One Novel Stands Out, But Why?

What is it that makes a many-novel author become known mostly for one novel?

Maybe that book is their best, even though they’ve written a number of other good or great books. Maybe it’s because that most-known novel became famous partly because it was turned into a popular movie. Maybe the publisher marketed that one book more than the others. Maybe there’s no discernible reason.

I was thinking about all that last week when reading Fannie Flagg’s Standing in the Rainbow — a funny, sunny, sentimental, heartwarming novel that also seriously addresses sexism, racism, homophobia, infidelity, death, etc. And the 2002 book — which spans more than five decades of life in a small Missouri town — includes a drunk-with-power politician whose presidential campaign in some ways eerily presages the vile Donald Trump’s divisive White House run.

Flagg has also authored other excellent novels (several set in Alabama) — including A Redbird Christmas, Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, I Still Dream About You, and The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion. But when the general reader thinks of Flagg, what mostly comes to mind is Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe — which probably is the author’s best novel, and was made into a beloved major motion picture. Still, Flagg’s other books deserve to have much higher profiles.

Of course, Flagg’s fans know and love her novels, and the same can be said for the fans of other multi-book authors associated mostly with one novel.

Those other authors? Let me name just a few, in alphabetical order:

— Margaret Atwood’s most famous book by far is The Handmaid’s Tale, but she has also authored more than a dozen other superb novels — including Cat’s Eye, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin, and Oryx and Crake.

— Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop is that author’s book most assigned in high school and college courses, but she also wrote other compelling novels such as O Pioneers!, The Song of the Lark, and My Antonia.

— Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World far outstrips his other books in popularity, but his novels such as Antic Hay, Point Counter Point, and Island are well worth the read, too.

— Herman Melville is of course best known for Moby-Dick, but he penned a number of other fine novels such as Typee, Redburn, White-Jacket, Pierre, and Billy Budd. Plus the riveting short stories “Bartleby, the Scrivener” and “Benito Cereno” are almost long enough to be novellas.

— L.M. Montgomery is mostly associated with the memorable Anne of Green Gables, but she also attracted readers with compelling works such as the various Anne sequels, the Emily trilogy, and The Blue Castle.

Can you name other authors who wrote a number of very good novels yet are mostly known for just one of those books? Why the disproportionate focus on that one novel?

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area — unless you’re replying to someone else.)

I’ve finished and am now rewriting/polishing a book called Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Writers, but am still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as “Dear Abby” and Ann Landers, and other notables such as Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

115 thoughts on “One Novel Stands Out, But Why?

  1. I don’t know the exact reasons but some authors are mostly known for one novel even though they wrote others. Examples include Charlotte Bronte “Jane Eyre”, F. Scott Fitzgerald “The Great Gatsby”, and Erich Maria Remarque “All Quiet on the Western Front”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Anonymous! Three excellent examples. A number of the other novels by those authors are certainly quite good — including “Villette” by Bronte, “Tender Is the Night” by Fitzgerald, and “Arch of Triumph” by Remarque, to name just one by each writer.

      Correction made.


  2. Great post Dave. Just nipping on to say. Rushing about a bit today. I find it quite interesting how Orwell you say ..and Huxley wrote many other books. I like them and find them very readable but obvi they have not stood the same test of time in terms of their subject matter re standing out. Orwell is interesting to me that way cos growing up Animal Farm was the ..dare one say.. beast, the stand out, the lot Of course 1984 had not been reached as a date. Now it seems that is the beast. I wonder if it is also the subject matter here. Things he wrote of that are now happening whereas in Animal Farm they had happened. .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Some authors have but one good book in them, or one good turn in the limelight before the zeitgeist moves on without them.

    What makes the great ones great is that the great ones have more than one, and even occasionally, write no other kind.

    Me, I’m grateful to encounter good books, period, whether they have been produced in bunches or singly– there are, fortunately, so many more to go, I will never be without before I go under.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said! Very true that there are authors with one great book in them, and authors with multiple great books in them. And, yes, there are so many wonderful novels to read, or never have time to read, that it doesn’t really matter that some authors only have one great book in them.


  4. Let me throw one more possibly ‘has-been’ writer into the discussion–John Fowles. This British author is probably known more as simply the author of a few novels that were made into films: ‘The Collector’, ‘The Magus’ and ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’. He’s another one that was not terribly prolific, only writing about three or four more novels beyond those (‘The Ebony Tower’–novella and stories, ‘Daniel Martin’, ‘A Maggot’) and my own awareness of him was increased by exposure to my first wife’s literary taste. I need to revisit him someday but I think those are all worth reading. ‘French Lieutenant’s Woman’ in particular is one of those attempts by a modern writer to write a Victorian novel from a 20th century vantage point with a contemporary sensibility. Michel Faber did something similar about ten years ago with ‘The Crimson Petal and the White’. ‘FLW’ also has two endings, so there’s a bit of post-modern metafiction going on there as well. He’s not out of print (I bought most of those for my Kindle earlier this year) but he’s never mentioned in most literary discussions that I’m aware of.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bobess48, I appreciate the info and thoughts about John Fowles! An author who has been on my to-read list (but not super-high on that list) since a person or two recommended him on Huffington Post a few years ago. From your excellent description, “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” does sound very interesting. And, if I’m remembering correctly, those HP commenters highly recommended “The Magus.”


