Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of… the 1860's, pt.2 (1865-1869)

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World fiction and genre fiction starting to get rolling...

Poll Results

Alice' Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 4
Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky 4
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens 2
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 2
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky 2
Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola 1
The Poor Man & The Lady by Thomas Hardy 1
Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope 1
Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore 1
A Morgadinha Dos Canaviais by Júlio Dinís 1
From The Earth To The Moon by Jules Verne 1
War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy 1
Uncle Silas by Sheridan LeFanu 1
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins 0
A Luneta Mágica by Joaquim de Macedo 0
The Steam Man Of The Prairie by Edward S Ellis 0
Ragged Dick by Horatio Alger 0
Mirat-ul-Uroos by Akbari Asghari 0
Madeleine Férat by Émile Zola 0
The Precipice by Ivan Goncharov 0
Monsieur Lecoq by Émile Gaboriau 0
Fosca by Iginio Ugo Tarchetti 0
An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott 0
The Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo 0
Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert 0
Auf der Höhe by Berthold Auerbach 0
María by Jorge Isaacs 0
The Legend of Thyl Ulenspiegel and Lamme Goedzak by Charles De Coster 0
As Pulias Do Senhor Reitor by Júlio Dinís 0
The Wind Is My Lover by Viktor Rydberg 0
Durgeshnandini by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee 0
Witiko by Adalbert Stifter 0
St.Elmo by Augusta Jane Evans 0
Armadale by Wilkie Collins 0
Felix Holt, The Radical by George Eliot 0
Griffith Gaunt by Charles Reade 0
The Adventures Of Captain Hatteras by Jules Verne 0
Toilers Of The Sea by Victor Hugo 0
The Gambler by Fyodor Dostevsky 0
The Islanders by Nikolai Leskov 0
Letters From Hell by Valdemar Adolph Thisted 0
The Tenth Brother by Josip Jurčič 0
Cometh Up As A Flower by Rhoda Broughton 0
Karan Ghelo by Nandshankar Mehta 0
Under Two Flags by Ouida 0
Smoke by Ivan Turgenev 0
Germinie Lacerteux by Edmund and Jules de Goncourt 0

Daniel_Rf, Saturday, 23 May 2020 11:39 (five months ago) link

James Wood twenty years ago on Sentimental Education:

So it is not really that Flaubert withdraws from his books to become God, for God does not exist. No, he withdraws only to the place that God would occupy if God existed. This strange, vacated metaphysics is reflected in the fiction. The insistent thrust of Flaubert's fiction is towards nullification. He looks upon his fictional world like an angry God who no longer exists. He lays waste to his people; he is disappointed in them. Henry James, who admired Flaubert, rightly complained that Frédéric, the young hero of Sentimental Education, is an uninteresting blank, and that the novel is thus something of an "empty epic." The only burning question of Sentimental Education is whether Frédéric is going to have sex with his various lovers. Frédéric has no other apparent preoccupation.

Perhaps Flaubert wanted to create a character so foolishly vain and empty that he would wander through Paris during the 1848 revolution and nullify the excitements around him. And that he does; bin then the novel also nullifies them, and rather nullifies itself, despite its many ravishments. (It is certainly a great novel.)

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 23 May 2020 11:42 (five months ago) link

Voting for Therese Raquin, not Zola's best, but his only great standalone novel.

Wuhan!! Got You All in Check (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Saturday, 23 May 2020 11:43 (five months ago) link

I'd say Dostoevsky, Alcott, Flaubert and Tolstoy all have a good shot here.

Personally I will cast what is sure to be the lone vote for Júlio Dinís and A Morgadinha Dos Canaviais, a novel of rural life that is like a warm hug to me, and which I managed to love despite living in rural Portugal myself at the time and knowing he was full of shit. I think of his description of a Portuguese christmas dinner on the regular.

