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Sunday, October 12, 2003


The Observer publishes a "subjective" list of the top hundred novels of all time and invites us to write in and disagree with them. The effect is to bring on a yearning for the time when I had time to read literature rather than committee agendas and strategy papers. What is worse I have only read two of the top twenty five and seventeen of the hundred. Of course if I count novels I started but didn't finish such as "The Brothers' Karamazov" and "Ulysses", then I would be much nearer twenty per cent. This would go up significantly if I were allowed to include the film or TV adaptation. There are some strange choices however. Why, for example, put Conrad's "Nostromo" in there, but not "The Secret Agent" or "Heart of Darkness"? Why put "1984" in there but not "Animal Farm", especially as "Gulliver's Travels" is included? Oh, and how can anybody justfiy putting "Wind in the Willows" ahead of "The Rainbow", "The Trial", "Scoop", "1984" and "Catch 22", except through a sentimental yearning for one's youth?

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