Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1934

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at last we can read some fucking orwell

Poll Results

Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald 4
Tropic Of Cancer by Henry Miller 4
Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse 4
Independent People by Halldór Laxness 3
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain 3
I, Claudius by Robert Graves 2
Coot Club by Arthur Ransome 1
The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley 1
A Handful Of Dust by Evelyn Waugh 1
Call It Sleep by Henry Roth 1
The Song Of The World by Jean Giono 0
Young Girls In A Hothouse by Jeanne Galzy 0
Struggle With The Angel by Jean Giraudoux 0
Bagaj... by H. Bonciu 0
A Coin In Nine Hands by Marguerite Yourcenar 0
Deborence by Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz 0
La Guêpe by Albert Touchard 0
Umera Joel by Mait Metsanurk 0
Threepenny Novel by Bertholt Brecht 0
Return to Ina Damman by Simon Vestdijk 0
Sweat by Jorge Amado 0
A Sucessora by Carolina Nabuco 0
The Standard by Alexander Lernet-Holenia 0
The Pendragon Legend by Antal Szerb 0
Novel With Cocaine by M. Ageyev 0
Night Of The Galactic Railroad by Kenji Miyazawa 0
The Lady With The X-Ray Eyes by Svetoslav Minkov 0
Vila Mala by John Knittel 0
Clochemerie by Gabriel Chevalier 0
Winged Victory by Victor Maslin Yeates 0
Voyage In The Dark by Jean Rhys 0
Despair by Vladimir Nabokov 0
A Cool Million by Nathanael West 0
Babouk by Guy Endore 0
Seven Poor Men Of Sydney by Christina Stead 0
Rhondda Roundabout by Jack Jones 0
Now In November by Josephine Johnson 0
Jonah's Gourd Vine by Zora Neale Hurston 0
Burmese Days by George Orwell 0
Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout 0
Lust For Life by Irving Stone 0
The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers 0
Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie 0
Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers 0
A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh 0
Upsurge by J.M. Harcourt 0
Prelude To Christopher by Eleanor Dark 0
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett 0
The Plague Court Murders by Caretr Dickson 0
Appointment In Samarra by John O'Hara 0

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 18 January 2021 16:38 (five months ago) link

Crazy how there was nothing I had read and only a few I'd really heard of in 1933, but so much mega-canonical stuff one year later!

Guayaquil (eephus!), Monday, 18 January 2021 16:40 (five months ago) link

A hard call for me between Independent People and Tender is the Night, but the former meant more to me personally and I feel like it's less likely to draw votes so Laxness it is.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Monday, 18 January 2021 16:42 (five months ago) link

I remember nothing about Appointment in Samarra except that I really liked it.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Monday, 18 January 2021 16:42 (five months ago) link

I have read three: Voyage In The Dark is a typically devastating Rhys; Right Ho Jeeves is a total delight as Wodehouse always is; but I'm actually gonna be challopy and vote for the pure trash thrills of The Devil Rides Out. My fav detail I remember from it is the party of our heroes arrive at a Paris hotel and the protagonist immediately has the concierge send some flowers up to the girl's room, even though they came there together and he has no romantic designs on any of them. The kind of bon vivant swagger that would curdle into ration-era bitterness in later Wheatley novels.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 18 January 2021 16:44 (five months ago) link

Lots of fascinating stuff in this:

The Lady With the X-Ray Eyes (Bulgarian: Дамата с рентгеновите очи) is an absurdist fiction novel by Bulgarian writer Svetoslav Minkov, first published in Germany in 1934. It contains many sarcastic, parodic, diabolic and absurdist elements concerning the superficial nature of modern society.[1] With this work Minkov laid the foundations of Bulgarian science fiction.[2]

Novel with Cocaine, or sometimes Cocain Romance (Russian: Роман с кокаином - Roman s kokainom), is a mysterious Russian novel first published in 1934 in a Parisian émigré publication, Numbers,[1] and subtitled "Confessions of a Russian opium-eater". Its author was given as M. Ageyev. The English translation of the title fails to convey the double meaning of the Russian "Роман," meaning both "novel" and "romance."

