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 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

missing graphic Tess the too pure
When Tess of the D'Urbervilles first came out in book form in late 1891, it was in equal parts hailed as Thomas Hardy's masterpiece and condemned as a moral outrage. The latter opinion was due mainly to the novel's sympathetic treatment of the titular country girl who had sex—and a child—out of wedlock.... more

missing graphic The seriously sick artist
It's hard to take Edgar Allan Poe seriously as a literary figure. Not his fault. Poe took writing very seriously as an art form. His critical works show this. And his stories have proven tremendously influential in both the literary world and in popular culture. Ah, yes, but about the culture. All those.... more

missing graphic Star-crossed lovers live on, alas
Possibly Shakespeare's best-known play. Everyone knows the story of star-crossed lovers who defied their families—the feuding Capulets and Montagues—and ended their lives tragically. Romeo and Juliet is a play with something for everyone: romance, intrigue, sword-fighting, wonderful poetry, comedy and.... 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.

Other Greatest Lit Stuff
Editor Eric's frequently asked questions, picking a translation, Shakespeare's detractors, and more.

Contenders SF
Readers' recommendations for additions to the list of the greatest science fiction of all time.

Literary Links
Other great literature resources.

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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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