhood innocence in the Caribbean.

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A House for Mr Biswas is a 1961 novel by V. S. Naipaul, significant as Naipaul's first work to achieve acclaim worldwide. It is the story of Mohun Biswas, a Hindu Indo-Trinidadian who continually strives for success and mostly fails, who marries into the influential Tulsi family only to find himself dominated by it, and who finally sets the goal of owning his own house. It relies on some biographical elements from the experience of the author's father, and views a colonial world sharply with postcolonial perspectives.

V. S. Naipaul's novel "A House for Mr. Biswas" is inspired by the author's own family history.

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The Day of the Locust is a 1939 novel by American author Nathanael West set in Hollywood, California. The novel follows a young artist from the Yale School of Fine Arts named Tod Hackett, who has been hired by a Hollywood studio to do scene design and painting. While he works he plans an important painting to be called "The Burning of Los Angeles", a portrayal of the chaotic and fiery holocaust which will destroy the city. While the cast of characters Tod befriends are a conglomerate of Hollywood stereotypes, his greater discovery is a part of society whose "eyes filled with hatred", and "had come to California to die". This undercurrent of society captures the despair of Americans who worked and saved their entire lives only to realize, too late, that the American dream was more elusive than they imagine. Their anger boils into rage, and the craze over the latest Hollywood premiere erupts violently into mob rule and absolute chaos.

The Day of the Locust offers a dark and satirical portrayal of Hollywood's underbelly in the 1930s.

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A Farewell to Arms is a semi-autobiographical novel written by Ernest Hemingway concerning events during the Italian campaigns during the First World War. The book, which was first published in 1929, is a first-person account of American Frederic Henry, serving as a Lieutenant ("Tenente") in the ambulance corps of the Italian Army. The title is taken from a poem by 16th-century English dramatist George Peele.

Ernest Hemingway based the novel "A Farewell to Arms" on his own experiences as an ambulance driver in World War I.

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Scoop is a 1938 novel by the English writer Evelyn Waugh. It is a satire of sensationalist journalism and foreign correspondents.

Evelyn Waugh's "Scoop" offers a satirical look at journalism and the absurdity of war reporting.

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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie can refer to:The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (novel), a 1961 novel by Muriel Spark The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, a 1966 stage play based on the novel, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Olivia Hussey, which later transferred to Broadway starring Zoe Caldwell The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (film), a 1969 film based on the novel, starring Maggie Smith The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie , a 1978 TV series based on the novel, starring Geraldine McEwan

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was adapted into a successful film starring Maggie Smith.

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Finnegans Wake is a novel by Irish writer James Joyce. It is known for its experimental style and its reputation as one of the most difficult works of fiction in the Western canon. Written over a period of seventeen years and published in 1939, the novel was Joyce's final work. It is written in a largely idiosyncratic language that blends standard English with neologisms, portmanteau words, Irish mannerisms, and puns in multiple languages. It has been categorized as "a work of fiction which combines a body of fables [...] with the work of analysis and deconstruction"; many critics believe the technique was Joyce's attempt to recreate the experience of dreams and hypnagogia, reproducing the way in which concepts, memories, people, and places become amalgamated in dreaming. It has also been regarded as an attempt by Joyce to combine many of his prior aesthetic ideas, with references to other works and outside ideas woven into the text. Although critics have described it as unintelligible, Joyce asserted that every syllable could be justified. Due to its linguistic experiments, stream of consciousness writing style, literary allusions, free dream associations, and abandonment of narrative conventions, Finnegans Wake remains largely unread by the general public.

Finnegans Wake is known for its complex wordplay and stream-of-consciousness style, challenging readers.

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Kim is a novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author Rudyard Kipling. It was first published serially in McClure's Magazine from December 1900 to October 1901 as well as in Cassell's Magazine from January to November 1901, and first published in book form by Macmillan & Co. Ltd in October 1901. The novel is notable for its detailed portrait of the people, culture, and varied religions of India. "The book presents a vivid picture of India, its teeming populations, religions, and superstitions, and the life of the bazaars and the road." The story unfolds against the backdrop of the Great Game, the political conflict between Russia and Britain in Central Asia. The novel popularized the phrase and idea of the Great Game.

Rudyard Kipling spent several years in India, which heavily influenced his writing in "Kim.

