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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

What do you believe is the greatest American novel of the twentieth century?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (30548points) February 5th, 2010

Moby Dick has been called the greatest American novel of the nineteenth century. Is there one novel you think deserves that title for the twentieth century?

Personally, I would vote for Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon.

What do you think?

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38 Answers

ETpro's avatar

I would nominate George Orwell’s 1984.

ETpro's avatar

Scratch that. It’s a British Novel. Sorry.Maybe Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy… Oops, British too. Well certainly something by Terry Pratchett. Oh, forget it. :-)

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@ETpro : lol.very funny. I thought you might try Ulysses by James Joyce. Oops… that’s Irish.

odali's avatar

I need to get my old highschool english teacher, shed know and could give you a list of about 300 amazing american books off the top of her head

Megan64's avatar

The Human Stain?

Megan64's avatar

To Kill a Mocking Bird?

Megan64's avatar

East of Eden?

Megan64's avatar

Slaughterhouse 5?

AstroChuck's avatar

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair because no book has ever had such an impact on labor practices in this country. This book dramatically changed things for the better in regards to safety and working conditions.

odali's avatar

oh man, was that not made into a movie as well? disgusting..

ETpro's avatar

@AstroChuck The Jungle brought the horrors of the US meat packing industry to public light as well, resulting in all the protections that kept our food supply safe till Republican deregulation gutted the FDA. They have now liad off 90% of the FDA food inspection staff and outsourced inspection to the industry itself. That’s why you are seeing such a spike in food borne illnesses.

trailsillustrated's avatar

of human bondage

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@trailsillustrated : Another British novel. lol.

trailsillustrated's avatar

everything about art, life, and war- my favourite book of all time—oops sorry I didn’t get the ‘american novel part ’—never mind

mammal's avatar

The Grapes of Wrath, In Cold Blood, On The Road

odali's avatar

thats weird i was just about to say grapes of wrath.

mammal's avatar

@odali not really, it’s an obvious and conventional choice, great book in my oppinion, American novels were kicking ass all over the 40’s and 50’s

mammal's avatar

Catch 22, Catcher in the rye, in fact anything that was catchy

iphigeneia's avatar

The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath

or

Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov

TheLoneMonk's avatar

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? ok…I’m kidding

Catcher in the Rye gets my vote.

Dilettante's avatar

In the words of my teacher and mentor, James Jones, author of “From Here to Eternity” “Some Came Running” many others; “The greatest novel you’ll ever read is the story of your own life.”

In all honesty, as a credentialed scholar in this field who has spent half a lifetime reading, explicating, enjoying and learning from great literature; I could not possibly name just one novel, or author, for that matter. I suppose that by the time others get through answering your question here, you’ll have a good list, judging from the ones so far.

By the way, novel titles are supposed to be underscored or italicized; but there’s no apparent way to do it here.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Dilettante : If you look under the “answer this question” box, you’ll see how to style the text you’re typing. One of those is italics.

Dilettante's avatar

Iphigeneia, get a little mirror and tape it to the top of your shoe; like I did in 7th grade..
Quite educational

Dilettante's avatar

Thanks Jake, now, how do I do the little thing like yours that makes it, @soandso?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Start by typing the “at” sign. A list of members who’ve participated in the thread should appear. If it doesn’t, delete the ”@” and type it again until the list appears. Use your mouse to choose the member you wish to address.

Welcome to the collective, by the way.

Dilettante's avatar

thx, got a phone call…back later

Dilettante's avatar

@hawaii_jake Hey, it worked! I’m an Information Technology Genius!

I’m trying the the other thing now, re text “style,” but it’s sporadic, keeps changing back. I’m using Chrome…going to switch to Firefox, probably that’s it. Thx again; one of my favorite axioms: “When all else fails, read the directions.”

katwalk65's avatar

“A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving

mammal's avatar

Is Bonfire of the Vanities any good? i thought the de Palma movie adaptation was superb. What a fantastic director.

katwalk65's avatar

I actually liked the book better than the movie on that one—Tom Wolfe really nailed the era, perfectly. But I enjoyed the movie, too.

AstroChuck's avatar

And let’s not forget My Pet Goat. The (ex) President couldn’t put it down.

katwalk65's avatar

The Bridge of Sighs

NicoleSochacki's avatar

Crying of Lot 49

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@NicoleSochacki : Of course, I am glad to see another Pynchon novel in this list.

Austinlad's avatar

The one I haven’t written yet. It’s stuck in my head.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

To Kill A Mockingbird.

bookish1's avatar

Toss-up between Bonfire of the Vanities and Naked Lunch, hahaha.

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