Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1940

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

have at it

Poll Results

OptionVotes
Native Son by Richard Wright 5
The Invention Of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares 4
The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead 4
Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler 4
Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler 3
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers 2
The Seed by Tarjei Vesaas 1
Slan by A.E. Van Vogt 1
For Whomst The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway 1
The Hamlet by William Faulkner 1
The Naughtiest Girl In The School by Enid Blyton 0
Captain Ladurner by Luis Trenker 0
Stolen Spring by Hans Scherfig 0
Sergeant Lamb Of The Ninth by Robert Graves 0
The Power And The Glory by Graham Greene 0
Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie 0
Captain Jan by Jan de Hartog 0
Casanova In Bolzano by Sándor Márai 0
Twilight In Delhi by Ahmed Ali 0
Timur And His Squad by Arkady Gaidar 0
The Three Musketeers In Africa by Jeno Rejto 0
The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati 0
The Strangers In The House by Georges Simenon 0
Kallocain by Karin Boye 0
Inspector Palmu's Mistake by Mika Waltari 0
The Environs Of Aden by Pierre Benoit 0
The Don Flows Home To The Sea by Mikhail Sholokhov 0
The Man Who Went Back by Warwick Deeping 0
Journey Into Fear by Eric Ambler 0
Sapphira And The Slave Girl by Willa Cather 0
River Of Earth by James Still 0
Belenggoe by Armijn Pane 0
Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight 0
The Bride Wore Black by Cornell Woolrich 0
Blue Willow by Doris Gates 0
Bethel Merriday by Sinclair Lewis 0
The Ox Bow Incident by Walter Van Tillburg Clarck 0
The Trees by Conrad Richter 0
Where There's A Will by Rex Stout 0
The Ill-Made Knight by T.H. White 0
George Passant by C.P. Snow 0
Fanny By Gaslight by Michael Sadleir 0
Fame Is The Spur by Howard Spring 0
Cue For Treason by Geoffrey Trease 0
All Aboard For Ararat by H.G. Wells 0
You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe 0
World's End by Upton Sinclair 0
Mariana by Monica Dickens 0


Daniel_Rf, Monday, 8 February 2021 12:04 (one month ago) link

Read the Hemingway as a teen, think my main concern at the time was thinking him "a bit right wing" and thus happy surprise that the protagonist is fighting on the "good" side. Can't really tell you much beyond that.

Joe Dante mentions "The Ox Bow Incident" as a book his parents kept trying to get him to read.

Couple curios:

Captain Ladurner (German: Hauptmann Ladurner) is a 1940 German adventure novel by the South Tyrol mountaineer Luis Trenker. It portrays a group of First World War veterans who conspire to overthrow the Weimar Republic, portrayed as corrupt.[1]

It was released by Trenker following his film The Fire Devil which had apparently displeased Adolf Hitler with his glorification of popular revolts.[2]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Timur and His Squad (Timur I yevo komanda, Тимур и его команда) is a short novel by Arkady Gaidar, written and first published in 1940. The book, telling the story of a gang of village kids who sneak around secretly doing good deeds, protecting families whose fathers and husbands are in the Red Army, and doing battle against nasty hooligans had a huge impact upon the young Soviet audiences. Timurite movement (Timurovtsy), involving thousands of children, became a massive phenomenon all over the country. Timur and His Squad remained part of the curriculum in every Soviet school even up into the 1990s.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 8 February 2021 13:44 (one month ago) link

The Man Who Loved Children for me. Big, garrulous beast of a book.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Monday, 8 February 2021 14:18 (one month ago) link

Oxbow incident is a story about a posse going crazy and hanging the wrong people and the consequences of those actions. There's a film of it from sometime over the next decade I think. Which i think I've seen at least once and is still turning up in the afternoons on movie channels and things.TCM like.

Stevolende, Monday, 8 February 2021 14:22 (one month ago) link

Yeah, with Henry Fonda in it. iirc it even starts with a bookshelf, like Disney movies that are adapted from classic literature. Or maybe it's just that Henry Fonda pimps the book in the trailer? Anyway, thought it strange that a young Joe Dante would be so allergic to a western novel.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 8 February 2021 14:35 (one month ago) link

lol at Whomst

Hemingway narrowly over Native Son

The Bride Wore Black is probably the best of Woolrich's insane noir melodramas

Brad C., Monday, 8 February 2021 14:41 (one month ago) link

I know it turned up in one of those Noirsh collections of 4 novels I was looking at in the 80s. NOt sure what with or if I read through it all.

