Thursday, November 29, 2007

Greatest English Novel?

I read once that Alessandro Manzoni's The Betrothed is considered the greatest novel in Italian literature*. That got me to thinking about the greatest novels in other languages: in Spanish it is Don Quixote, in Russian it is The Brothers Karamazov, what is it in English?

Since my husband is in a graduate school which has a large literature student population, I started asking around. Most of the people I have asked said Moby Dick, although a couple said Persuasion and one said Pride and Prejudice. (There were a couple other answers which I don't remember.) When I searched online to see if I could find lists of great literature Ulysses is what came out on top most often.

What do you think the greatest English novel is?

*If you haven't read it then you ought to because it really is one the greatest novels in existence (in my humble uneducated-in-literature opinion).


Mrs. Bear said...

I don't read a lot of novels these days, but I enjoyed reading this post and am waiting for Flannery to arrive at the party. :-)

clara said...

eww, definitely not pride and predjudice...

my current favorites are Jane Eyre, and The Mill on the Floss. (haven't read moby dick, though.)

Flannery said...

Good grief, the Mill on the Floss won the Biggest Raspberry Award ever. Moby Dick is awesome to think about in the years following having read it, but is much too tedious to be successful as a novel (which must be an enjoyable reading experience).

I'm not sure who would win. It's a lot easier to answer a question like this about books originally in a foreign language, as the pool of books to compare it to is going to be much smaller (therefore, it's easy to say that "The Brothers Karamazov" is the best Russian novel).