Friday, July 1, 2011

In my Head, the Homunculus Rubs His Cheek Upon A List.

One of the first things you learn when digging into the odd currency of Search Engine Optimization is that people are powerless when presented a list. The Five Best. . .the Ten Top. . . 12 Ways to. . . And so on.

What is it about a list that demands our attention?

Is it a sense of authority giving us closure on a subject? Perhaps it is the brevity with which one is confronted before reading it. We like lists for the same reason we like appetizers at Cheesecake Factory. Information without commitment. Short form reading for the masses.

I believe,though, that, as Children of the Information Age, this is not bad thing. A short attention span may actually be more useful to us as we approach the Singularity (as Ray Kurzweil would have you believe).

However, nothing can fully flesh out an idea or communicate so personally as a book. The long road helps you understand in a deeper and more humanly way.

So, Man is Men would like to use both long and short form vehicles of writing to their best ability by live-blogging the Le Monde 100 Books of the Century! The Twentieth Century, that is.

Why? For fun, of course! No, but, why the Le Monde 100? That sounds fairly pretentious, doesn't it? Possibly, but the books on the list seem so interesting to me. I haven't read most of them and the books don't include the usual suspects like Pride and Prejudice and Moby Dick. I do not have a problem with those two books.

Let's do this together. I'll post haphazardly according to how many chapters I've read and then we can be mean to each other in the comments section.

Here is the list:

1 The Stranger (The Outsider) Albert Camus 1942

2 Remembrance of Things Past Marcel Proust 1913–1927

3 The Trial Franz Kafka 1925

4 The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 1943

5 Man's Fate André Malraux 1933

6 Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Céline 1932

7 The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck 1939

8 For Whom the Bell Tolls Ernest Hemingway 1940

9 Le Grand Meaulnes Alain-Fournier 1913

10 Froth on the Daydream Boris Vian 1947

11 The Second Sex Simone de Beauvoir 1949

12 Waiting for Godot Samuel Beckett 1952

13 Being and Nothingness Jean-Paul Sartre 1943

14 The Name of the Rose Umberto Eco 1980

15 The Gulag Archipelago Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 1973

16 Paroles Jacques Prévert 1946

17 Alcools Guillaume Apollinaire 1913

18 The Blue Lotus Hergé 1936

19 The Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank 1947

20 Tristes Tropiques Claude Lévi-Strauss 1955

21 Brave New World Aldous Huxley 1932

22 Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell 1949

23 Asterix the Gaul René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo 1959

24 The Bald Soprano Eugène Ionesco 1952 French

25 Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality Sigmund Freud 1905

26 The Abyss Marguerite Yourcenar 1968

27 Lolita Vladimir Nabokov 1955 English

28 Ulysses James Joyce 1922

29 The Tartar Steppe Dino Buzzati 1940

30 The Counterfeiters André Gide 1925

31 The Horseman on the Roof Jean Giono 1951

32 Belle du Seigneur Albert Cohen 1968

33 One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez 1967

34 The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner 1929

35 Thérèse Desqueyroux François Mauriac 1927

36 Zazie in the Metro Raymond Queneau 1959

37 Confusion of Feelings Stefan Zweig 1927

38 Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell 1936

39 Lady Chatterley's Lover D. H. Lawrence 1928

40 The Magic Mountain Thomas Mann 1924

41 Bonjour Tristesse Françoise Sagan 1954

42 Le Silence de la mer Vercors 1942

43 Life: A User's Manual Georges Perec 1978

44 The Hound of the Baskervilles Arthur Conan Doyle 1901–1902

45 Under the Sun of Satan Georges Bernanos 1926

46 The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald 1925

47 The Joke Milan Kundera 1967

48 A Ghost at Noon (Contempt) Alberto Moravia 1954

49 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Agatha Christie 1926

50 Nadja André Breton 1928

51 Aurélien Louis Aragon 1944

52 The Satin Slipper Paul Claudel 1929

53 Six Characters in Search of an Author Luigi Pirandello 1921

54 The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui Bertolt Brecht 1959

55 Vendredi ou les Limbes du Pacifique Michel Tournier 1967

56 The War of the Worlds H. G. Wells 1898

57 If This Is a Man Survival in Auschwitz Primo Levi 1947

58 The Lord of the Rings J. R. R. Tolkien 1954–1955

59 Les Vrilles de la vigne Colette 1908

60 Capitale de la douleur Paul Éluard 1926

61 Martin Eden Jack London 1909

62 Ballad of the Salt Sea Hugo Pratt 1967

63 Writing Degree Zero Roland Barthes 1953

64 The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum Heinrich Böll 1974

65 The Opposing Shore Julien Gracq 1951

66 The Order of Things Michel Foucault 1966

67 On the Road Jack Kerouac 1957

68 The Wonderful Adventures of Nils Selma Lagerlöf 1906–1907

69 A Room of One's Own Virginia Woolf 1929

70 The Martian Chronicles Ray Bradbury 1950

71 The Ravishing of Lol Stein Marguerite Duras 1964

72 The Interrogation J. M. G. Le Clézio 1963

73 Tropisms Nathalie Sarraute 1939

74 Journal, 1887–1910 Jules Renard 1925

75 Lord Jim Joseph Conrad 1900

76 Écrits Jacques Lacan 1966

77 The Theatre and its Double Antonin Artaud 1938

78 Manhattan Transfer John Dos Passos 1925

79 Ficciones Jorge Luis Borges 1944

80 Moravagine Blaise Cendrars 1926

81 The General of the Dead Army Ismail Kadare 1963

82 Sophie's Choice William Styron 1979

83 Gypsy Ballads Federico García Lorca 1928

84 The Strange Case of Peter the Lett Georges Simenon 1931

85 Our Lady of the Flowers Jean Genet 1944

86 The Man Without Qualities Robert Musil 1930–1932

87 Fureur et mystère René Char 1948

88 The Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger 1951

89 No Orchids For Miss Blandish James Hadley Chase 1939

90 Blake and Mortimer Edgar P. Jacobs 1950

91 The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge Rainer Maria Rilke 1910

92 Second Thoughts Michel Butor 1957

93 The Burden of Our Time The Origins of Totalitarianism Hannah Arendt 1951

94 The Master and Margarita Mikhail Bulgakov 1967

95 The Rosy Crucifixion Henry Miller 1949–1960

96 The Big Sleep Raymond Chandler 1939

97 Amers Saint-John Perse 1957

98 Gaston (Gomer Goof) André Franquin 1957

99 Under the Volcano Malcolm Lowry 1947

100 Midnight's Children Salman Rushdie

Whew! A tall order perhaps? Let's go until we drop. From the top, let's dive right into number one with The Stranger!


  1. I'm so excited about this! I can't wait to talk dirty about number 85!

  2. Micah SaccomannoJuly 2, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    Well, don't jump ahead, lest we have anarchy!

  3. Once you get passed 28 I'll wipe my brow from the sweat!