What's the greatest literature ever?

Select any period or type of literature from the buttons on the side of this or any page to browse Editor Eric's list of the one thousand greatest-ever novels, stories, plays, poetry, and other works of creative literature. On the lists, see links to available commentaries on authors and works.


Selected Works
Commentaries on books in the greatest literature of all time.

Selected Authors
Biographies and commentaries on writers of great literature.

Finding the right translation of great works into English.

Movies for Book Lovers
Commentaries on films, TV and video based on the greatest literature.

Toronto Reads
Eric's reviews of recent literature from or about the world's most diverse city.


missing graphic Lost between the levels
Let's see. Margaret Atwood writes her Booker Prize-winning novel The Blind Assassin about an elderly woman writing her memoirs about her and her sister's lives, the younger sibling having written an infamous novel called The Blind Assassin, which recounts her trysts with a political fugitive who is writing.... more

missing graphic Love, the beautiful disease
Love in the Time of Cholera is a favourite novel for lovers who take from it something like "Love is forever" or "Love conquers all" or "Follow your heart and you'll eventually find your one great love." Yet, Gabriel García Márquez's story also appeals to cynics who find the yearning, love-obsessed protagonist, Florentino Ariza.... more

missing graphic Less sex than violence
It can be difficult to read Edward II today as a Christopher Marlow play. One keeps sliding into thinking of it as minor Shakespeare—you know, all those early plays with kings and numerals in their titles. Partly this is a matter of timing. We may appreciate Marlowe's own earlier plays, especially Tamburlaine and.... more

missing graphic Killing social evil with kindness
You could make a case that every Charles Dickens novel is atypical in some way, but Little Dorrit really is a special case. For one thing, it's been called his most political novel—the book that George Bernard Shaw said converted him to socialism and that other great figures considered an example of Christian writing.... more

missing graphic The writer to emulate—or to beat
Chances are, you think of Charles Dickens in one of two opposite ways. As the writer, the very icon of the great and popular author for the masses, against whose work all subsequent fiction is to be measured. Or as the epitome of an old-fashioned, wordy, sentimental style that had to be.... more

missing graphic The in-between romantic
Lord Jim is one of the Joseph Conrad novels that has me thinking at places "This may be the best writing I've ever read" and at other places "Come on, get on with it, would you!" Part of this ambivalence I put down to Conrad's position—along with a few other British and American writers like Thomas Hardy.... more

See full list of Recent Commentaries

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For Serial Readers:
Identify these literary series and win at least one of the books.

Current Contest

Test your literary knowledge by trying earlier quizzes

Previous Contest

Features of note
How the 1,000 choices were selected

Editor Eric's Criteria

The story of science fiction

What counts as SF?

Much of what you read in English was not written in English. Does it matter?

Finding the best translations

Much ado about Shakespeare
Shakespeare's eyes
What was he really about?

William Shakespeare

Was it Shakespeare who wrote Shakespeare's plays?

The controversy

What he wrote—and what really happened

The histories

Not all other writers think Shakespeare's the best

What they've said

The plays are the thing:


Henry IV, Part 1

Julius Caesar

King Lear



The Merchant of

Romeo and Juliet

The Tempest

Now on Twitter


Greatest Short Stories
List of the all-time greatest short works of fiction from around the world.

Greatest Canadian Literature
Eric's picks for the all-time greatest works from the land of the red, white and red.

Greatest Science Fiction of All Time
Eric's picks for the nearly two hundred greatest-ever works of the science fiction genre.

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Oliver Twist
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Related pages:

Commentaries on Selected Authors

Commentaries on Selected Works

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Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe
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Romeo and Juliet
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The Misanthrope and Other Plays
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The Odyssey
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On the Road
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The  Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales
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My Ántonia
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