If I could vote for two I'd also cast a vote for The Moonstone, fondly remembered Summer reading, crazily entertaining.


Daniel_Rf, Saturday, 23 May 2020 11:45 (five months ago) link

voted for Our Mutual Friend as I hadn't given Dickens a vote yet. plus having been an English major my classic world lit knowledge is super weak

dip to dup (rob), Saturday, 23 May 2020 12:33 (five months ago) link

this is brutal

Dostoevsky will suffer from vote splitting ... The Idiot > The Gambler > Crime and Punishment imo

Sentimental Education and Our Mutual Friend are my favorite Flaubert and Dickens novels

the correct answer is probably War and Peace, even though Tolstoy said it wasn't a novel

I voted for Uncle Silas because Sheridan LeFanu rules

Brad C., Saturday, 23 May 2020 17:20 (five months ago) link


A White, White Gay (cryptosicko), Saturday, 23 May 2020 17:48 (five months ago) link

Some really strong contenders here. Not ready to vote, yet.

A is for (Aimless), Saturday, 23 May 2020 18:44 (five months ago) link

Not voting here because there's too many books I haven't read which I can't deny are probably better than the ones I have read.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Sunday, 24 May 2020 19:02 (five months ago) link

Alice is such a literary unicorn it is impossible to assess it in the same universe as Tolstoy, Flaubert, Dickens, or Dostoevsky. It is as iconic as Shakespeare. But how can one say it is 'greater' than those other pinnacles of literature? If one tries to form objective measures by which they may be compared, Alice still scores amazingly high for popularity, familiarity, imagery, metaphor, quotability, even (yes) serious intent.

I just wish Alice's stans weren't such egregious fanboys and that Charles Lutwidge Dodgson weren't such a damaged and creepy human being. It makes it hard to want to endorse them, even if the book itself is innocent of these heavy faults.

For me, if I don't vote Alice, it will have to be The Idiot. It feels better if I don't reveal which.

A is for (Aimless), Sunday, 24 May 2020 19:47 (five months ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Wednesday, 27 May 2020 00:01 (five months ago) link


pomenitul, Wednesday, 27 May 2020 00:42 (five months ago) link

I'm impressed by how well read you all are. I've only read Alice.

wasdnous (abanana), Wednesday, 27 May 2020 01:34 (five months ago) link

Lorna Doona is my favourite on this list, technically it is by far from the best novel, it feels like RD Blackmore struggled to meet his publisher's word count for a lot of episodes and got asked to extend the story half way through, which results in quite a lot of filler although some of that filler is great and very picaresque, it has the best prose description of ducks I've ever read. It's also a historical romp I love historical fiction in general and this is set 200 years before its time and is full of romantic swashbuckling and derring do.

I'm pretty sure I've read it more often than any other Victorian novel.

American Fear of Pranksterism (Ed), Wednesday, 27 May 2020 02:42 (five months ago) link

I'd really like to vote for Hugo in one of these, but I can't go around The Idiot here.

Le Bateau Ivre, Wednesday, 27 May 2020 08:09 (five months ago) link

Eck, I think it'll have to be Crime and Punishment, even if my main memory of it is reading it in a Thai toilet with a disgraceful case of the trots.

Asking for recommendations always feels trite, but where to start with Turgenev?

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Wednesday, 27 May 2020 11:42 (five months ago) link

I haven't read Fathers and Sons, which might be better, but I started with Sketches from a Hunter's Album aka A Sportsman's Sketchbook and liked it quite a bit

Brad C., Wednesday, 27 May 2020 14:40 (five months ago) link

I read Fathers & Sons and enjoyed it but my favourite Turgenev experience was a NT performance of Three Days In The Country

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 27 May 2020 16:35 (five months ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Thursday, 28 May 2020 00:01 (five months ago) link

Raskolnikov's Adventures in Wonderland

Brad C., Thursday, 28 May 2020 00:33 (five months ago) link

where to start with Turgenev?

