Top 10 20th Century Novels



there were Wars there was technological advancement there was social upheaval and there were some seriously good reads cuz the only people that interests me the mad ones the ones were mad to live mad to talk desirous of everything at the same time the ones that never yawn I see a commonplace thing but burn burn burn like roman candles across the night welcome to watchmojo.com and today we're counting down our picks for the top 10 20th century novels – it's gone get em you for this list we've looked at all novels published between the years 1900 and 1999 and have ranked them according to their artistic merit importance popularity and ability to reflect the century in which they were written number 10 100 Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez especially in the last half of the 20th century writers theorists and critics became consumed with the idea that the novel as an art form was in decline or even dying I had the bad manners of believing that misspelled words language mistakes or errors in grammar were actually creative and whenever detected I would tear up the page and throw it into the trash basket but in 1967 future Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez published this masterpiece and put a stop to a lot of that pessimism in the process it sold more than 30 million copies throughout the world during the writers lifetime it put a spotlight on the Latin American genre known as magical realism telling the tale of seven generations of the buendía family in Colombia the novel is a story of inevitability arguably the greatest Latin American novel ever written the magic realist style subplot upon subplot build-up and brilliantly authentic environments make it a perfect starting point for today's reading list one of his biographers Gerald Martin described One Hundred Years of Solitude is quote the first novel in which Latin Americans recognize themselves that define them celebrated their passion their intensity their spirituality and superstition their grand propensity for failure number nine the Lord of the Rings j.r.r tolkien a wizard is never late Frodo Baggins nor is he earning he arrives precisely when he means still the forerunner of the contemporary fantasy genre JRR Tolkien's juggernaut of a novel is without a doubt a standout work within the era now what did you do try my hand at writing a Riddick stupendously long narrative when impresses readers most is the astonishing attention to detail that the author employs in order to make the realm of middle-earth seem as real as possible in the Lord of the Rings a band of colorful characters travels through a glorious and dangerous fantasy world in order to rid the land of a deadly evil one ring to rule them it's one ring to rule them all and one story to wow them number eight lolita vladimir nabokov what i want to produce is really that little sob in the spine of the artist reader well i leave the field of ideas still to doctor sure shiet center to doctor zhivago a massively controversial book lolita faced huge opposition when it first hit the bookstore shelves a story detailing the life of one Humbert Humbert and his dangerous infatuation with the underaged title character it's graphic presentation and arguable glorification of pedophilia had plenty of people up in arms cuz you don't care about me anymore anyway why do you think I don't care about will you haven't kissed me yet have you while critics often debate the predatory instincts of the characters Lolita opened up international dialogue on sexual abuse literary morals and the comedic wordplay of Nabokov Oh yank you out of busily as fast as it takes me to pack a suitcase unless this stops and that's what stops you know what I'm talking about the Russian authors novel survived its negative publicity however and Humbert found himself a seat at 20th century literature's top table whether you like it or not I'm saying thief and come live with me and die with me and everything crazy number seven a farewell to arms Ernest Hemingway Hemingway's driving philosophy was that he wanted to experience life to the fullest he wanted to do every adventure see every sight he's regarded as one of the finest American authors and a farewell to arms is considered the novel with which Ernest Hemingway came into his own have you ever loved anyone ah often I'm split into five books a farewell to arms is the first of his works to become a true bestseller as it follows the story of Frederick Henry an American serving as a lieutenant in the ambulance corps of the Italian Army during World War one I don't think this rain is going to last I hope not what I our Cabot does based largely on Hemingway's own experiences it is considered one of the finest accounts of one of the bloodiest points in human history I am ordered to leave by the gallery but do you have a bet on us from God to remain I salute your commanding officer a his placing go with you number six Ulysses James Joyce Kirk I I'll give you just three seconds for many James Joyce is the father of modernism and this is his masterpiece Ulysses reinvents Homer's Odyssey and moves the action to Dublin have mercy on Steven Lord for my sake an account of an ordinary day in the city for one Leopold Bloom the novel is controversially clever cleverly controversial a difficult text and a joy to read it is true it was my funeral how is that possible by metempsychosis oh rocks loaded with wordplay puns graphic scenes and stylistic strangeness it's an incredible defining literary achievement dr. bloom is by sexually abnormal traces of elephant ices have been discovered among his ascendance he is prematurely bald from self-abuse Ulysses is famous for its epic stream of consciousness and readers can't help but keep waiting into it he understands the tiny sins the tiny virtues the tiny finalities the tiny advantages that people would look for in life and nobody else ever did that before and nobody I would contend has done it as well since number 5 The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck everybody's gotta get off everybody's leaving going out to California here folks my folks everybody's folks everybody sent me the American Dream played out from within America itself this story of the Joad family's migration to California in search of a better life and prospects has enthralled