A Roundup of Round-Number Anniversaries Comes Around Again

With the dawning of the new year, thoughts again turn to round-number anniversaries of memorable novels. Let’s do this chronologically, shall we?

Daniel Defoe (pictured above) had quite a 1722 — exactly three centuries ago. Fresh off the success of 1719’s Robinson Crusoe, Defoe came out in 1722 with both Moll Flanders (which I’ve read) and A Journal of the Plague Year (which I haven’t yet). Among the reasons protagonist Moll Flanders is fascinating is that she’s a resourceful, law-breaking, “low-born” woman — certainly an unusual lead character for literature of that time.  

Jumping to 1822 — 200 years ago — there’s The Pirate by Sir Walter Scott. I’ve read quite a few Scott novels, but not that one. The Pirate got mixed reviews, making it less well-received than some of the author’s other historical-fiction works such as Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, and Old Mortality.

Many more novels were churned out in 1872 than in 1822, and perhaps the most famous were Jules Verne’s entertaining Around the World in Eighty Days and Lewis Carroll’s whimsical Through the Looking-Glass — the sequel to his classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. That 150-years-ago time also saw the publication of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Demons (also known as The Devils and The Possessed), widely considered one of his better novels.

Among 1922’s highlights a century ago was Babbitt, the conformity-satirizing novel that was part of an incredible 1920s run for Sinclair Lewis along with Main Street, Arrowsmith, Elmer Gantry, and Dodsworth. Also published in 1922 was Willa Cather’s World War I-themed One of Ours — not among her best novels (like My Antonia) but quite good. A couple of 1922 books I’ve yet to read are Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha and James Joyce’s Ulysses — the latter of which I’ll get to in 2222 or thereabouts. 🙂  

Fifty years ago, aka 1972, saw the publication of such novels as Richard Adams’ rabbit-populated Watership Down and Margaret Atwood’s talented-woman-artist-populated Surfacing — both great reads in their different ways.

Finally, 25 years ago was quite a memorable time for fiction. J.K. Rowling’s wildly popular wizard-world series and Lee Child’s riveting Jack Reacher thrillers got started with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone* and Killing Floor, respectively. Among 1997’s other notable releases were Arundhati Roy’s stunning debut novel The God of Small Things, Charles Frazier’s compelling Civil War saga Cold Mountain, Don DeLillo’s wide-ranging Underworld, and Anita Diamant’s feminist-take-on-a-biblical-character The Red Tent. All very worth the time. (*Renamed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when published in the United States in 1998.)

Any comments about the books I mentioned? Other novels you’d like to name with round-number anniversaries this year?

One more thing: This blog’s 2021 statistics are pictured below. Thank you, everyone, for reading my weekly posts and for your MANY terrific comments!

My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to this weekly blog, I write the 2003-started/award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com every Thursday. The latest piece — about COVID, congressional redistricting, and more — is here.

88 thoughts on “A Roundup of Round-Number Anniversaries Comes Around Again

  1. I really like the idea of revisiting memorable milestones as you did, and the great picks! I find it very intriguing, to look back at the books that were the “best sellers” at the time, versus the ones that we remember all this time later. I’m still trying to figure out that difference means.

    And congratulations on the fantastic stats!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Stacey!

      It IS hard to believe that 25 years have passed since the “Harry Potter” series started. I can definitely remember some aspects of all that excitement quite clearly. 🙂

      Like

  2. Brilliant 👏 Dave…love it as a Birmingham Historian and writer. I volunteer at Birmingham @PenMuseum and Washington Irving who you may know wrote “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle” in Birmingham on the site of the Pen Museum in a cottage in Legge Lane/Graham Street around 1820 before leaving Brum to become American Consul to Spain. Can you confirm the date 📅 as I have a feeling it was 1822 so it’s the 200th Anniversary of Irving writing the book in 2022! Keith Bracey AKA the Brummie Bard Birmingham and Black Country poet writer historian journalist and broadcaster on Sports Radio Birmingham Please read my Birmingham and Black Country heritage inspired poetry and my history heritage and sports blog posts on my Bracey Bearwood Blog at http://keithbracey.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the kind words!

      Great that you’re a writer, historian, museum volunteer, etc.!

      I’ve read a lot of Washington Irving’s work, albeit many years ago. Nice that he may have an 1822 anniversary connection. 🙂

      Like

  3. Hi Dave

    I love @SirWalterScott ❤ novels and my all time favourite is the Norman and Anglo Saxon struggle chronicle set in the 11th century that is #Ivanhoe This is because the main adversary of #AngloSaxon hero and eponymous character Ivanhoe is my namesake (almost!) : Sir Nigel de Bracy a #Norman #Knight & plunderer of Anglo Saxon manors and lands! Keith Bracey AKA the Brummie Bard Birmingham and Black Country poet writer historian journalist and broadcaster on Sports Radio Birmingham Please read my Birmingham and Black Country poetry history heritage and sports blog posts on my Bracey Bearwood Blog at

    http://keithbracey.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!

      I share your Sir Walter Scott fandom. I really enjoyed “Ivanhoe,” “Rob Roy,” “Old Mortality,” “The Heart of Mid-Lothian,” “Quentin Durward,” etc.

      Great that you have a namesake connection to “Ivanhoe”!

      I looked at your site, and “liked” some of your interesting posts. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Cindy!