  5. I thought of an author who is mostly out of print at this point but in the 70’s/early 80’s was pretty highly regarded–John Gardner. I’m not talking about the British spy novelist who took over the James Bond series for a few years but the American academic who was a medieval scholar. He was not extremely prolific but he wrote quite a bit of fiction as well as non-fiction. The novel that might still be in print is ‘Grendel’, his retelling of the Beowulf tale from the monster’s point of view. However, he also wrote a magnum opus, ‘The Sunlight Dialogues’, that I’ve never read although it was on my ‘to-be-read’ list for several years. Aside from that, he also wrote ‘The Wreckage of Agathon’, ‘Nickel Mountain’, ‘October Light’ and his last, ‘Mickelssohn’s Ghosts’. He was hard living as well as hard writing and died in a motorcycle crash in 1982, I believe. Any of those ring a bell to anyone? Again, like Anthony Burgess, he raised a critical buzz for a few years but then passed into obscurity. Actually, I think a few of his books on writing are still in print. As I said, he was an English professor and a creative writing teacher so, unsurprisingly, his books on writing are like sessions in a class. When I had high ambitions to be a novelist myself I read at least a couple of those, in addition to ‘Grendel’ and perhaps one other–‘Nickel Mountain’, I believe. Anyway, I think it’s a bit odd that someone who seemed to draw a lot of critical attention at the time is now mostly forgotten. Will this be the destination for Jonathan Franzen in a few decades? Or any other critical hotshot?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, bobess48! I’ve never read John Gardner’s work, but the one book of his you mentioned that I’ve heard of is “Grendel.” I haven’t read it, but I think my older daughter might have had it assigned in high school. Interesting niche of novels that tell a familiar story from another point of view — Margaret Atwood’s “The Penelopiad” (female perspective on “The Odyssey”) and Jean Rhys’ “Wide Sargasso Sea” (focusing on Rochester’s first wife pre-“Jane Eyre”) are two other examples.

      Yes, who will be the next authors to drop precipitously in the public consciousness? When one looks at a list of fiction writers who won the Pulitzer Prize between 1918 and 1947, some of the names are now virtually forgotten — Ernest Poole, Margaret Wilson, Louis Bromfield, Julia Peterkin, Oliver Lafarge, Margaret Ayer Barnes, Caroline Miller, Ellen Glasgow, Martin Flavin…


  6. Today my Yoga teacher read this poem Dave, thought to share

    As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering
    are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth.
    Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

    As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody
    As I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time
    was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this
    person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.

    As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life,
    and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow.
    Today I call it “MATURITY”.

    As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance,
    I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens
    at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm.
    Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

    As I began to love myself I quit steeling my own time,
    and I stopped designing huge projects for the future.
    Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do
    and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in
    my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

    As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for
    my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew
    me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude
    a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

    As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since
    I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

    As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry
    about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where EVERYTHING
    is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

    As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me
    and it can make me sick. But As I connected it to my heart, my
    mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this
    connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

    We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems
    with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing
    new worlds are born.Today I know THAT IS “LIFE”!

    ~ Charlie Chaplin

    Liked by 1 person

    • A LOT of wisdom there, bebe. Thank you very much for sharing the poem (and the great image)! I didn’t realize Charlie Chaplin was THAT eloquent, but I should have. Some of his movies were sublime, and he was even a songwriter — I remember Petula Clark singing “This Is My Song,” written by Chaplin. Too bad the U.S. blacklisted him during the McCarthy era for his liberal views. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • I did not know that either Dave..and as I looked for this poem today i saw a lot of eloquent quotes by Mr. Chaplin.
        US then and now….and I need to learn not to open my mouth so much. Again in Kroger a woman proudly wearing a Trump shirt and started saying she is not afraid to wear that and she likes Trump `cause he is not afraid of anything. I say…go for it then even though he lies all the time.
        She snapped I know a crap when I see one.
        I go to my cleaners and that place has become regional Trump headquarters. The owner is running for something…so I joked to Chance one employee., , can I still come even I am not voting for any of these guys ?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sorry you’re running into some Trump supporters, bebe. 😦

          Yes, Trump lies all the time — and he’s afraid of plenty. Heck, he basically dodged the draft during the Vietnam War era with some bogus physical condition even though he brags about how allegedly “perfect” his health is.

          Still amazes me that any woman (or almost anyone of either gender) could support Trump. I guess I’m living in a bit of bubble — very few Trump supporters in my New Jersey town.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I am astounded Dave..suddenly to see posters here and there anyways my husband got upset with me telling I better shut up otherwise I might be in deep trouble. These are totally different sort of you see in rallies.

            Anyways I just started reading ” Charcoal Joe” , if you have not read any Mosley crime fiction you might just start with this latest one. Very different kind of writings and surroundings.

            Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t understand these kinds of people. We have a politician here (fortunately without any real power) who is CONVINCED that with her hatred and fear she speaks for all white Australians. She seems to fully believe that we’re all terrified of Muslims, and just too afraid to speak up, so she’s doing it for us. Her racism and bigotry was already pretty off-putting, but to go so far as to tell me that I feel the same way, and she’s doing me a favour… it’s just so offensive.

          Liked by 2 people

      • Chaplin bought back his early shorts in the 1930’s and repackaged them, usually three at a time, into feature films– that’s often how we see them today. He composed the accompanying music for all, with the help of a man who could read and write music, as Chaplin could not. “Smile” is his most famous song– he wrote the music.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Dave, Walter Mosley known for his crime fiction has written more than 40 Novels and non fictions . His first book was ” Devil in a Blue Dress ” the protagonist Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins was World War II veteran who has been unfairly laid off . Then he decides to become a private investigator to pay the mortgage, despite having no training.

    Mosley became a household name when Bill Clinton in 90` s named him as one of his favorite author. Then the movie was released starring Denzel Washington and became an instant hit. Loved the book and the movie.

    Just yesterday I borrowed his latest ” Charcoal Joe” , another Easy Rawlings mystery.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Anthony Burgess is most famous for his novel “A Clockwork Orange”, and until just recently I was not familiar with any other novel written by him. I really enjoyed this novel when I read it in my young adulthood, and it is one of the few books that I’ve read more than once. On a fairly recent trip to a used-book sale, I discovered a book called “The Kingdom of the Wicked” by Burgess, and I thought — hey, since I liked “A Clockwork Orange” so much, I’d give this novel, which I’d never heard of, a read.

    It was really quite different in content and style from ACO, but I was captivated with it. It is a historical fiction novel that follows the Apostle Paul, while at the same time, explores the goings on in Rome under Emperor Nero.