Stevolende, Monday, 8 February 2021 14:45 (one month ago) link

The Invention Of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares

This has been on my 'to read' list for ages, but I kind of want to read some Ocampo first.

Anyway, this is pretty easily The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter for me.

emil.y, Monday, 8 February 2021 14:45 (one month ago) link

Of the three or so I've read, The Man who Loved Children by a mile, though it's not an easy read - nor has it stuck in my mind as much as I thought or hoped it might.

ledge, Monday, 8 February 2021 15:13 (one month ago) link

I've only read McCullers, Koestler, and Casares, but damn this looks like a strong year for novels. I voted Koestler.

wasdnuos (abanana), Monday, 8 February 2021 15:20 (one month ago) link

The Koestler book acutely describes a particular species of political extremity that is both batshit crazy and so minutely rationalized that it looks almost sane. Each time I've read it, I was gobsmacked by it. Beyond that, I've also read the Hemingway (long ago) and Cather (recently).

But, as much as I'd have a hard time calling it a 'favorite', I will vote for Native Son. That's a book that was torn straight from the heart.

Compromise isn't a principle, it's a method (Aimless), Monday, 8 February 2021 16:29 (one month ago) link

Adolfo Bioy Casares turns up as a character in Borges' story "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius", so he gets the nod over Chandler (the only other one on the list I've read) just for that.

Wa

The Ballad of Mel Cooley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 8 February 2021 17:14 (one month ago) link

Wait, which Bioy? Morel? Okay, then.

The Ballad of Mel Cooley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 8 February 2021 17:15 (one month ago) link

xp I too will go for Native Son, which goes so deep into the mind of Bigger Thomas, showing you the world from his point of view without tearjerking reduction/overselling: it's eloquent and lucid without making him seem intellectual, or articulate in the outer world---helps that it's in third person, though reminds me in effect of the killer's narration in The Postman Always Rings Twice, just a bit.
Fortunately, I neglected to read it 'til the restored Library of America edition came out in 1991. He was forced to make (awkward at best) changes to get it accepted by the Book Of The Month Club, which was a huge deal in 1940, and that's the only version available for the next 40 years, apparently.
The only prob I had w The Heart... was mopey and misleading title (also trade pb w poster child pic of young McC.): this small town saga-cycle of character development over the years, ending (and finished) with the beginnings of World War flickering over just over the horizon (and Depression making something of a comeback as FDR starts to take deficit hawks seriously, although this is set in the Deep South, and never that well off anyway, so hey) has quite an emotional range, incl. humor, though never joeky. Can seem anecdotal, even, but it all connects and builds;
Don't remember The Hamlet that well, but got me hooked on Faulkner.
The Man Who Loved Children is very large, but I've got it and hope to read it; Scott Seward endorsed it several times on ilx (didn't he start ILB?)

dow, Monday, 8 February 2021 17:29 (one month ago) link

Native Son imo.

I keep meaning to read The Man Who Loved Children

horseshoe, Monday, 8 February 2021 17:32 (one month ago) link

Yes to the last few things typed by dow.

The Ballad of Mel Cooley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 8 February 2021 17:33 (one month ago) link

The Man Who Loved Children is the best novel ever written.

xxp "making him seem...articulate"---period, really: Wright doesn't bother with italicized thoughts etc., just describes what he sees and hears in there.

dow, Monday, 8 February 2021 17:35 (one month ago) link

making these choices is getting more traumatic.

dow, Monday, 8 February 2021 17:37 (one month ago) link

"only version available for the next *51* years, apparently"!

dow, Monday, 8 February 2021 17:43 (one month ago) link

What a year! I think I'm voting for the Koestler, though I read The Strangers in the House this summer and liked it a lot.

Randall Jarrell has a great essay about The Man Who Loved Children. I couldn't make it all the way through the book as it was just too oppressively unpleasant and made me feel sick, but I have a lot of respect for it.