First Love in the Isaiah Berlin translation. it's short and sweet.

A is for (Aimless), Thursday, 28 May 2020 03:32 (five months ago) link

i feel confident claiming out mutual friend is dickens' finest even though i haven't read bleak house (or a whole bunch of lesser ones).

neith moon (ledge), Thursday, 28 May 2020 12:04 (five months ago) link

"First Love" is marvelous. I'll rep for On the Eve, oft overlooked.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 28 May 2020 12:19 (five months ago) link

The Last Chronicle of Barset would have got my vote if it'd been included. Trollope's best in my view and one of my favourite novels

gravalicious, Friday, 29 May 2020 09:24 (four months ago) link

Yeah, I don't really have a grasp of what Trollope's best/most highly rated work is and he put out like two books a year, so'z for omissions.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 29 May 2020 09:51 (four months ago) link

The Last Chronicle of Barset would have got my vote if it'd been included. Trollope's best in my view and one of my favourite novels

i'd probably have gone for this but 'best' seems like a stretch! i remember explaining the action of it--so it's about a clergyman who's genteel poor, and he may have stolen some money, but he's too depressed to remember, and it just follows him for a thousand pages--to a lot of people and getting quizzical looks and inquiries as to why i would read such a thing

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Friday, 29 May 2020 09:59 (four months ago) link

The Way We Live Now is generally regarded as his best, but I'd go for The Last Chronicle of Barset (and I've read tons of Trollope). The 1000 page torturing of Josiah Crawley might not be everyone's cup of tea but I think it's the kind of thing Trollope does best (see also Louis Trevelyan). You try and explain a Kafka or Beckett novel to most people and you'd probably get quizzical looks too.

gravalicious, Friday, 29 May 2020 11:12 (four months ago) link

"Germinie Lacerteux by Edmund and Jules de Goncourt"

The Journals by them are a marvel.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 29 May 2020 12:24 (four months ago) link

Ah, I still need to read them! Proust's loving send-ups are glorious.

dow, Saturday, 30 May 2020 02:53 (four months ago) link

Cheers for the Turgenev recommendations. Ordered First Love.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Saturday, 30 May 2020 15:49 (four months ago) link

there are lots at Project Gutenberg if anyone with an ereader wants to do similar (i have a couple on my todo list)


koogs, Saturday, 30 May 2020 16:03 (four months ago) link

The Last Chronicle of Barset would have got my vote if it'd been included. Trollope's best in my view and one of my favourite novels

Not surprising given my username, but I totally agree. Mr. Crawley is such an amazing character, I can't think of another Victorian novel with such a realistic and sympathetic depiction of mental illness.

Lily Dale, Friday, 12 June 2020 12:40 (four months ago) link

(Mr Dick in David Copperfield is the other one people usually suggest with, variably, schizophrenia or autism)

koogs, Friday, 12 June 2020 12:51 (four months ago) link

Yes, I can see that. But still, he's a minor character. With the Last Chronicle you have a whole Victorian epic, by a writer at the height of his powers, focusing on the intersection of poverty and mental illness, with a central character who suffers from severe clinical depression, who's not always rational, who's tremendously hard on himself and his family, and who you nonetheless sympathize with and root for and respect. I just can't think of anything else like that in Victorian literature.

Lily Dale, Friday, 12 June 2020 18:22 (four months ago) link

i've not read any trollope, i will add it to my list (but am i going to have to read the previous 5 to get to the good one?)

koogs, Friday, 12 June 2020 19:06 (four months ago) link

No, you can start with it. There are some plot strands that continue from the previous book, which is also very good, so if you care about that sort of thing you could start with The Small House at Allington, but I don't think it's necessary.

The whole series is worth reading, though. I'd say the first three books, though good, are the weakest; after that it just keeps getting better.

Lily Dale, Friday, 12 June 2020 19:15 (four months ago) link

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