Literary critics, historians, and even readers will have different opinions on which novel is really the “best book ever written.” Is it a novel with a beautiful and captivating figurative language? A novel that has had an immense social impact? Or one that has more subtly affected the world? Here is a list of 10 novels that, for various reasons, have been considered some of the best literary works. In addition, we added a link where you can buy the novels online.
1. ANNA KARENINA (LEO TOLSTOY)
Among the great writers of the 19th century, Lev Nicoláievich Tolstoy (1828-1910) has been described as “a unique genius, with no equivalent in any other country.” Appeared in its final version in 1877, Anna Karenina is the most ambitious and far-reaching work by the Russian writer, a novel of a realistic and psychological nature that describes Russian society of the time with great acuity.
Tolstoy’s deep moral crisis at the time when he conceived the novel led him to build this shocking story of adultery in which the main protagonist, Anna Karenina, is facing a tragic end as a result of conflict — psychological and social — which is growing from the first page.
2. ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE (GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ)
This classic from the 20th century is the enormous and splendid tapestry of an already mythical family in the mythical village of Macondo. The Buendía saga is an essential reference in the evolution of the Latin American narrative.
Millions of copies of One Hundred Years of Solitude read in all languages and the Nobel Prize for Literature crowning a work that demonstrates the fabulous adventure of the Buendía-Iguarán family, with its miracles, fantasies, obsessions, tragedies, incests, adulteries, rebellions, discoveries and convictions, it represented at the same time the myth and the history, the tragedy and the love of the whole world.
3. NINETEEN EIGHTY – FOUR (GEORGE ORWELL)
Disturbing futuristic interpretation based on a critique of totalitarianism and the oppression of power, set in 1984 in an English society dominated by a system of “bureaucratic collectivism” controlled by Big Brother.
London, 1984: Winston Smith decides to rebel against a totalitarian government that controls every movement of its citizens and punishes even those who commit crimes with thought. Aware of the dire consequences that dissent can bring, Winston joins the ambiguous Brotherhood through leader O’Brien.
4. JANE EYRE (CHARLOTTE BRONTË)
Marked by her early maternal orphanhood, the British writer Charlotte Brontë, who accumulated much mourning throughout her short life, reveals in her work the passionate desire to find a place in the world. Jane Eyre, the work that enshrined its withering success, has the ingredients of a Gothic novel, but far exceeds the conventions of the genre.
To the historical value – Charlotte Brontë achieves an enormously plastic picture of the British society of her time – moral and literary value are added here. Because, in effect, surpassing the traditional techniques of dialogues, a kind of “mental comment” opens in Jane Eyre the path that will lead to Virginia Woolf.
5. LES MISÉRABLES (VICTOR HUGO)
Les Misérables was published in 1862, when Victor Hugo was exiled in Belgium after the Napoleonic restoration of the Empire. And it could be considered that it is exile, the forced lack of belonging, one of the engines of the great novel of French romanticism: social and psychological exile governs the life of Jean Valjean, a “noble brute”, a good man who fights for those who, like him, are unfairly persecuted.
Situated between the Napoleonic wars and the bourgeois revolution of 1848, Les Misérables is, above all, an epic novel about the triumph of those who conserve their conscience intact in a world governed by poverty.
6. THE INGENIOUS GENTELMAN DON QUIXOTE OF LA MANCHA (MIGUEL DE CERVANTES)
The ingenious gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha narrates the adventures of Alonso Quijano, a poor gentleman who, after reading novels of chivalry, ends up going mad and believing himself to be a knight errant, naming himself Don Quixote of la Mancha.
His intentions are to help the poor and disadvantaged and achieve the love of the supposed Dulcinea del Toboso, who is actually a peasant named Aldonza Lorenzo. He decides to name Sancho Panza, an employee of his, his squire. Together they live many adventures and after being defeated by the Knight of the White Moon he retires to his home, where, after acquiring sanity again, he dies.
7. NORWEGIAN WOOD (HARUKI MURAKAMI)
A triangular love story that becomes the story of a sentimental education but also of the losses that all maturation implies. Toru Watanabe, a 37-year-old executive, casually listens as an old Beatles song lands at a European airport, and the music takes him back to his youth, to turbulent late 1960s Tokyo. Toru recalls, with a mixture of melancholy and restlessness, the unstable and mysterious Naoko, the girlfriend of his best – and only – a friend of adolescence, Kizuki.
With a fine sense of humour, Murakami has written the moving account of sentimental education, but also of the losses that all maturation implies. Norwegian Wood was the definitive recognition of the author in his country, where he became a best seller.
8. AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS (JULES VERNE)
Phileas Fogg, a phlegmatic Englishman, has bet his fortune that he will go around the world in 80 days, and will use all the means of transportation at his disposal: trains, ships, cars, and even an elephant and a sledge.
But this round the world trip, in which humour, adventure, heroism and the typical self-denial of the Vernian characters combine, reserves to the reader another surprise: the bet that Fogg makes him lose the police Fix will win him unthinkably Sun.
9. THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (OSCAR WILDE)
A cornerstone in the debates between ethics and aesthetics, in the relationships that maintain good and evil, soul and body, art and life.
When this work was published, the moralizing criticism did not stop accusing its protagonist of being a satanic, corrupted and corrupting figure, without understanding that he was the hero of a novel that reflected the fatality of the romantics: Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) he had wanted to make beauty a refinement of intelligence; and for this, he plunged its protagonist into an atmosphere of perversion dominated by art and the powers of a mystery that is beyond reality: thanks to the gods, the cult of beauty can transfer the traces of the passage of time to painting, while Dorian Gray’s face remains unchanged and unalterable.
10. FRANKENSTEIN (MARY SHELLEY)
The famous poets Lord Byron and Percy B. Shelley, together with their young lovers, indulged in a literary game that consisted of devising the scariest tale imaginable. None of those present managed to complete a good story… except the young lover of Shelley; That night she conceived a terrifying and wonderful story: Frankenstein.
Since its publication, it amazed the world and in a few years it acquired the category of “modern myth”. Straddling the Gothic novel and the philosophical tale, the history of the superb scientist and his monstrous creation has fascinated several generations of readers.
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