readers for generations maybe maybe I'll give me a whole Ward cup full of grapes and just sit in a munch around you rounding them until they're all gone on the one hand it's a rich reliable historical source on the other it's the most provocative of page-turners no one got the Great Depression like John Steinbeck did and that knowledge helped him NAB 1962 s Nobel Prize in Literature I thank the Swedish Academy for finding my work worthy of this highest honor we might have included Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men on this list but the Pulitzer Prize winning The Grapes of Wrath wins out rich fellows come up died their kids ain't no good and they die out but we keep a-coming where the people live live I can't wipe us out that can't Lynx number four 1984 George Orwell what I most wanted was to turn political writing into an art released in 1949 the aim of this Orwell story was to second-guess the future and the English author wasn't too far off 30 to 40 group take your places please right let's see which one of us can touch his toes Winston lives in a society under constant surveillance in which it is almost impossible to act independently or even to think creatively Smith 6079 Smith W yes you bend lower while this dystopian sci-fi novel and its idea of Big Brother were undoubtedly frightening upon release 1984 might make even more uncomfortable reading for modern audiences the Spanish war turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood every line of serious work that I've written since 1936 has been written directly or indirectly against totalitarianism after all we spend more and more time in front of computer screens in technological culture we have almost every move recorded by CCTV sometimes life really does imitate art for better or worse a hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance in principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation number three The Catcher in the Rye JD Salinger when you're a kid and you read Catcher in the Rye you're just like oh my god somebody gets it another controversial creation The Catcher in the Rye was originally penned for an adult audience but it has since become an iconic tale for teenagers more than 60 million copies of his 1951 novel Catcher in the Rye have been sold read worshiped and studied and it made the central character Holden Caulfield better known than Salinger himself detailing the daily chewing and throwing of Holden Caulfield it's all about adolescent angst rebellion and dissipation though controversial thanks to themes of teen sexuality and its use of slang and cursing it's also one of the most relatable works ever written everybody grows up nobody's perfect few people are especially similar to this protagonist but we appreciate the variety of life by the time this novels last page has been turned number two to kill a mockingbird Harper Lee she did something that in our society is unspeakable she kissed her black knight the fight against racial discrimination was a prominent social issue throughout the 20th century and in no novel was it more perfectly captured than in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird I'll show you we used to we're never tell anybody I swear Kashia Hart a coming-of-age tale that everyone should read it lays our ideas of racial equality on the table challenges us to address them and urges us to reach the right conclusions they never really understand the person until you consider things from his point of view told by scout as a remembrance of her youth the story follows her father morally upright lawyer Atticus Finch as he defends an innocent black man against a rape charge our courts all created equal an exceptionally important book that one its author a Pulitzer Prize it's present on most high school reading lists and long may that be there's a lot of ugly things in this world son I wish I could keep more away from you that's never possible before we crack the spine on our top pick here are some honorable mentions these got the conch that's right favorite piggies you always do Jack Jack Jack the rules you're breaking the rules who cares because the rules are the only thing we bought follow-ups to the rules we're strongly huh sorry captain I know how that must feel I don't think so try not to talk hmm just think about nice things you got oh yeah you did it all right boy you can ride in with Jason you go make yourself later deal no she's not gonna be late we're gonna change dad right now come here what for put the cup down and get over you this is schlocko fifth tenth is English five slut is not a host is house slack Paulson slaughterhouse pie you're a wizard Harry I'm a lot a wizard and a thumpin good Ann I'd wager number one The Great Gatsby f scott Fitzgerald they say his third cousin to the Kaiser second cousin to the devil afraid I haven't been a very good host old school you see I'm guess there are few periods more iconic than 1920s America and no writer captured their exact essence in quite the same way as Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby is easily the Princetonian z' defining achievement the green light the yellow car the glittering highs and gut-wrenching lows you want too much I love you now isn't that enough I can't help what Pat I did love him one but I loved you too this is a novel that takes the most complex components of human life love and psychology and sensationally simplifies them he threw all those parties hoping she'd wander in one night he constantly asked about Daisy I was just the first person that knew her Gatsby is a story about the fleeting nature of the American dream with the enigmatic Jay Gatsby and his fixation with Daisy Buchanan at its center Gatsby when it came out did not get great reviews it got some good reviews but it was a slightly different story I mean there were deaths there was a murder these were not the things that scott Fitzgerald was supposed to write about though it only sold 20,000 copies in its first year the jury is now in Gatsby's great and his story is the greatest of its time they're rotten crowd you're worth the whole damn bunch put together do you agree with our list which 20th century novel did we forget for more page-turning top 10s published every day be sure to subscribe to watchmojo.com that is the end of the announcement good diagram time

