Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1954

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Poll Results

OptionVotes
Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan 5
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson 4
The Fellowship Of The Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien 3
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis 3
Story Of O by Pauline Réage 3
My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts by Amos Tutuola 2
Lord Of The Flies by William Golding 2
The Sound Of Waves by Yukio Mishima 1
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien 1
I'm Not Stiller by Max Frisch 1
Pictures From An Institution by Randall Jarrell 1
Under The Net by Iris Murdoch 1
La Boîte À Merveilles by Ahmed Sefrioui 0
Ummachu by Uroob 0
The Bowels Of Liberty by Jorge Amado 0
Maila Anchal by Phanishwar Nath Renu 0
Brother Man by Roger Mais 0
Nectar In A Sieve by Kamala Markandaya 0
Clouds Over Hellesta by Margit Soderholm 0
Death In Rome by Wolfgang Koeppen 0
Spring Night by Tarjei Vesaas 0
Sharks And Little Fish by Wolfgang Ott 0
Philip And The Others by Cees Nooteboom 0
Christ Recrucified by Nikos Kazantzakis 0
The Lake by Yasunari Kawabata 0
The Watchmaker Of Everton by Georges Simenon 0
Everyone Had Six Wings by Hanoch Bartov 0
The Descendants Of Cain by Hwang Sun-won 0
The Thaw by Ilya Ehrenburg 0
Normance by Louis-Ferdinand Céline 0
The Horse And His Boy by C.S. Lewis 0
Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck 0
A Spy In The House Of Love by Anais Nin 0
Messiah by Gore Vidal 0
A Fable by William Faulkner 0
The Bird's Nest by Shirley Jackson 0
The Bad Seed by William March 0
People Of The City by Cyprian Ekwensi 0
Live And Let Die by Ian Fleming 0
The Magicians by J.B. Priestley 0
The New Men by C.P. Snow 0
The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir 0
The Living And The Dead by Boileau-Narcejac 0
Hecate And Her Dogs by Paul Morand 0
L'Amour Monstre by Louis Pauwels 0
The Unknown Soldier by Vaino Linna 0
Yellow Boots by Vera Lysenko 0
The World In The Evening by Christopher Isherwood 0
A Proper Marriage by Doris Lessing 0
Leaf Storm by Gabriel García Márquez 0


Daniel_Rf, Monday, 29 March 2021 11:36 (two weeks ago) link

One would assume that Tolkien's winning this one, but might be hurt by vote splitting because of quarrels over which of the two is better (it's Fellowship ftr). Is anything popular enough to swoop in? Bonjour Tristesse, Lord Of The Flies?

Anyway, if I was being 100% honest I'd go with Fellowship, but think I'll drop a strategic vote for Under The Net instead - a rollicking comic novel featuring the British cinema industry, as far from the other Murdoch I've read as it could possibly be.

The Jorge Amado is actually a trilogy, too, but they were all published the same year and in the unlikely event there's more than one ILXor who wants to vote for one of them I felt I shouldn't votesplit (and, as importantly, take up spaces from other writers).

Haven't read the Simenon but there's a great movie adaptation by the recently deceased Bertrand Tavernier.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 29 March 2021 12:25 (two weeks ago) link

I'll go with Golding. More because I hated Fellowship of the Ring and I want it to lose than anything else.

wasdnuos (abanana), Monday, 29 March 2021 14:16 (two weeks ago) link

I'm Not Stiller is an incredible book. I need to reread that one, it's been years.

Mark E. Smith died this year. Or, maybe last year. (bernard snowy), Monday, 29 March 2021 14:23 (two weeks ago) link

I'm not sure I'd ever want to read it again, but LOTF left more of an impression on me than LOTR

rob, Monday, 29 March 2021 14:28 (two weeks ago) link

I love I Am Legend and will vote for that. Tolkien will be just fine without me, I'm sure.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Monday, 29 March 2021 15:13 (two weeks ago) link

Hmmmmm. I've read a few of these and I have issues with all of them, tbh. I think this might be a very grudging vote for Sagan. Never been sure if the accuracy of bourgeois vacuousness portrayed is a highly skilful rendition of its target or if Sagan's work is just itself vacuous and bourgeois.

emil.y, Monday, 29 March 2021 15:26 (two weeks ago) link

i have read none of these...i really think i should read Lord of the Flies; students are always telling me they love it.

horseshoe, Monday, 29 March 2021 15:27 (two weeks ago) link

Would also like to read the García Márquez, the Shirley Jackson, the Lessing, and the Murdoch.

horseshoe, Monday, 29 March 2021 15:29 (two weeks ago) link

The Bird's Nest made a huge impression on me; it's hard to say if that impression was good or bad, but it was very memorable. But I don't feel qualified to vote in this poll as I haven't read My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, The Sound of Waves, or Nectar in a Sieve.