I am not a psychic community (Lily Dale), Monday, 8 February 2021 17:47 (one month ago) link

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers -- unimpeachable

Slan by A.E. Van Vogt -- theoretically English prose, absolutely terrible

The Bride Wore Black by Cornell Woolrich -- entertaining batshit

Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler -- his other best book

Sapphira And The Slave Girl by Willa Cather -- minor Cather is still fucking awesome

The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead -- utter masterpiece, still wish her editor hadn't made her de-Australianise it

Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler -- grim as fuck, brilliant, shame he was a rapist

Journey Into Fear by Eric Ambler -- another top-tier Ambler, his 30s/40s books were pretty amazing

The Naughtiest Girl In The School by Enid Blyton -- Blyton was a narc

The Power And The Glory by Graham Greene -- even though the Catholic stuff threatens to overwhelm it, still a brilliant book

Kallocain by Karin Boye -- tremendous weird SF novel of global totalitarianism, brainwashing and drugs; Huxley wishes he'd been this good

The Invention Of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares -- another tremendous SF novel, one of my favourite books

The Strangers In The House by Georges Simenon -- creepy going-to-seed man caught up in intergenerational shenanigans crime novel, really really good

The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati -- nothing much happens, but it's a brilliant book

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Monday, 8 February 2021 23:20 (one month ago) link

Great movie too.

The Ballad of Mel Cooley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 8 February 2021 23:25 (one month ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Wednesday, 10 February 2021 00:01 (three weeks ago) link

Can I mention that one of the "missed connections" in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is between a 14-year-old who wants a mature man and a middle aged man who is an ephebophile? Which, okay, nothing ever happens, but also, that is some dangerous territory.

wasdnuos (abanana), Wednesday, 10 February 2021 00:24 (three weeks ago) link

There’s a bunch I have read (Hemmingway, Greene, Trease) and remember stuff all about.

The only one I’m really familiar with is Fame is the Spur and than through a 70s radio play starring Ian McKellan as ur-melt Hamer Shawcross. I should probably read the book.

American Fear of Scampos (Ed), Wednesday, 10 February 2021 10:00 (three weeks ago) link

There’s a bunch I have read (Hemmingway, Greene, Trease) and remember stuff all about.

The only one I’m really familiar with is Fame is the Spur and than through a 70s radio play starring Ian McKellan as ur-melt Hamer Shawcross. I should probably read the book.

American Fear of Scampos (Ed), Wednesday, 10 February 2021 10:00 (three weeks ago) link

I've reada couple of Koestler's biographies of people, not sure if they were fictionalised accounts or novelised. They tied in with a history of Science module I did at University possibly to other courses too. I liked his writing.
Have meant to read more.
Wasn't aware of rape thing.

Stevolende, Wednesday, 10 February 2021 10:07 (three weeks ago) link

McCullers. Quite like to read The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead and don't care for Casares

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 10 February 2021 12:20 (three weeks ago) link

I've only read The Power and the Glory, which is probably due for a re-read since I don't remember it very well.

o. nate, Wednesday, 10 February 2021 16:18 (three weeks ago) link

Slan by A.E. Van Vogt -- theoretically English prose, absolutely terrible

Van Vogt was a strange person. He had a mechanical, almost Oulipian technique for writing. He didn't seem to understand what literature was.

I have never read the repulsive Slan and never will. But the penumbra around it is the very stuff of literature.

These lists are wonderful for including the likes of Slan with the likes of For Whom The Bell Tolls.

alimosina, Wednesday, 10 February 2021 18:55 (three weeks ago) link

Yes. Where are these lists coming from again? Daniel is making them up or...?

The Ballad of Mel Cooley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 10 February 2021 20:23 (three weeks ago) link

wikipedia has per-year pages

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:1940_novels

but it's not that simple

koogs, Wednesday, 10 February 2021 20:37 (three weeks ago) link

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

System, Thursday, 11 February 2021 00:01 (three weeks ago) link

All right, what joker cast the vote for Slan?

alimosina, Thursday, 11 February 2021 00:53 (three weeks ago) link

Yeah, I select from the wikipedia per year pages, trying to give particular emphasis to non-US/UK stuff (which nonetheless always dominates). I also try to fit in as many curios as possible and hit a good balance between literary and genre fiction, but it's getting harder as the number of books listed per year starts to pile up and tons of hugely canonical works show up in one year.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 11 February 2021 11:14 (three weeks ago) link

Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1941

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 11 February 2021 15:18 (three weeks ago) link


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.