The Best English-Language Fiction of the Twentieth Century
A Composite List and Ranking
by Brian Kunde


<- Joyce, James, 1882-1941.
         Full name: James Augustine Aloysius Joyce. Irish expatriot writer considered one of the most influential of the 20th century. His later works became increasingly inaccessible to readers even as they became increasingly celebrated. Not for younger readers.
  • <- Finnegans Wake. 1939.
             Joyce's final work, a quirky stream of consciousness experimental novel that abandons traditional structures and employs allusion and punning language to create an associational, dream-like narrative that ends at its own beginning. Notoriously difficult to read and even more difficult to finish, it has the deserved reputation of being one of the least-read of great novels. Endlessly fascinating to critics and scholars; otherwise, only masochists need apply. Adapted with inevitably uneven results under a multiplicity of titles to the stage, film, and music at varying dates by various enthusiasts, none of which would be sensible to enumerate.
  • <- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. 1916.
             Joyce's semi-autobiographical first novel, in which he appears in the guise of protagonist Stephen Dedalus. Dedalus is followed through his formative years in Catholic Ireland as he comes to question the conventions under which he was raised, and finally leaves to take up his avocation as a writer. The character reappears as a secondary character in Ulysses. Adapted to film in 1977.
  • <- Ulysses. 1922.
             A undramatic day in the life of Leopold Bloom, consciously modeled on and paralleling in various ways (often obscurely) Homer's epic poem The Odyssey. The Homeric parallels include Bloom (Odysseus), his wife Molly (Penelope), and Stephen Dedalus (Telemachus). Condemned as pornographic during its original serialization and subsequent book publication, it became a literary cause célèbre. Adapted to the stage in 1958, film in 1967 and 2004, and radio in 1982 and 1993.

Posted Nov. 16, 2009, and last updated May 14, 2013.
Please report any errors to the compiler.
Published by Fleabonnet Press.
The source list data is public domain.
Additional material © 1999-2013 by Brian Kunde.