    It turns out the Burgess was pretty prolific, publishing well over 20 novels. A friend of mine recommended a novel by him titled “Napoleon Symphony: A Novel In Four Movements”. Apparently, it is another work of historical fiction following Napoleon Bonaparte’s life. The “Four Movements” refers to Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony, commonly referred to as the “Eroica” Symphony. (Eroica is translated to English as “Heroic”). When Beethoven first began composing the 3rd, it was originally dedicated to his hero – Napoleon, but while he was composing it, Napoleon proclaimed himself Emperor, and Beethoven became very angry and disenchanted, and ripped up the dedication. Anyway, the four “movements” of the novel follow the structure of the four movements of the symphony (according to Wikipedia). I am familiar with the 3rd Symphony, but I’m not sure what this means, but am excited to find out by reading the novel. It sounds like it may combine the historical fiction aspect of “Kingdom” with the experimental style of “Clockwork”.

    It turns out that Burgess is an accomplished classical musician and composer himself, so I assume it will be interesting to read how this concept pans out. It’s interesting that Beethoven’s 5th Symphony played such an important role in “A Clockwork Orange”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent example, drb! I just looked at Anthony Burgess’ lengthy bibliography, and “A Clockwork Orange” is indeed by far the most known title. I agree — quite a book, and quite a movie, too.

      I put “The Kingdom of the Wicked” on my list. And I found your description of “Napoleon Symphony: A Novel In Four Movements” fascinating. I had no idea about that Beethoven-Napoleon “connection.” I also didn’t know about Burgess’s musical abilities, but I guess it’s not a surprise given the content of at least a couple of his novels.

      Great comment!


      • I believe Burgess was a musician and composer before he started writing novels. He was already prolific but in the early 60’s he was told he had an inoperable brain tumor (?) and had about a year to live. He got to work and wrote three or four novels in that year, one of which was ‘Clockwork Orange’, apparently to provide something for his wife in royalties after he was gone. It turned out to be a false alarm but he had three or four novels to show for it and hardly slowed his pace over the next 30-40 years, writing tons of non-fiction work (mostly literary criticism). He was a big fan of James Joyce (pretty obvious when you read ‘Clockwork Orange’) and bore his influence in his linguistically complex novels. Among the works of criticism was one called ‘A Shorter Finnegan’s Wake’ or something to that effect. He also wrote a few screenplays, including the TV film directed by Franco Zefferelli, ‘Jesus of Nazareth’. He also covered several genres, including dystopian fiction, spy thrillers, social satire, etc. He was also a fan of Jonathan Swift. Out of all of that output, however, he was dismayed to find that he was still only remembered as the author of ‘Clockwork Orange’, which he never considered one of his best works.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I have not read Burgess except for A Clockwork Orange, and The Wanting Seed, a book set in a rather depressing future, which when I read it in my late teens, impressed me as thought-provoking, even profound. Read it?

      I shall be on the lookout for Kingdom of the Wicked.

      Liked by 1 person

        • I’ve read more Anthony Burgess than I thought I had, partly due to the fact that a guy I knew in college raved about him and partly due to the ‘Clockwork Orange’ attention.

          In addition to ‘Clockwork Orange’ I’ve read:

          The Wanting Seed (I don’t remember much about it at all as I read it around 40 years ago and haven’t thought about it much since); I know I thought it was pretty good.

          ‘Nothing Like the Sun’ – his novel about Shakespeare, which I recall loving. For one thing, he really basked in the linguistic word play while also trying to get inside the head of the master English stylist Shakespeare so I suppose he had to aim pretty high and verbal acrobatics.

          ‘Shakespeare’ – this is the straight non-fiction, capsule bio counterpart of ‘Nothing Like the Sun’–interesting, informative, but basically just the facts (what there are or were of them).

          ‘The Eve of St. Venus’ – don’t remember much; not tremendously impressed as I recall.

          ‘The Doctor is Sick’ – a fever dream of a novel, inspired by his own brain tumor experience I assume–basically a surreal paranoid fantasy. I think this may have been one of the four novels he wrote the year of his medical death sentence. I think the four novels he wrote that year are, in addition to ‘Clockwork Orange’–this, ‘The Wanting Seed’ and ‘Honey for the Bears’.

          ;Earthly Powers’ – a big novel about the Catholic Church, as I recall, a family in which one member is a Mafia don, another a high pontiff at the Vatican, not quite up to Pope level but pretty high up there. I remember liking it a fair amount. It’s also the one I read most recently (about 22 years ago).

          I always planned to read ‘Napoleon Symphony’ next but never got around to it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • You HAVE read a lot of Burgess, bobess48. Thanks for the excellent thumbnails of those six books!

            A person can do a lot when they think they’re going to die soon. One of the reasons I’m a big fan of L.M. Montgomery’s “The Blue Castle” novel (mentioned in my column) is that the protagonist is given a medical death sentence and suddenly/amazingly turns her drab/put-upon life into something fabulous.


        • I have not. :A Clockwork Orange” and “Kingdom of the Wicked” are the only ones I’ve read to date. However, this thread is getting me excited to explore more of Burgess’s work.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. A good question, Dave. I’d like to add Sue Monk Kid – The Secret Life of Bees, Amy Tan – The Joy Luck Club, Alice Walker – The Color Purple, Robert Heinlein – Stranger in a Strange Land. They all had several other books of note, but those are the ones people remember.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, energywriter! Terrific examples!

      I guess Amy Tan (with “The Kitchen God’s Wife,” etc.) and Heinlein (with “Starship Troopers,” “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress,” etc.) had some strong “runners-up” in the public consciousness, but “The Joy Luck Club” and “Stranger in a Strange Land” were indeed the most famous novels by a large margin.


  10. I read, several months ago in New York Magazine, a piece on Patricia Highsmith in tandem to the release of a film called “Carol.” which was to be critically praised. No surprise with an excellent actress like Cate Blanchet in the title role. Her second novel “The Price of Salt” was adapted into this film. Her more familiar novel, though, was “The Talented Mr. Ripley” which came out in 1955. It was also made into a film starring Matt Damon. Highsmith’s first novel was called “Strangers On A Train” which was adapted into a first rate film by Alfred Hitchcock which I have seen a few times. A must see for the carousel seen stand alone. Classic Hitchcock frenzy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Michele! I’ve never read Patricia Highsmith — seems like I should! I’m certainly impressed with the number of film adaptations of her work, from what you and Wikipedia (I just checked) say. There was a period of my life where I saw many old movies at the old Thalia theater on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and about two-dozen of those films were Hitchcock ones — including “Strangers on a Train.”