      “Moll Flanders” IS quite a memorable work, and holds up pretty well centuries later. It’s also one of my favorites from the 1700s, along with novels such as Fanny Burney’s “Evelina,” Voltaire’s “Candide,” Henry Fielding’s “Joseph Andrews,” and a few others.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Happy New Year!
    The book that stands out to me the most is “Main Street”.
    It’s not the only one I’ve read(that you’ve mentioned), and I read it many years ago.
    I seem to remember Main Street being dusty and not progressive.
    It was a bit of a sludge read for me, but I got a lot out of it, because of Carol.
    In 1922 Stephen Leacock published – “My Discovery of England”.
    Not my fave book of his, nonetheless “Between the years 1915 and 1925, he was the best-known English-speaking humorist in the world.”
    “Sunshine Sketches” is my fave.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Another great post, Dave – thank you! I’d have to pick 1922 as my favorite of these publishing years, given Joyce, Hesse and Fitzgerald offerings all in one swoop. I read Ulysses in college but would be hard pressed to squeeze it in again. It routinely makes the hardest-books-to-read lists, and Great Courses literally has a course entirely on the book. So 2222 sounds about right for scheduling! Now a rereading of Siddhartha I could make the time for…. And now I’m thinking of a compare/contrast of Siddhartha and The Alchemist. Possibilities….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Donna!

      Nineteen-twenty-two was indeed quite a year for literature, and impressive that you’ve read “Ulysses”! Yes, I’m sure once is enough for that James Joyce novel. 🙂 I’ve read many challenging novels over the years, but, for whatever reason, I just don’t want to read “Ulysses” (as I jokingly alluded to in my post, and you noticed). Just so many other novels on my list, challenging or not.

      A comparison between “Siddhartha” and “The Alchemist”? That sounds VERY intriguing!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A Journal of the Plague Year is probably my favourite book, Dave. It is incredible to read the stats and witness how the plague spread in London. A bit like the Worldometer for CoronaVirus. I also enjoyed Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham and The Stand by Stephen King. I have a fascination with books about pandemics and now I’ve lived through one. Carrie, Stephen King’s fourth book, but first published novel, was written in 1972, but only published in 1973. Of course, I have read and enjoyed Jules Verne (not as much as HG Wells for John Wyndham) and Lewis Carroll. Watership Down is a book I enjoyed as a girl. I loved Wind in the Willows a lot more. It has the most amazing personification in it. I used paragraphs from Wind in the Willows to teach my own children about personification.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Robbie!

      I’ve had “A Journal of the Plague Year” on my to-read list since you first mentioned it — I very much look forward to reading that sobering book. Sounds like Defoe did a LOT of research for it.

      Pandemic novels can indeed be compelling amid their depressing subject matter. Albert Camus’ riveting “The Plague” is certainly another example of that.

      Nice that “The Wind in the Willows” had a big impact on you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Dave, Perhaps I just have a morbid mind, but I find books that grapple with the possibilities for the future entirely riveting. Another great read was Brave New World, not so much the plot which was a bit farfetched, but the world he built was incredibly complex and chillingly possible.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Robbie, I can definitely understand the draw of dystopian novels, though I tend to read them in moderation. Still, I’ve gotten to many of them over the years. “Brave New World” is indeed a great, riveting, almost-plausible novel — and it’s interesting the way it shows one form of oppression while “1984” shows a different, more directly brutal kind.

          Liked by 1 person

          • That is quite true, Dave. The world described in Brave New World is hideously possible. More so for me, than that described in 1984. We seem to be splintering as a world, into greater nationalism, than the opposite described in 1984. The forced consumerism in both, one by the public, and one by the army, is already a truth.

            Liked by 1 person

  7. Happy New Year and congratulations on those impressive stats! We’re all looking forward, I’m sure, to a bumper year of your weekly posts!
    It’s great to look back and see what’s been published on these dates over the past 200 (or even 300!) years. There’s quite a few you’ve listed that I’ve not got round to reading yet. I had a quick look at 1922 and saw that F Scott Fitzgerald had a productive year and I have several of his short stories ready to go when I find the opportunity! I saw also that ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ was also published in 1922. I have the book but it’s also memorable for me because there’s a cocktail bar in Las Vegas where I spent a happy hour or two with friends just a a few years ago..!
    Thanks again for these great posts!

    Liked by 3 people

    • A very Happy New Year to you, too, Sarah, and thanks so much for the kind words. 🙂

      You’re right that F. Scott Fitzgerald had a memorable 1922 early in his writing career. I also forgot to mention “The Velveteen Rabbit,” which I read many years ago; nice that you have the Las Vegas association with it!

      Like

  8. And of course, I will digress because you brought to mind that we just celebrated Public Domain Day January 1, 2022.

    In 2022, the public domain welcomed a lot of “firsts” from 1926: the first Winnie-the-Pooh book from A. A. Milne, the first published novels from Ernest Hemingway (The Sun Also Rises) and William Faulkner (Soldiers’ Pay), the first books of poems from Langston Hughes and Dorothy Parker. When I read the public domain lists, which I do every January 1st, I am filled with gratitude for all the work and effort that has been granted to us from previous generations.

    Happy New Year – the adventures continue…

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Thank you for this wonderful list Dave. Watership Down and The God of Small Things, of course Harry Potter and then Lewis Carroll have been read at some point. There are many that I haven’t read. So thank you there. Of these, I’ve loved Watership Down.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Sonia!

      I agree that there are quite a few terrific authors/novels — a number of which you’ve read 🙂 — that reached anniversaries in 2022. And “Watership Down” is indeed a wonderful work!

      Like

  10. Happy New Year Dave !
    I completely forgot of the book, Arundhati Roy’s stunning debut novel The God of Small Things.
    It was such a complex book , and that was the only Novel she has written ?
    It reminds me of today the complex world we are facing.
    Congrats on you vast readership Dave.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, bebe!

      “The God of Small Things” is definitely an intense, impressive novel — which I believe you recommended to me a number of years ago.

      Arundhati Roy did finally write a second novel that came out in 2017, after a couple decades of authoring nonfiction books and doing activist work.

      Happy New Year to you, too!

      Liked by 2 people

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