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A Room with a View is a 1908 novel by English writer E. M. Forster, about a young woman in the restrained culture of Edwardian-era England. Set in Italy and England, the story is both a romance and a humorous critique of English society at the beginning of the 20th century. Merchant Ivory produced an award-winning film adaptation in 1985.

The novel explores themes of love, class, and societal expectations in Edwardian-era Italy.

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Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder is a novel by the English writer Evelyn Waugh, first published in 1945. It follows, from the 1920s to the early 1940s, the life and romances of Charles Ryder, especially his friendship with the Flytes, a family of wealthy English Catholics who live in a palatial mansion, Brideshead Castle. Ryder has relationships with two of the Flytes: Sebastian and Julia. The novel explores themes including Catholicism and nostalgia for the age of English aristocracy. A well-received television adaptation of the novel was produced in an 11-part miniseries by Granada Television in 1981.

Evelyn Waugh's novel "Brideshead Revisited" explores themes of love, religion, and the decline of the British aristocracy.

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The Adventures of Augie March is a picaresque novel by Saul Bellow, published in 1953 by Viking Press. It features the eponymous Augie March, who grows up during the Great Depression, and it is an example of Bildungsroman, tracing the development of an individual through a series of encounters, occupations and relationships from boyhood to manhood.

Saul Bellow's novel The Adventures of Augie March won the National Book Award in 1954.

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Discover the captivating story of a man's journey through love, loss, and redemption in Angle of Repose.

Angle of Repose won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1972 and is a must-read classic.

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A Bend in the River is a 1979 novel by Nobel laureate V. S. Naipaul.

V. S. Naipaul's novel explores the impact of colonialism in post-independence Africa.

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The Death of the Heart is a 1938 novel by Elizabeth Bowen set in the interwar period. It is about a sixteen-year-old orphan, Portia Quayne, who moves to London to live with her half-brother Thomas and falls in love with Eddie, a friend of her sister-in-law.

Elizabeth Bowen's novel "The Death of the Heart" explores themes of love, betrayal, and loss.

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Lord Jim is a novel by Joseph Conrad originally published as a serial in Blackwood's Magazine from October 1899 to November 1900. An early and primary event in the story is the abandonment of a passenger ship in distress by its crew, including a young British seaman named Jim. He is publicly censured for this action and the novel follows his later attempts at coming to terms with himself and his past and seeking redemption and acceptance.

Joseph Conrad's novel "Lord Jim" explores themes of guilt, redemption, and the complexities of human nature.

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Ragtime is a novel by E. L. Doctorow, first published in 1975. The sweeping historical fiction occurs in the area of New York City between 1902 and 1912.

The novel blends historical figures with fictional characters to create a vivid portrayal of early 20th century America.

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The Old Wives' Tale is a novel by Arnold Bennett, first published in 1908. It deals with the lives of two very different sisters, Constance and Sophia Baines, following their stories from their youth, working in their mother's draper's shop, into old age. It covers a period of about 70 years from roughly 1840 to 1905, and is set in Burslem and Paris. It is generally regarded as one of Bennett's finest works.

The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett provides a vivid portrayal of life in Victorian England.

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The Call of the Wild is a short adventure novel by Jack London, published in 1903 and set in Yukon, Canada, during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, when strong sled dogs were in high demand. The central character of the novel is a dog named Buck. The story opens at a ranch in Santa Clara Valley, California, when Buck is stolen from his home and sold into service as a sled dog in Alaska. He becomes progressively more primitive and wild in the harsh environment, where he is forced to fight to survive and dominate other dogs. By the end, he sheds the veneer of civilization, and relies on primordial instinct and learned experience to emerge as a leader in the wild.

The Call of the Wild was inspired by Jack London's experiences during the Klondike Gold Rush.

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Loving is a 1945 novel by British writer Henry Green. Time included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. One of his most admired works, Loving describes life above and below stairs in an Irish country house during the Second World War. In the absence of their employers the Tennants, the servants enact their own battles and conflict amid rumours about the war in Europe; invading one another's provinces of authority to create an anarchic environment of self-seeking behaviour, pilfering, gossip and love.

Henry Green's "Loving" is a unique novel written entirely in dialogue, offering a fresh reading experience.