      • Nice to think of you wandering about my neighborhood and seeing movies at the Thalia, which is still there, sorta. I enjoyed seeing many films for the first time therein, most memorably an UFA film titled Siegfried by Fritz Lang– I can still see Fofnar the dragon’s head raising up slowly (and rather obviously by means of wire) to face his killer….

        There were some oldish and obviously staff-made items in the concession area sometimes, if I remember correctly ( there’s a chance I’m conflating my experiences with the tiny cinema at Carnegie Hall), but of these I never partook, because there was also an irreducible smell, faint but ubiquitous, hanging around the premises, that did not inspire appetite in me.


        Liked by 1 person

        • In the late ’70s and early ’80s, I lived on W. 98th (betw. Broadway and West End) and then W. 102nd (betw. West End and Riverside), so the Thalia was an easy walk to see a double feature. So many great films shown there, along with some cult classics.

          I don’t remember eating anything at that theater, which, from what you said, was probably a wise decision. 🙂 I do remember the floor being uneven or slanted or uphill toward the screen or something.

          It DOES seems like that place still exists in some form, from what I see online.


  11. Hi again Dave,

    I hope you don’t mind me sharing some silly little literary stories that happened to me today? I was talking to a girl that I work with about dystopian fiction, and asked if she’d read “1984”. As she hadn’t, I told her I was happy to lend it to her. We kept chatting, and at one point she mentioned that she’d never read a book that old. I said it’s not THAT old, and she said well Orwell’s dead, so that’s old to her. The oldest novel she’d previously read was “The Power of One”, published in 1989, only a year after she was born! I couldn’t help but giggle, and I hope she didn’t think I was laughing at her, but I thought it was cute that a book published in the last 30 years could be considered old.

    Reading an online message board about a local book group, someone suggested “Jane Eyre” as the next book to read. A fellow commenter then asked which book by Jane Eyre? Maybe I’m sleep deprived, but I thought that was hilarious!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, Sue! What a fascinating couple of stories!

      I also know some people who only or mostly read relatively contemporary fiction. But for a reader to consider Orwell’s “1984” very old, and to not to have read a book published before 1989, is astounding. Dang — why couldn’t Jane Austen have put off dying until 1990? She’d have only been 215, and could have written “Pride and Prejudice” on an early computer. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single scribe in possession of a good plot line must be in want of a Mac.”

      I loved Jane Eyre’s novel “Charlotte Bronte.” 🙂


      • I don’t think my colleague is a huge reader, which is obviously fine. I was hesitant to lend “1984” to her, thinking that it may have been too cerebral, without enough zombies or werewolves, or whatever the kids are reading today, but she seems to have embraced it, so good for her! But I don’t consider 19th century literature to be really old, so I just didn’t know how to respond. One of the first books I fell in love with was “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” so I’ve always read books older than I am.

        I love the idea of “Pride, Prejudice, and iPhones”! It is really quite selfish that these 19th century novelists died when they did. If they’d found the secret to immortality, we could have greatness like “The Kardashian of Monte Cristo”!

        Liked by 1 person

          • Susan, your mentioning Charlotte Bronte makes me wonder if she kept that last name in everyday life when she married during the last year of her life. Her widower survived her by 51 years!!! (To 1906.)


        • “Pride, Prejudice, and iPhones”…”The Kardashian of Monte Cristo” — SO funny, Susan! To which I humbly add this Poe classic: “The FitBit and the Pendulum.”

          Great that your colleague is appreciating “1984.” It IS a riveting, very readable novel — albeit mostly depressing.

          I also love novels older than I am, not only because some of them are total classics, but because it’s fascinating to see how people lived their lives in “the olden days.”


  12. Hi Dave,

    I think that the subject of last week’s essay could also fit in here. Stephen King is obviously known as a horror author. Mention SK to anyone, and they’ll undoubtedly say they’ve read (or seen) “Carrie”, “Salem’s Lot”, “Pet Sematary”, “Cujo”, etc. But King has done so much more than just horror including novels like “Insomnia”, “Gerald’s Game”, “From a Buick 8”, “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon”, as well as writing dozens of short stories. AND there’s his epic “Dark Tower” series which are my favourite science fantasy books of all time.

    “Lolita” was mentioned below and while it is the only Nabokov I’ve currently read (“Pale Fire” is on my list), I’m not sure that the book is anywhere near as well known as what Lolita has become to pop culture. While reading the novel, I was shocked at just how young the female character was. Not a sexy, pouty 16-year old ready to be seduced, but a little girl. Not much more than a child really. And after thinking about “Lolita” I thought about “1984”. Not two novels that you’d usually put side by side, but I think a similar thing happened to Big Brother. It’s become an every day phrase that doesn’t always have a lot to do with the Orwell novel. Especially after it was used as the title of that ridiculous ‘reality’ TV franchise.

    Oscar Wilde has already been mentioned, and while I did enjoy “The Portrait of Dorian Gray” my favourite of Wilde is by far his short story “Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime”. I wish I knew more people who had read it as I love talking about it!

    The other author that I thought of this week is C.S. Lewis. Obviously known for his creation of Narnia, Lewis also wrote a pretty good science fiction series called “The Cosmic Trilogy”. He’s also written a heap of non fiction stuff that I’d eventually like to get around to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, Sue. Stephen King has written a LOT more than just horror, yet there must indeed be some fans of his that mostly know him for his horror work.

      Yes, some novels have become such cultural/pop-cultural symbols that the book itself can be a bit dwarfed. As you noted, “Lolita” and “1984” are excellent examples of that. Perhaps also novels such as “Don Quixote,” “Robinson Crusoe,” and “Catch-22,” to name a few.