The Pendragon Legend is a 1934 novel by the Hungarian writer Antal Szerb. The book is a philosophical thriller/comedy/murder-mystery/ghost story set first in London and then in Wales. A mystical element is diffused through an increasingly complex plot, as all threads converge in the final chapters.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 18 January 2021 16:46 (five months ago) link

Clochemerle (not Clochemerie) I read as a teenager probably just because it was on a bookshelf at home, perfectly acceptable small town satire. The only other one I definitely recall reading is I, Claudius. Really liked Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian so A Coin in Nine Hands piques my interest here.

ledge, Monday, 18 January 2021 16:49 (five months ago) link

Appointment v. witty-dishy w the small town dirt, appreciated by teen me,checking out adult behavior, but even then characters seemed too hollow, clinical specimens, A Cool Million also okay-but-slight,The Postman Always Rings Twice was chilling--- enjoyment of every screen version, incl. Italian, didn't prepare me for voice of the killer. Also got into Call It Sleep. The Thin Man is good if you're following Hammett, Tender Is The Night if you're following Fitz, but I'll go with Tropic of Cancer, which for inst seems pre-Beat to say the least.

dow, Monday, 18 January 2021 17:35 (five months ago) link

i loved The Postman Always Rings Twice, despite never seeing any film version. is the 1946 film (dir Tay Garnett) the one to seek out first?

Karl Malone, Monday, 18 January 2021 17:37 (five months ago) link

Think so, yeah!
I, Claudius was disappointing, but I was expecting something more like the splendidly 70s-decadent BBC/PBS adaptation. Maybe I'll try it again.

dow, Monday, 18 January 2021 17:39 (five months ago) link

Henry Roth. First novel: 1934. Second novel: 1994.

... (Eazy), Monday, 18 January 2021 17:53 (five months ago) link

I just read 'Right Ho, Jeeves'. Such fun! I'm voting for it.

cajunsunday, Monday, 18 January 2021 17:57 (five months ago) link

xp Yes, and at least a couple more after that, a trilogy. Are they good?

dow, Monday, 18 January 2021 17:59 (five months ago) link

I, Claudius reads like a prequel to a book called I, Claudius.

ledge, Monday, 18 January 2021 18:01 (five months ago) link

I really struggled with Independent People. I need to go back to it. I've read Despair but can't remember a single thing about it. I think it'll have to be Tropic of Cancer, even though Miller was clearly an awful prick of a man.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Monday, 18 January 2021 18:04 (five months ago) link

(This isn't the thread to ask, but is there a best Jeeves to start with. I'm a Wodehouse virgin.)

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Monday, 18 January 2021 18:04 (five months ago) link

I'd start with The Code of the Woosters, the third full-length novel and one of the greatest. You don't have to start at the beginning with the Jeeves novels. They do allude to prior volumes, but they're all pretty much self-contained. Spoilers hardly matter at all.

jmm, Monday, 18 January 2021 18:14 (five months ago) link

toughest list yet

O'Hara's first novel is good for its merciless observation of a familiar type of American male; I like some of his later books better

Postman is probably the best Cain, he's much darker than the hardboiled crime writers he's usually lumped in with

excellent mysteries by Hammett, Marsh, Christie, and Sayers, and especially Carter Dickson (John Dickson Carr) ... The Plague Court Murders is his most effective combination of horror and detection

Tender is the Night is woolier and more predictable than Gatsby but entertaining and moving; it bears up well under re-readings

most of these are better-made and less problematic books than Tropic of Cancer but I have to vote for Miller this time

Brad C., Monday, 18 January 2021 18:25 (five months ago) link

I feel like it's less likely to draw votes so Laxness it is.

Laxness vote here, too.

