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View Diary: Books Go Boom!   100 Greatest Novels Lists (& the 5th best Russian Novel) (153 comments)

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  •  I only heard of 'Oronooko' last year, when I was (6+ / 0-)

    reading through the book 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. It says Aphra Behn was "probably Britain's first female professional author". The book has two particular virtues: it goes far beyond the 100 lists, so it achieves both a deeper and broader reach; and it also sets out, quite deliberately, to do this.

    There are 160 contributors to the book, so they were able to delve into many areas of fiction, with strong background knowledge of each seam they were drilling into. I excerpt a paragraph from the preface to the second edition, because it's so relevant to the issues I've raised in this diary:

    With the publication of this new, international edition, this debate can only become fiercer. The publication of this book poses some important and difficult questions, to add to those put by the first edition. Perhaps the most pressing of these relates to the question of the relationship between nationality and canon. What does it mean to have an "international" edition of this kind of book? In what ways would the book be different to a Czech audience, or a Spanish or German audience, than it would to an audience in the United States, or in the United Kingdom? Does a body of writing, a canon of essential texts, emerge from a national context, or does it in some way transcend nationality, rising above the contexts that generate it? What does it mean to try to respond to all these different national contexts at the same time?
    Even these 1001 books, chosen deliberately from countries all around the world (and, to a lesser extent, from every genre of fiction), cannot be the final word on the subject. But this mammoth list does succeed in opening a lot more doors than any other list I've seen.

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 10:16:42 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

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