      Speaking of Big Brother, there’s a Lionel Shriver novel of that name starring a brother who’s big (overweight). 🙂

      The totally bizarre “Pale Fire” is definitely worth a read.

      And thanks for the mentions and thoughts about “Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime” and C.S. Lewis! I put the Wilde story on my list!


      • Oops, ‘last week’ should obviously have been the week before. Didn’t mean to dismiss an entire week of comments!

        Of the other books that you mentioned, “Catch-22” is the only one that I’ve read. I love that it’s become an everyday phrase. But I think it pretty much means what it meant in the book. I’m not sure the same can be said for Big Brother. BTW, I like the idea of Big Brother being fat!

        I am looking forward to “Pale Fire” but there are SO many books between now and then 😦

        I look forward to hearing what you think of that Wilde short story 🙂

        Dave, you may recall that I recently mentioned a collection of short horror / mystery stories. Last night I started the story written by Daphne du Maurier, which of course got me thinking about “Rebecca”. I only read “Rebecca” for the first time a year or two ago, but of course had heard about it long before then. Due to its brilliance, I put du Maurier on my list as an author that I need to know more about. She apparently wrote a lot more than just “Rebecca”, however I think it’s what she’s best known for?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks, Susan! A novel spawning an everyday phrase must be a pretty heady experience for an author. And “Catch-22” writer Joseph Heller could have been among the authors I mentioned in my post for having one novel much more famous than their other novels. I guess “Something Happened” is a distant second in renown among Heller’s seven novels.

          Ooh…I found “Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime” online ( So I can read it that way when I get a chance. 🙂

          I think you’re right about Daphne du Maurier being most known for “Rebecca,” but I thought her novels “The House on the Strand” and “My Cousin Rachel” were excellent, too. And her short story “The Birds” became ultra-famous via the Hitchcock movie.


          • I had NO idea that du Maurier wrote “The Birds”! I really do need to explore her further.

            I never would have thought to include Joseph Heller in this post, as he only wrote one book. Right? No? Then I guess that it is a perfect inclusion, and another author I’d like to explore. I loved “Catch-22”, so a distant second would still be pretty good.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Susan, I haven’t read a lot of du Maurier, but what I have read was well worth it. “The House on the Strand” is a very original time-travel novel, and “My Cousin Rachel” really leaves the reader guessing whether Rachel means well or is evil.

              I must admit that though I knew that piece of trivia about “The Birds” film being based on a du Maurier story, I haven’t watched or read either! Her “Jamaica Inn” novel was made into a (lesser-known) Hitchcock movie.

              “Catch-22” is also the only Heller novel I’ve read, so I can’t say what his other books are like. But “Something Happened” is a familiar title to me.


              • I read ‘Something Happened’ and, while it’s not as memorable as ‘Catch-22’, I think it was worth reading. He also wrote ‘Good as Gold’, ‘God Knows’, ‘Picture This’, ‘Closing Time’, which is a sequel of sorts to ‘Catch-22’ as it deals with Yossarian later in his life and, from what I gather, includes appearances by a few of the other ‘Catch-22’ characters, and ‘Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man’. There’s also a collection of stories and other writings called ‘Catch as Catch Can’ and a couple of autobiographical pieces, ‘Now and Then’ and ‘No Laughing Matter’. He also wrote a play, ‘We Bombed in New Haven’, and adaptation of ‘Catch-22’ for the stage, plus another play, ‘Clevinger’s Trial’. Then there’s his screenplay work on ‘Sex and the Single Girl’, ‘Casino Royale’ (the 60’s parody, not the later one) and ‘Dirty Dingus Magee’. Not a huge output, but still he didn’t just sit around collecting royalties all those decades. He admitted that he was a very slow writer though, so it’s a small output for a fellow from the WW II generation that lived until 1999.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Thank you, bobess48, for all that information about Joseph Heller’s canon! Yes, not a huge output, but not a tiny output, either.

                  It’s poignant seeing iconic characters later in life. Another example of that was the last “Three Musketeers” sequel, in which the formerly swashbuckling Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d’Artagnan are much older.

                  By the way, I just started “Mrs. Bridge” today. REALLY good so far; thanks for recommending it! A very sobering look at a patriarchal family of sixty (?) or so years ago.


                  • Actually, farther back than 60 years. It starts during the first FDR administration in the early 30’s. Actually, the background is earlier than that but the meat of both novels occurs probably between the early 30’s and the early 40’s, right after the U.S. entered WW II. I’m 61 and I was born in 1955 so I would say more like 70 years ago at least.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Thanks, bobess48! I’m very early in the novel, and hadn’t seen a date or historical marker mentioned yet. So I somehow assumed the book was set in the decade it was published (1950s — 1959, to be exact). Silly assumption on my part. 🙂


                    • I just saw my first historical marker in the book — definitely the 1930s at the moment.

                      The Mrs. Bridge character is scarily (and kind of poignantly) conformist and “proper,” with author Evan Connell scarily skillful in quietly satirizing that and being appalled by that.


  13. Hi Dave, I’ll go with my favorite author once again — Jane Austen. While most people are acquainted with some, if not all, of her six novels, I think that of them all “Pride & Prejudice” is the most well-known, most beloved and considered as her best. While all of her novels have been made into movies and BBC or A&E productions for television, the most popular is probably the A&E “Pride & Prejudice” series starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy (there can’t be many women who didn’t swoon seeing Darcy diving into the lake and arriving at Pemberley in a wet shirt, something that didn’t happen in the book!). Even the late, great P.D. James wrote a mystery starring the married Elizabeth and Darcy in “Death Comes to Pemberley.”
    However, as we have discussed many times before, there is something to be said about her novel “Persuasion” as being her best work. Perhaps it is the maturity of both Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth that is so appealing and interesting. If you’ve never seen the movie starring Amanda Root and Ciarin Hinds as the two protagonists, not to mention Corin Redgrave as the unspeakable Sir Walter Elliot, you might want to watch it if you can. It’s my favorite of all of the Austen movies, though I’ve enjoyed them all.

