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.

COMMENTARIES

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

Selected Authors
Biographies and commentaries on writers of great literature.

Translations
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.

LATEST COMMENTARIES

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

missing graphic Comedy light and dark
To appreciate Molière's comic genius you should probably see the plays performed. Reading them, you can get the idea they're lightweight, not much above the average episode of Three's Company, but with fewer jokes. You've got to see actors taking full advantage of the satiric.... more

missing graphic Where the dark comes from
You think you know Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness even if you haven't read it in years, or ever. It's been widely taught in school, so its most famous lines ring with musty familiarity. Its plot has been adapted for all manner of media, though usually in wildly divergent stories or in parody. It's part of modern.... more

See full list of Recent Commentaries

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CONTEST #30
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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
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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
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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:

Hamlet

Henry IV, Part 1

Julius Caesar

King Lear

Macbeth

Othello

The Merchant of
Venice

Romeo and Juliet

The Tempest

Now on Twitter
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ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

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:

Index
Commentaries on Selected Authors

Index
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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