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Midnight's Children is a 1981 novel by Indian-British writer Salman Rushdie, published by Jonathan Cape with cover design by Bill Botten, about India's transition from British colonial rule to independence and partition. It is a postcolonial, postmodern and magical realist story told by its chief protagonist, Saleem Sinai, set in the context of historical events. The style of preserving history with fictional accounts is self-reflexive.

Midnight's Children is a magical realist novel that explores India's independence and partition history.

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Tobacco Road is a 1932 novel by Erskine Caldwell about a dysfunctional family of Georgia sharecroppers during the Great Depression. Although often portrayed as a work of social realism, the novel contains many elements of black comedy and sensationalism which made it a subject of controversy following its publication. It was dramatized for Broadway by Jack Kirkland in 1933 and ran for eight years. A 1941 film version, played mainly for laughs, was directed by John Ford, with many of the darker plot elements altered or removed.

Tobacco Road was adapted into a successful play, film, and even a country song.

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Ironweed is a 1983 novel by American author William Kennedy. Ironweed received the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and is the third book in Kennedy's Albany Cycle. It is included in the Western Canon of the critic Harold Bloom. The novel was adapted into a 1987 film of the same name.

William Kennedy's novel Ironweed is set in Albany, New York during the Great Depression.

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The Magus (1965) is a postmodern novel by British author John Fowles, telling the story of Nicholas Urfe, a young British graduate who is teaching English on a small Greek island. Urfe becomes embroiled in the psychological illusions of a master trickster, which become increasingly dark and serious. Considered an example of metafiction, it was the first novel written by Fowles but his second novel to be published. A revised edition was published in 1977.

The Magus by John Fowles is set on a Greek island and explores themes of reality and illusion.

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Wide Sargasso Sea is a 1966 novel by Dominican-British author Jean Rhys. The novel serves as a postcolonial and feminist prequel to Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre (1847), describing the background to Mr. Rochester's marriage from the point-of-view of his wife Antoinette Cosway, a Creole heiress. Antoinette Cosway is Rhys's version of Brontë's "madwoman in the attic". Antoinette's story is told from the time of her youth in Jamaica, to her unhappy marriage to an English gentleman, Mr. Rochester, who renames her Bertha, declares her mad, takes her to England, and isolates her from the rest of the world in his mansion. Wide Sargasso Sea explores the power of relationships between men and women and discusses the themes of race, Caribbean history, and assimilation as Antoinette is caught in a white, patriarchal society in which she fully belongs neither to Europe nor to Jamaica.

Jean Rhys's novel serves as a prequel to Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre," exploring the backstory of Bertha Mason.

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Under the Net is a 1954 novel by Iris Murdoch. It was Murdoch's first published novel. Set in London, it is the story of a struggling young writer, Jake Donaghue. Its mixture of the philosophical and the picaresque has made it one of Murdoch's most popular novels.

Iris Murdoch's novel "Under the Net" explores themes of love, friendship, and existentialism in post-war London.

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Sophie's Choice is a 1979 novel by American author William Styron. The author's last novel, it concerns the relationships among three people sharing a boarding house in Brooklyn: Stingo, a young aspiring writer from the South, Jewish scientist Nathan Landau, and his lover Sophie, a Polish-Catholic survivor of the German Nazi concentration camps, whom Stingo befriends.

William Styron's novel "Sophie's Choice" won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1980.

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The Sheltering Sky is a 1949 novel of alienation and existential despair by American writer and composer Paul Bowles.

The Sheltering Sky explores the themes of existentialism and cultural dislocation in post-World War II North Africa.

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The Postman Always Rings Twice is a 1934 crime novel by American writer James M. Cain. The novel was successful and notorious upon publication. It is considered one of the most outstanding crime novels of the 20th century. The novel's mix of sexuality and violence was startling in its time and caused it to be banned in Boston.

The Postman Always Rings Twice is a classic noir novel that has been adapted into multiple films.

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The Ginger Man is a novel, first published in Paris in 1955, by J. P. Donleavy. The story is set in Dublin, Ireland, in post-war 1947. Upon its publication, it was banned both in Ireland and the United States of America by reason of obscenity.

The Ginger Man" is a classic novel set in Dublin, Ireland, known for its witty and irreverent humor.

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The Magnificent Ambersons is a 1918 novel by Booth Tarkington, the second in his Growth trilogy after The Turmoil (1915) and before The Midlander. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Booth Tarkington's novel The Magnificent Ambersons won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1919.

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