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 Containing the crazy
John Irving writes big books. Yes, long novels—longer than most contemporary works you find on the bestseller lists. But big in so many other ways. Big characters, big themes of the day, big and sprawling stories. And, most gloriously, he's got that knack of creating worlds.... more

missing graphic The puzzle that is Palliser
The problem with Charles Palliser as a famous novelist is that in every book he tries something radically different. He's the ultimate experimental writer, which makes him a bold and always interesting writer for those who appreciate such experiments but also makes it hard for him to develop a devoted fan base.... more

missing graphic Why don't more people love this novel?
For a few, Villette is Charlotte Brontë's big book—not just the longest of her four novels, but the most realistic, most interesting and most progressive. I fully understand this. There are times reading Villette I have to turn back to the title page to confirm that, yes, this really was written in the middle of the nineteenth century..... more

missing graphic Sister who blazed longest and hardest
Charlotte was the longest living of the three writing Brontë sisters, almost making it to age forty, and her output was by far the most extensive and most popular in its day. Yet many know her best as the sister of Emily Brontë, author of the revered Wuthering Heights, which she championed..... more

missing graphic Some get caught and some don't
Few novels divide readers as The Catcher in the Rye does. This may sound like a bizarre thing to say, since J.D. Salinger's novel has been wildly popular since it came out in 1951. It's been lauded as changing the course of post-Second World War writing—at least American writing—as much as.... more

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

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

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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


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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