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Monday, 18 January 2021 18:45 (five months ago) link

Xp Thanks jmm.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Monday, 18 January 2021 18:57 (five months ago) link

Novel with Cocaine, or sometimes Cocain Romance (Russian: Роман с кокаином - Roman s kokainom), is a mysterious Russian novel first published in 1934 in a Parisian émigré publication, Numbers,[1] and subtitled "Confessions of a Russian opium-eater". Its author was given as M. Ageyev. The English translation of the title fails to convey the double meaning of the Russian "Роман," meaning both "novel" and "romance."

i had never heard of this book until recently when i was reading knausgaard's my struggle series and the teenage karl ove is a fan of the book. must get round to reading it some time.

tender is the night is the best f. scott fitzgerald novel imo. very depressing. also the only one of these i have read

Fenners' Pen (jim in vancouver), Monday, 18 January 2021 19:14 (five months ago) link

I've never heard of Laxness. Excited to check it out!

cajunsunday, Monday, 18 January 2021 19:22 (five months ago) link

The has got to be a peak year for mysteries: Christie's Murder on a Calais Coach, Sayers's The Nine Tailors; and The Postman Always Rings Twice on the crime side. Also releases by Hammett, Rex Stout, John Dickson Carr (as Carter Dickson), and Ngaio Marsh, none of which I've read.

wasdnuos (abanana), Monday, 18 January 2021 19:36 (five months ago) link

Reading Murder on the Orient Express as an adult (or any Christie from that period) really hammers home how much people believed in national characteristics -- like, "Italians are LIKE THIS" and "Russians are LIKE THAT" and etc. such a dominant note in the way everyone other than the chief protagonists are handled. I imagine this is similar for other genre fiction of the period but I haven't really read it. Definitely applies to the way Jews are handled in "high lit" of the time, 'sup Edith Wharton, but unlike what one gets in Christie, Wharton's Jews are not called upon to do something Jewy every single time they trot on stage

Guayaquil (eephus!), Monday, 18 January 2021 19:52 (five months ago) link

The Library of America Complete Novels of Dashell Hammett is reasonably priced for quality physicality, and of course they always go back to the original text, avoiding mistakes in reprints---but, you can find copies of this 1965 completion (which I read in the 70s, and my local library still has that copy; it's durable) in Condition: Good starting at $4.00 on the site of a certain Empire, for inst:

The Novels of Dashiell Hammett - [Contents: Red Harvest -- the Dain Curse -- the Maltese Falcon -- the Glass Key -- the Thin Man] Hardcover – January 1, 1965-New York; Knopf; 1st Edition in this form
Smart to alternate the stronger and lesser-but-enjoyable novels like that, ending w pizazz of The Thin Man.


dow, Monday, 18 January 2021 20:10 (five months ago) link

And a lot of his stories, incl. novellas, I think, have since been excavated, but I've only read a couple (pretty good).

dow, Monday, 18 January 2021 20:12 (five months ago) link

So much stuff in this list I have seen in adaptation but not read. I think I Claudius might be the only one I’ve read (certainly the only one I’ve hand bound in red leather). I remember the BBC series not the book, though.

American Fear of Scampos (Ed), Monday, 18 January 2021 20:30 (five months ago) link

Love to read Cain, Hammett. Read half of Laxness, which I'd like to give another go this year.

I've read Rhys, which is great but not voting for it.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 18 January 2021 22:03 (five months ago) link

Independent People is the greatest Laxness novel I've read, but it is easily the grimmest, darkest and most emotionally challenging. It hearkens back to Icelandic sagas and their familiar intimacy with endless winter, struggle and death.

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Monday, 18 January 2021 22:45 (five months ago) link

Tender is the Night approximates a messy double album: bad ideas, chapters you'd discard or heavily rewrite, but I love its flawed splendor.

I love Tender is the Night! Definitely flawed, but so beautiful in parts! Makes me sob.

horseshoe, Monday, 18 January 2021 22:49 (five months ago) link

I was prepared to vote for An Ordinary Life, which is the third part of Karel Capek's Three Novels (I voted for the first part, Hordubal, last time), but it's not here. I really cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Lily Dale, Monday, 18 January 2021 23:00 (five months ago) link

I've read it four or five times, most recently about six years ago; I'm sure the Nicole parts I'd find most troublesome, almost as much as Fitz's insistence that Dick Diver had SO MUCH PROMISE DO YOU SEE. But those Nicole passages, the few from her POV, are illuminating; he never condescended to the caprices and longings of his women.