Lily Dale, Monday, 29 March 2021 15:30 (two weeks ago) link

tbf the impression left on me by LOTF might not be a positive one: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/may/09/the-real-lord-of-the-flies-what-happened-when-six-boys-were-shipwrecked-for-15-months

rob, Monday, 29 March 2021 15:31 (two weeks ago) link

My dad has this thing about Lord of the Flies being the crappy version of A High Wind in Jamaica, which I think he got from his dad. So I was raised to think of it as a bad book, and I read it so long ago I have no idea what I actually think of it.

Lily Dale, Monday, 29 March 2021 15:35 (two weeks ago) link

i think part of the reason i still haven't read LOTF is that it sounds horrifying lol.

horseshoe, Monday, 29 March 2021 15:36 (two weeks ago) link

Went for Amos Tutuola over the handful of other entries I've read if only to give the lad a fighting chance.

tonto's expanding waistband (Matt #2), Monday, 29 March 2021 15:38 (two weeks ago) link

There were plans to make a gender reversed LOTF recently, and a lot of the ppl arguing against it suggested that LOTF is about masculinity. As someone whose biggest bullies were girls - and the bullying included physical assault, fwiw - I was somewhat unmoved by this argument. Not saying the gender-switched film project looked good, mind.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 29 March 2021 15:50 (two weeks ago) link

I read LOTF in high school and thought it seemed plausible, but don't remember it so well, like several of these (as usual). I read LOTR long after most of my friends, who had for instance those Ballentine paperbacks, but I was lucky enough to get hooked on library copy of a three-in-one edition, as originally intended ( with lots of typos excised and at least some of the author's past-the-last-minute corrections, tiny, belatedly deciphered marginalia scribbles in drafts and galleys etc [like Balzac and Proust])---so I don't want to vote for a single volume.
I'll go with the other one I remember best, I Am Legend: Matheson, macabre and methodical as usual, works out the path and practices of the one Normal Man in a (post-pandemic)world of vampires and their subjugates---for them, he is the nightmare terrorist, and what does this do to his righteous Normality, and why as well as how does he do the things he does.

dow, Monday, 29 March 2021 22:56 (two weeks ago) link

I've read shamefully few of these, basically just the Tolkiens and the Narnia, none of which I have a strong memory of, other than Tolkien was much more of a slog than I had been led to believe, maybe I read it too young.

o. nate, Tuesday, 30 March 2021 02:29 (two weeks ago) link

Have read a surprising 11 of these. Not as strong a year as 1953, I guess Lord of the Flies is "objectively" the best, but familiarity has bred if not contempt, then a certain ennui. Another ambivalent vote for Bonjour Tristesse.

Zelda Zonk, Tuesday, 30 March 2021 04:15 (two weeks ago) link

This list feels like a merge of separate universes. Lucky Jim, Lord of the Rings, García Márquez, My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, Céline, Gore Vidal, Ian Fleming and Mishima simultaneously.

alimosina, Tuesday, 30 March 2021 14:34 (two weeks ago) link

That's one of the main reasons I do these, tbh. I remember a friend owning a book where you could see which historical figures were contemporaries and that sense of parallel realities co-existing is something I get a tremendous kick out of.

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 30 March 2021 14:38 (two weeks ago) link

Lord of the Flies is conservative, establishment propaganda. There's a reason everyone gets taught it in school

or something, Tuesday, 30 March 2021 16:29 (two weeks ago) link

Couldn't be that schoolkids enjoy reading about the dark side of schoolkids.

jmm, Tuesday, 30 March 2021 17:03 (two weeks ago) link

It worked on you then

or something, Tuesday, 30 March 2021 17:15 (two weeks ago) link

Lord Of The Flies usually gets the "all kids are like this" treatment but it was only ever really a "English public school boys are like this" thing.

Bastard Lakes (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Tuesday, 30 March 2021 17:24 (two weeks ago) link

could have voted for 6 or so last time, there are a good 6 or so here that look like solid second choices.

Bastard Lakes (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Tuesday, 30 March 2021 17:25 (two weeks ago) link

Lord of the Flies is conservative, establishment propaganda.