    By the way, did I actually just use the word “swoon”?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kat Lib, always happy to have Jane Austen mentioned. 🙂 “Pride and Prejudice” is definitely her best-known novel, in of itself and via its various screen versions. And you’re right that many people consider it her best book, though, as you mentioned, a strong argument can be made for “Persuasion” being the top Austen work (it’s my favorite) — even though it’s not quite as…not sure of the word…complex (?), multilayered (?) as “Pride and Prejudice.” But, yes, the maturity of the two main “Persuasion” characters is VERY appealing.

      Of course, “Emma” also has many loyal fans, though I have mixed feelings about that book.

      Great comment — including the “swoon” moment. 🙂


      • Dave, I’ve been somewhat quieter this week than others. I did see this quote from a reviewer of “Bridget Jones’ Baby,” although I’ve only seen the first two movies and not read the books. I just thought the comment was pertinent to what we’ve discussed: “This is very much a new Bridget for a new era. And it’s intriguing that the dilemma of “Bridget Jones’s Baby” is one that feels appropriately suited to midlife. It’s not about dating cads or nice guys any more. It’s about what, at this point, still looks like hope. If “Diary” was a riff on “Pride and Prejudice,” “Baby” is Jane Austen’s “Persuasion,” a meditation on growing older, about letting go of the past and maybe getting second chances.” (Mary Elizabeth Williams,
        Anyway, I’ve been consumed this week by taking care of my new dog, Willow, and watching as they dug up my front lawn in order to replace not just the sewer line but the water line as well. I was without water for a day and a half. This reminds me how lucky I am to live in a country where this is just an inconvenience, not just the normal state of affairs.

        Liked by 1 person

        • VERY pertinent, Kat Lib! Mentioning the very two Austen novels we mentioned. 🙂 Interesting that “Persuasion” and “Pride and Prejudice” are sort of shorthand for maturity and for…not as mature. (I’ve never read any of the “Bridget Jones” books or seen the movies.)

          Sorry about your water situation. Yes, just a temporary inconvenience, but a MAJOR temporary inconvenience. Hopefully you’ll soon have a long stretch of no house-related issues. And I hope your dog is doing great!


  14. Howdy, Dave!

    — Can you name other authors who wrote a number of very good novels yet are mostly known for just one of those books? Why the disproportionate focus on that one novel? —

    Ken Kesey’s byline appears in association with at least five novels, but I personally attribute just three of them to Kesey qua Kesey: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Sometimes a Great Notion” and “Sailor Song.” (I have read the former two, which I love, and I have not read the latter one, which I suspect is also terrific.) Accordingly, the author may not be the best candidate for discussion in this context. However, I will give him a shot, anyway.

    Clearly, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” shines brightest among the stars of the Keseyian firmament in terms of popularity, but, also clearly, “Sometimes a Great Notion” is at the very minimum the equal of its older sibling in terms of artistic achievement.

    I don’t know why two novels of such similar genius should be accorded such different treatment, but I have a couple of hypotheses: The more superficial centers on the Hollywood films based on the books, and the less superficial centers on the controlling metaphors of the books themselves.

    Concerning the first hypothesis, the movie version of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was directed by Milos Forman, who previously had helmed at least 10 productions and, by almost all accounts, did an excellent job of putting it all together in this case, even though Kesey himself famously was not fond of the result. In contrast, the movie version of “Sometimes a Great Notion,” also known as “Never Give an Inch,” was directed by Paul Newman, who previously had helmed only one production and, again by almost all accounts, did not do an excellent job in putting it all together in this case, which is pretty understandable given the troubled history of this cinematic attempt.

    Concerning the second hypothesis, Kesey in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” finely focused on the arbitrary line between sanity and insanity in a way that American readers in the 1960s would have found especially apt, given their awful familiarity with the so-called socially patterned defects not only of Nazi Germany that in part led to the horrors of World War II but also of the Red-Scared U.S. that in part led to the horrors of first the Korean War and then the Vietnam War. In contrast, the quintessential scribe of the U.S. Pacific Northwest in “Sometimes a Great Notion” appeared marginally less concerned with the relationship between Man and Man and marginally more concerned with the relationship between Man and Nature, as exemplified by the divine aspects of water: The rain giveth, and the rain taketh away. Thus, the disparity in popularity between the two novels might be attributable largely to the facts “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is of its time and its place while “Sometimes a Great Notion” is of all times and all places.

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Outstanding mini-essay, J.J.! Thank you!

      Great point (among other great points) that some novels become very high-profile because they’re sorta “of their time.” Or, to use a fancy word, they fit the zeitgeist — and maybe help create that zeitgeist. “Slaughterhouse-Five” (mentioned elsewhere in this comments section) also was of its 1960s time (despite being partly set in WWII), as was the early-’60s “Catch-22.” The absurdity of war and all that.

      And, yes, the arbitrary line between sanity and insanity — at times determined/demarcated by the powers that be in any given society.

      Also, an excellent observation by you about how not only a movie version can affect the way a novel is regarded, but the quality of the movie version. The experienced director and fantastic cast associated with the “One Flew…” film made a BIG difference.

      Will try to get to “Sometimes a Great Notion” in the not-too-distant future!


      • — Outstanding mini-essay, J.J.! —

        Personally, I would have liked this comment better without at least two typographical errors. (1) In the first sentence of my third graf, the copy should have read: “I don’t know why two novels of such similar genius should be accorded such different treatment . . .” (2) In the third sentence of my fifth graf, the copy should have read: “Thus, the disparity in popularity between the two novels . . .” You can be assured both the copy editor and the proofreader have been sacked.

        — Great point (among other great points) that some novels become very high-profile because they’re sorta “of their time.” Or, to use a fancy word, they fit the zeitgeist —

        The “American Zeitgeist of the 1960s” was the construction I employed in my mental draft of this comment, but I felt I was going too, too Teutonic, given my implicit reference to the Frankfurt am Main-born Erich Fromm, who popularized the concept of the socially patterned defect in “The Sane Society,” and my explicit reference to Nazi Germany in the same passage.

