The Greatest Books of All Time

The Top 10 book picked by 125 top scholars from the book "The Top 10" altered by J. Peder Zane.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina recounts the bound relationship between the exotic and insubordinate Anna and the running official, Count Vronsky. Disaster unfurls as Anna dismisses her aloof marriage and must endure the hypocrisies of society. Set against a vast and richly textured canvas of nineteenth-century Russia, the novel's seven major characters create a dynamic imbalance, playing out the contrasts of city and country life and all the variations on love and family happiness.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

For setting out to look into the core of an adulteress and count its substance with significant dispassion, tthe author of Madame Bovary was tried for "offenses against morality and religion." What shocks us today about Flaubert's devastatingly realized tale of a young woman destroyed by the reckless pursuit of her romantic dreams is its pure artistry: the poise of its narrative structure, the opulence of its prose (marvelously captured in the English translation of Francis Steegmuller), and its creation of a world whose minor figures are as vital as its doomed heroine.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Epic in scale, War and Peace portrays in realistic detail occasions paving the way to Napoleon's intrusion of Russia, and the effect of the Napoleonic period on Tsarist society, as observed through the eyes of families.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The epic annals a time that Fitzgerald himself named the "Jazz Age". Following the stun and disarray of World War I, American society enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity during the "roaring" 1920s as the economy soared. At the same time, Prohibition, the ban on the sale and manufacture of alcohol as mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment, made millionaires out of bootleggers and led to an increase in organized crime, for example the Jewish mafia.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

The book is globally celebrated for its creative style and notorious for its disputable subject: the hero and problematic storyteller, moderately aged Humbert, becomes obsessed and sexually involved with a twelve-year-old girl named Dolores Haze.