Care to elaborate? I haven't read the thing myself, but have heard similar critiques centring on the idea that humans in LOTF are fundamentally bad and a repressive society the only way to counteract this; I'd argue that a novel about schoolboys surely cannot ever be that, as schoolchildren are already deeply socialised creatures (even one about infants would be tricky in this regard). Isn't it much more likely that Golding is showing up the societal values they've absorbed and are now trying to replicate?

Lord Of The Flies usually gets the "all kids are like this" treatment but it was only ever really a "English public school boys are like this" thing.

Again, don't want to get too deep in the weeds on this, not having read, but: I can certainly state from personal experience that English public school boys have no monopoly on bullying, sadism and a love of hierarchy.

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 30 March 2021 18:38 (two weeks ago) link

there is the jungle = primitive thing which is unfortunate

wasdnuos (abanana), Tuesday, 30 March 2021 19:06 (two weeks ago) link

Yes schoolchildren are already socialised but the insinuation is that once the rules and structures are removed they would regress very quickly to violent warring 'animals'. Which assumes that humans were that way before being saved by civilisation, naturally that way as a species, and not the co-operative, egalitarian people that plenty of evidence suggests they were

or something, Tuesday, 30 March 2021 19:38 (two weeks ago) link

Again, don't want to get too deep in the weeds on this, not having read, but: I can certainly state from personal experience that English public school boys have no monopoly on bullying, sadism and a love of hierarchy.
sure. but Golding wrote from a very specific repressed public school POV, and also in these grand metaphors which can easily be taken as "this is about all people" - no idea if this was his intention or not, all I can say is that his books were about the world he knew and its warped social dynamics. we studied The Spire at sixth form and it has all of this in common.

Bastard Lakes (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Tuesday, 30 March 2021 21:23 (two weeks ago) link

I was assigned both Nectar in a Sieve and The Sound of Waves in 9th grade, I mostly remember the former as very bleak but compelling and the latter as baffling, have been meaning to read more Mishima though.

Have a copy of I’m Not Stiller around that I should read as well.

Anyone have anything to say about the later Celine novels?

JoeStork, Tuesday, 30 March 2021 21:45 (two weeks ago) link

Which assumes that humans were that way before being saved by civilisation, naturally that way as a species, and not the co-operative, egalitarian people that plenty of evidence suggests they were

Those cooperative, egalitarian "uncivilized" communities are not populated solely by young boys. The group Lord of the Flies portrays has nothing in common with stable traditional societies and quite a bit in common with English public schoolboys whenever adults were removed from the scene. It is not a very convincing portrayal of any other known social grouping.

Judge Roi Behan (Aimless), Tuesday, 30 March 2021 22:17 (two weeks ago) link

I'm not saying they were. And I'm not saying that's what Golding intended the work to be about either, I've no idea what his intentions were. But I do believe it's presence on the curriculum for decades in English schools at least was one of the more transparent incremental reinforcements of the status quo that I can think of right now

or something, Tuesday, 30 March 2021 22:31 (two weeks ago) link

I'm interested in how it's taught in the USA, where presumably the UK public school context is less obvious

Bastard Lakes (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Tuesday, 30 March 2021 22:41 (two weeks ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Wednesday, 31 March 2021 00:01 (two weeks ago) link

Voting Story of O to stick it to E. L. James.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 31 March 2021 00:31 (two weeks ago) link

We should do a TS: Hobbes vs Rousseau some time.

xps

pomenitul, Wednesday, 31 March 2021 00:32 (two weeks ago) link

I don't think the supposed point of LOTF is that when rules are removed people regress to being 'animals'. The boys' saviour is a naval officer from a warship!

Zelda Zonk, Wednesday, 31 March 2021 00:45 (two weeks ago) link

Voting Story of O to stick it to E. L. James.

Françoise Hardy talks about interviewing the mysterious author in her autobio btw.

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 31 March 2021 10:14 (two weeks ago) link

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

System, Thursday, 1 April 2021 00:01 (two weeks ago) link

Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1955

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 1 April 2021 10:09 (two weeks ago) link

Nerd vote surprisingly directed towards Matheson! Still glad Fellowship got more votes than Two Towers.

Three votes for Story Of O more than I expected, too.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 1 April 2021 10:19 (two weeks ago) link

Normance by Louis-Ferdinand Céline
The Sound Of Waves by Yukio Mishima
The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir

Normance or Sound of Waves but didn't vote.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 1 April 2021 13:57 (two weeks ago) link

Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1955

koogs, Sunday, 4 April 2021 07:35 (one week ago) link

(oh, has been linked before. looked unfamiliar when i saw it in sna)

koogs, Sunday, 4 April 2021 07:36 (one week ago) link


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