Yeah, it's a must for Fitz headz. Also worth a read: Calvin Tomkins' Living Well Is The Best Revenge, about awes expats Gerald and Sara Murphy, whose cushy family home was a salon and who were a major inspiration for TITN (well Dick and Nicole are kind of in there between Gerald and Sara and Scott and Zelda, I take it). Gerald was a proto-Pop Artist, in the 30s, if not the 20s or earlier---been a long time since I read it---the Modern Library edition, like the earlier, features some excellent paintings, also a new preface by Tomkins and revised last chapter

dow, Tuesday, 19 January 2021 01:14 (five months ago) link

Oh yeah, here's one of his paintings on the cover:


dow, Tuesday, 19 January 2021 01:17 (five months ago) link

You really have to see it up close to get it, but that gives an idea.

dow, Tuesday, 19 January 2021 01:18 (five months ago) link

Tender... is fairly long and uneven, double-LP like Alfred says, so prob not the one I'd want to start with---think for me it was either Tales of the Jazz Age or Gatsby---but once you're hooked, go for it. A hot mess can be pretty, you know, hot.

dow, Tuesday, 19 January 2021 01:24 (five months ago) link

i struggled with pendragon legend, having loved journey into moonlight, but maybe i should give it another go. i did not find the comedy comic.

several good genre novels here, murder on the orient express, the nine tails with its fenland mood, the plague court murders, marred only by Carter Dickson being Carter Dickson (Merrivale) instead of John Dickson Carr (Fell).

Jeeves is wonderful ofc, Despair and iirc Coot Club also good, tho the only Ransome i really fuck with these days is We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea.

Despair itself creates some peripheral but nagging questions of text. 1934 was the publication of the original Russian novel, Отчаяние. He then translated it later, as one of his first forays into English, and ofc its his *English* language with which as a teenager i fell in love. Perhaps it was only the ability of him as an author to reach deeply into his intentions in the original text and ensure the melody of the English expressed them. So as a landmark in Nabokov’s Englishing of his Russian novels and his aesthetic it’s significant. Except the original translation was i think lost in the war, so Nabokov translated it *again* much later, after his English approach was much more developed, and that is the text i read as a teenager. So what am i voting for if it cote for it here? All v Nabokovian (and slightly Boregsian). There is no essence, just bifurcating images in a set of mirrors.

Fizzles, Tuesday, 19 January 2021 05:49 (five months ago) link

I don't have much to add about Independent People aside from the fact I'll vote for it.

"A Coin In Nine Hands" was my first Yourcenar, I suppose twenty years ago now, and I loved it then and must read it again. I remember it being woozy and beautiful but I was in the middle of a months-long illness so who knows?

"The Song of the World" is my favourite Giono of the three or four I've read, it really hums with a kind of joy, and that plays well with the unease and confusion of the modern creeping in to what is an ancient way fo life. I'm surprised the current-is fashion for reading rural fiction about shepherds and whatnot doesn't seem to have meant a moment for Giono.

All of these extensively covered on the Harvill thread, of course.

Tim, Tuesday, 19 January 2021 08:59 (five months ago) link

I was prepared to vote for An Ordinary Life, which is the third part of Karel Capek's Three Novels (I voted for the first part, Hordubal, last time), but it's not here

Time for everyone to start checking if their future faves have English language wikipedia entries and, if not, to create them!

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 19 January 2021 10:59 (five months ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Wednesday, 20 January 2021 00:01 (five months ago) link

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

System, Thursday, 21 January 2021 00:01 (five months ago) link

Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1935

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 21 January 2021 12:31 (five months ago) link

you pervs

Guayaquil (eephus!), Thursday, 21 January 2021 16:17 (five months ago) link

Tropic of Cancer is a difficult book to place on its merits, because its major merit applied with greatest force to the world in which it first appeared and as the world has changed since then, those merits have lost all their power and most of their value. Most of what's left of ToC for contemporary readers is Miller's egotism and crudity. Orwell's review of ToC is worth revisiting, if only to re-situate it in its time and place, under the light of a very perceptive critic. Orwell liked and appreciated it, largely because he saw Miller as the only author of his time who was legitimately happy.

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Thursday, 21 January 2021 21:57 (five months ago) link

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