        — Also, an excellent observation by you about how not only a movie version can affect the way a novel is regarded, but the quality of the movie version. The experienced director and fantastic cast associated with the “One Flew…” film made a BIG difference. —

        Obviously, I agree about the films’ directors; unobviously, I disagree about their casts. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” has Louise Fletcher, Jack Nicholson, Scatman Crothers, Brad Dourif and Christopher Lloyd while “Sometimes a Great Notion” has Henry Fonda, Paul Newman, Richard Jaeckel, Lee Remick and Michael Sarrazin. I like the likes of ’em all.

        — Will try to get to “Sometimes a Great Notion” in the not-too-distant future! —

        As I commented on one of your blog posts a couple of years ago: “I once calculated about 12.50 percent of Kesey’s second-greatest work was dedicated to observations of precipitation in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, which I later learned was about the equivalent proportion devoted to the same subject by other PNW-based writers whose streams of consciousness were more likely to be dammed than to flow, in comparison with that of the creator of Stamper World, where, as I may have mentioned, it rains a lot.” Therefore, you may wish to wear a sou’wester hat, an oilskin duster and hip waders while reading this book.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks, J.J.! I revised those two lines (I hope correctly). So you can rehire the copy editor and proofreader!

          Yes, words like “zeitgeist” should be used sparingly — a lesson I constantly remind myself of. 🙂

          Oops — I should have checked who was in the film version of “Sometimes a Great Notion” before I made my previous comment. That’s a terrific cast, too.

          And — LOL! — I will dress accordingly when I have the notion to read “Notion.”


  15. Oscar Wilde with his philosophical Novel ” The Picture of Dorian Gray “. The only Novel written by Mr. Wilde who was as an Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet. He was London`s most popular playwrights in 19th century. The book was published in several versions , initially published in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine but the editor deleted 500 words without the writers knowledge thinking to be indecent.
    A brilliant student with successful intellectual Parents of fame and fortune , Oscar Wilde died very early age being a destitute.
    But today after more than a century later Oscar Wile is the Pride of Ireland and from the city of Dublin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, bebe! Yes, the iconic “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is definitely the best-known work of Wilde’s that’s not a play. And, actually, probably more famous than his most famous play: “The Importance of Being Earnest.” As we’ve discussed, I’m also a big fan of Wilde’s short story “The Canterville Ghost,” but that’s lesser known than the other two works.

      If I’m remembering right, you once posted a photo of this great, whimsical Wilde statue in Dublin?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes Dave you remembered, that was in the park in Dublin on a very large hill of a stone, with a smirk in his face and a pipe in his hand. Right across the street is his large House from where he wrote most of his work. We stayed in a hotel two doors down.
        Cross the street on another angle is a museum. Then walking down is the university of Dublin. Further down is the large well known shopping area of Dublin.
        What I loved of the city is the constant flow of people all walking briskly either to work or for something else and such a friendly town.

        Then Bram Stoker another celebrated Irish author best known for ” Dracula” his Gothic fiction.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for posting that photo, bebe! I’d love to visit Dublin one day. (I’m also a big fan of the band U2, which is from there.) Sounds like the Wilde statue is in a great area of that city.

          “Dracula” is an excellent novel. One that spawned so many movies… 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  16. Lolita. Perhaps not in the literary world, but the book, combined with the films and the Lolita concept in pop culture/society, overshadows Nabokov’s other work. Granting the limits of numbers as a measurement of things cultural, Lolita’s current Amazon rank is about 1,700; Pale Fire’s is around 15,000. Speak, Memory is around 39,000, Despair 34,000 (was surprised by Despair’s place relative to Speak, Memory). Also Lolita has 1,200 reviews, Pale fire 180. Of course numbers alone can only provide a framework, particularly when the cultural impact of Lolita, direct and indirect, can’t remotely be measured, but there you go. I’d also wager that Pale Fire might act as a firewall—readers wanting to explore his other stuff might logically go there next, and its complexity might, in theory, end further exploration, when his other stuff is more accessible while still brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And a brilliant comment. Thanks, damoneramone! “Lolita” is definitely a great example of an author’s work that has a much higher profile than his or her other work. And, yes, “Pale Fire” can definitely stop a reader from trying a third Nabokov novel! “Pale Fire” IS complex — quite a challenge to read, with the unusual structure, the poetry, and the sheer distaste we often feel for the protagonist — but it’s a very original, tour de force of a book that’s also often incredibly funny.

      In one list — the Modern Library’s 100 best novels published in English since 1900 — “Lolita” ranks fourth and “Pale Fire” 53rd.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is most well known for “Slaughterhouse Five,” but he has a dozen or so other books (“Breakfast of Champions,” “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” and others) that are worthy. The one book of his I had a chance to review I had to pan. It was “Deadeye Dick,” and later Vonnegut himself admitted it sort of sucked.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent example, Bill! Some of Vonnegut’s non-“Slaughterhouse-Five” works are fairly famous, but “S-F” is definitely that author’s alpha book. I read it for the first time just a year or two ago, and it IS a memorable novel. (“S-F” could also stand for that book’s Sci-Fi elements.)


      • Actually, I loved ‘Deadeye Dick’. I personally prefer it to many of the earlier Vonnegut novels, including ‘Breakfast of Champions’. The most underrated, and perhaps best, of his in my opinion is ‘Mother Night’, his third one. ‘Cat’s Cradle’ is also one of his best and some of those later novels are excellent and worthwhile. Aside from ‘Deadeye Dick’, there are ‘Jailbird’ and ‘Bluebeard’, both very memorable. He did get a bit tired of running the novel treadmill and, as I recall, it showed with ‘Hocus Pocus’, which was supposed to be his last until, eight years later, he wrote one last ‘novel’, if you could call it that–‘Timequake’. It had some great moments in it but was one of the biggest hodgepodge messes of a book as a novel that I’ve ever read. After that he only published collections of essays and, after 9/11, he said he couldn’t even try to be funny any more, and he wasn’t. Another way in which his career emulated Mark Twain’s. Both of them became embittered in their last years.