45 thoughts on “Top 10 20th Century Novels

  1. Your title should be Top 10 20th Century American Novels. Where is Sartre? Where is Camus? Where is Gorky? Besides, neither Salinger nor Fitzgerald is considered as big writers in non english speaking countries

  2. I'm sure somebody has already pointed this out, but the 20th century started with the year 1901 and ended with the year 2000. It's because it ended in the year 2000 that, say, 1930 is in the 20th century, and not the 19th.

  3. Really these are the best novels? The title should be "Top 10 20th Century Novels in USA". No Japanese or Chinese novels at all? Or Francz Kafka? Or Kertész Imre: Fatelessness? And many more…

  4. On reflection this last is laughable. North American centric, ignores all the great European, UK, Irish and other writers. Even on Jack London it chooses not 'Martin Eden' 'John Barleycorn' 'The Iron Heel' that clearly inspired Orwell ass did "People of the Abyss' a better book than "Down and Out', Laughably ignorant list by foolishly ill read people. Peter L.

  5. A hundred years is way better than Gatsby, fine as that novel is. ,Lord of the R is total Bull. 1984 is so important it needs be higher for its warnings. As to the commentary Orwell was drawing on stuff already known out of the Soviet Union, Germany et al. So many I have known from Eastern and Central Europe have said to me: "How did he know?' Where is 'The Slave'; by Singer? Surely one of the greatest Love Story Novels of all time? I could go on but as a teenager I loved Cannery Row'' by Steinbeck dam admired "Grapes; as a coleuses. Poor and insufficient ending against its magnificent wholeness though. Where is 'The Third Policeman''? You illiterate Yanks? Or 'Zorba'? Best to all book lovers. Peter L.

  6. This is mising some great novels written in different languages than english.Here are some examples
    Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar
    Pedro Paramo by juan rulfo
    The dogs and the city by Mario Vargas Llosa
    Blindness by Jose Saramago
    The Stranger by albert Camus
    In search of lost time By Marcel Proust
    The name of the rose By Umberto Eco
    The autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

  7. Wish the books Gone With The Wind by Margret Mitchel and Dr. Zhivago were covered in this. I just do not remember who wrote Dr. Zhivago.

  8. The great gatsby deserves no.1 spot. Never have I read a book so laced with meaning and never has an author explained sensations that don’t have words in the English language.

  9. Lord of the rings is as much an roman as a Novel, Thats Why Its low On the list… Thats the only Way i see it, otherwise wtf?

  10. 1— The Trial
    2— Berlin Alexanderplatz
    3— In Search Of Lost Time
    4— Christ Stopped At Eboli
    5— Ulysses

  11. You just can't make lists like this. But one thing is for sure: when you read a great book, never ever watch a movie version because it will ruin the book. You use your imagination when reading. If you read a book though, and then watch the movie, you will only see the movie when you go back to the book. I learned this the hard way after watching the movie version of "The World According to Garp." The book was great the first time, but after seeing the movie I couldn't read the book again because all I could see was that inane idiot who played the lead character. Never destroy a book by watching the movie.

  12. So based on what you said, lolita is on here because it's controversial? 😂 that's so stupid especially if you're going to have that about so many classics that didn't even make the list

  13. The great gatsby number 1? Where the hell is the master and margarita by bulgakov? That novel is pure gold! Satan's coming to Moscow. What else?

  14. This is a list of what we are supposed to believe is the top 10, a collaboration of critics reviews. Also, the commentary is about the stories not the writing and shown by the movie adaptations. Not worth arguing about.

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