        If you’re seriously considering reading more Vonnegut, Dave, I’d start with ‘Mother Night’ and ‘Cat’s Cradle’, then read a few of those other later novels if you want to continue. One thing about him. He’s a fast read and easy to read. He can also be habit-forming, at least he was for me.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks, bobess48, for all the Vonnegut information/recommendations! You and Bill Tammeus are experts on that author!

          I do want to read more Vonnegut one of these days, and will keep your comment in mind.

          The Vonnegut-Twain comparison does seem apt in several ways — the humor, the social commentary, the late-career bitterness (and burnout?).


  18. This is a really good question, Dave. A frustration I’ve run into is when shopping around for a recommended book and the store only shelves an author’s greatest hit. =/ I’m glad you recommended some great alternates. I’ll need to check out. I’ll say this — reading Billy Budd by Melville was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

    Liked by 1 person

    • For those interested in more Melville, try the bizarre, unique ‘The Confidence-Man’ or the even more obscure, early ‘Mardi’ or the late ‘Israel Potter’. I haven’t yet read those last two but I’ve been fascinated by them for years. Maybe next year will be the Year of Melville for me.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Afternoon Sufficed! Great point that some bookstores (as well as some libraries) only carry a particular author’s “greatest hit” (nice way of putting it). One can always order a writer’s other works from the store or online, but, yes, it can be frustrating…

      I agree about “Billy Budd” — a memorable, powerful novella. Almost like a Greek tragedy. And to think it wasn’t published until more than 30 years after Melville died.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, Afternoon Sufficed, amazing to think about the many novels that almost never happened! Heck, if Dostoyevsky hadn’t narrowly escaped death by firing squad, there would have never been “Crime and Punishment.”

          As for “Billy Budd,” Wikipedia says it’s “the final novel by American writer Herman Melville, first published posthumously in London in 1924 as edited by Raymond M. Weaver, a professor at Columbia University, and then other versions followed. Melville had begun writing the original work in November 1888, but left it unfinished at his death in 1891…

          “The novella was discovered in manuscript form in 1919 by Weaver, who was studying Melville’s papers as his first biographer. Melville’s widow had begun to edit the manuscript, but had not been able to decide her husband’s intentions at several key points or even to see his intended title…”

          Liked by 1 person

      • bobess48, you unerringly named the only three Herman Melville novels I’ve never read. 🙂 And your description of “The Confidence-Man” as “bizarre” and “unique” can also apply to Melville’s “Pierre,” which is truly one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read but really good.


  19. The United States has several ‘one-novel’ novelists–in addition to Herman Melville, as you mentioned, there’s his friend and contemporary Nathaniel Hawthorne. ‘The Scarlet Letter’ is the one that is taught and regarded as great. I have personally only read one other novel of his, ‘The House of Seven Gables’ which, while including many worthwhile qualities, didn’t measure up for me as well. Not having read ‘The Blithdale Romance,’The Marble Faun’ or his universally ignored first novel, ‘Fanshawe’, I can’t unequivocally state that ‘Scarlet Letter’ is best, although it has certainly entered the public consciousness to a greater degree than any of his other works and so, for better or worse, is the work on which his reputation rests. Then there’s Mark Twain and ‘Huckleberry Finn’. Even with its flaws, ‘Huck Finn’ has a universal, archetypal quality to it that, even if one considered one of the other novels as good or even better, the rest of his work doesn’t. It is one of the most influential American novels ever written and continues to exert some influence that none of the rest of his work does. Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ is has a crystalline structural perfection and also taps into that national mythological identity (similar to ‘Huck Finn’ but different) to a greater extent than his other novels did, despite the virtues those other works might possess.

    Across the pond there’s the similarly structural perfection of Flaubert’s ‘Madame Bovary’. Yes, it does have a structural perfection and it is obvious that Flaubert devoted mammoth personal energy and labor to render its perfection. I re-read ‘A Sentimental Education’ earlier this year, which was almost as neglected as any of Melville’s post-‘Moby Dick’ works and, while it may not have that structural perfection, I find it ultimately more powerful, partly because it encompasses a wider canvas, closer to Balzac than to his own ‘Madame Bovary’. ‘Bovary’ is great but has such a small scale, claustrophobic quality to it compared to ‘Sentimental Education’ in which Flaubert really does try to address many of the social, cultural, political currents of life in France for the 20-year span at the middle of the 19th century.

    I’m sure there are many other examples but that’s enough for me to cite at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting that you mentioned Nathaniel Hawthorne, bobess48, because I was thinking of including him in the post but thought “The House of the Seven Gables” was a bit too famous. You’re right — a pretty good novel but “The Scarlet Letter” is so much better and of course more iconic.

      I’ve read Hawthorne’s “The Blithedale Romance” and “The Marble Faun” — both also good but again “The Scarlet Letter” is significantly superior. One fascinating thing about “Faun” is that it doesn’t have Hawthorne’s usual New England setting. Italy instead.

      Totally agree that “Huckleberry Finn” and “The Great Gatsby” are the seminal works of Twain and F. Scott, but then there are the also pretty famous “Tom Sawyer,” “A Connecticut Yankee…,” etc., by Twain and “Tender Is the Night” by Fitzgerald.

      I must read Flaubert’s “A Sentimental Education.” 🙂

      Thanks for the eloquent comment!


    • Over the years I’ve read Madame Bovary twice. I have to get around to A Sentimental Education, and then there’s always The Temptation of St. Anthony which I own, but have not cracked, as the form looks daunting to date. But I have read Salammbo, and found it exciting, fascinating, occasionally thrilling even. I had assumed it was a merely fantastic tale set in Carthage a generation before Hannibal, or mostly, but later learned that Flaubert made use of the latest archeological research available to him, and that Salammbo was based on the historical record. Great ending, also.

      I recommend this bit of Flaubert to those who would like to read something unexpected from the hand of a master.

      Liked by 1 person

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