Desert Island Books

Hi, folks!

The spring cleaning continues in this [blank] garden of mine! As I already mentioned, I decided to transfer some of my pages to regular posts – so, you will be seeing a lot of those in the coming weeks.

Desert Island Books is a meme (of sorts) inspired by the radio programme Desert Island Discs, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 since January 29th, 1942, where guests share the soundtrack of their lives: they are asked to choose eight recordings that they would take if they were to be cast away on a desert island.

Inspired by the show, the idea here is to choose a personal canon of books instead of songs. I first saw this meme at Annabel, then Caroline, and, most recently, Amy have done their versions. I first had my list on a blog page, created on March 27th, 2018; now that I am transfering it to a blog post, I will take the opportunity to update my “personal canon”. A canon is a work in progress, so I will revisit and update this list in the future, but you will be able to find a link to this post on my main Index and on my About page.

Naturally, my choices here are subject to change according to my mood, the weather, the day of the week – and this list would probably look very different tomorrow.

My rules for including books on this list are also subject to change on pure whim. For now, here they are:

  • I can choose only one book per author (but it can be an edition of their complete works);
  • I am limiting myself to 100 books (8 would be a bit cruel);
  • These are books that
    • I have read many times, or would want to reread over and over;
    • I would immediately buy again if my house burned to the ground;
    • had a great impact on me as reader.

One problem with trying to decide who should be kicked out of the canon is that I’m never exactly sure who is in it. I’ve always felt that the canon was like the guest list to a secret party, a roster drawn up by covert hosts at some undisclosed location.” – Francine Prose, New York Times, 2015


Enough rambling. Here is my list, ordered alphabetically by the author’s surname (reviews will be linked, when available):

  1. Hannah ARENDT – The Life of the Mind (1971)
  2. Rose AUSLÄNDER – Gedichte (2001, not translated)
  3. Ingeborg BACHMANN – Werke: Gesamtausgabe (2010, not translated)
  4. Dorothy BAKER – Cassandra at the Wedding (1962)
  5. Lima BARRETO – The Sad End of Policarpo Quaresma (1911)
  6. Elizabeth BARRETT BROWNING – Aurora Leigh (1856)
  7. Thomas BERNHARD – The Loser (1983)
  8. Elizabeth BOWEN – Eva Trout (1968)
  9. Maeve BRENNAN – The Springs of Affection: Stories of Dublin (1997)
  10. Emily BRONTE – Wuthering Heights (1847)
  11. Gwedolyn BROOKS – Maud Martha (1953)
  12. Brigid BROPHY – The King of a Rainy Country (1956)
  13. Thomas BROWNE – The Major Works
  14. Truman CAPOTE – Summer Crossing (2005)
  15. Leonora CARRINGTON – The Seventh Horse and Other Tales (1989)
  16. Anne CARSON – Nox (2010)
  17. CATULLUS – The Complete Poems
  18. Eileen CHANG – Love in a Fallen City (1943)
  19. Barbara COMYNS – The Vet’s Daughter (1959)
  20. Julio CORTAZAR – 62: A Model Kit (1968)
  21. E. M. DELAFIELD – Diary of a Provincial Lady (1930)
  22. Emily DICKINSON – The Complete Poems
  23. Hilde DOMIN – Gesammelte Gedichte (1987, not translated)
  24. Fyodor DOSTOYEVSKY – Crime and Punishment (1866)
  25. Marguerite DURAS – The Lover (1984)
  26. George ELIOT – Middlemarch (1871)
  27. Hans-Magnus ENZENSBERGER – Gedichte 1950–2015 (2015, not translated)
  28. Lygia FAGUNDES TELLES – The marble dance (1954)
  29. Daniel FARIA – Poesia (2003, not translated)
  30. William FAULKNER – The Wild Palms (1939)
  31. Marieluise FLEIßER – Gesammelte Werke (1972, not translated)
  32. Janet FRAME – The Lagoon (1951)
  33. Sara GALLARDO – Eisejuaz (1971, not translated)
  34. Louise GLÜCK – The Wild Iris (1992)
  35. Nikolai GOGOL – Diary of a Madman (1835)
  36. Ivan GONCHAROV – Oblomov (1859)
  37. Marlen HAUSHOFER – The Wall (1963)
  38. Hilda HILST – Qadós (1973, not translated)
  39. Shirley JACKSON – The Bird’s Nest (1954)
  40. Henry JAMES – The Beast in the Jungle (1903)
  41. Carolina Maria de JESUS – Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus (1960)
  42. Franz KAFKA – The Zurau Aphorisms (1931)
  43. Mascha KALÉKO – Sämtliche Werke und Briefe (2012, not translated)
  44. Marie Luise KASCHNITZ – Gesammelte Werke (1981–1989, not translated)
  45. Molly KEANE – Good Behaviour (1981)
  46. Jamaica KINCAID – The Autobiography of My Mother (1996)
  47. Heinrich von KLEIST – Michael Kohlhaas (1810)
  48. Gertrud KOLMAR – Das lyrische Werk (2003, not translated)
  49. Hertha KRÄFTNER – Kühle Sterne (2001, not translated)
  50. Norah LANGE – People in the Room (1950)
  51. Else LASKER-SCHÜLER – Werke und Briefe (1996 – 2010, not translated)
  52. Margaret LAURENCE – The Fire-Dwellers (1969)
  53. Christine LAVANT – Werke in vier Bänden (2014-2018, not translated)
  54. Doris LESSING – Under My Skin: Volume One of My Autobiography (1994)
  55. Henriqueta LISBOA – Obras completas (1985, not translated)
  56. Clarice LISPECTOR – An Apprenticeship or The Book of Pleasures (1969)
  57. Gilka MACHADO – Poesia Completa (2017, not translated) 
  58. Joaquim Maria MACHADO DE ASSIS – The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas (1881)
  59. Thomas MANN – Buddenbrooks (1901)
  60. Katherine MANSFIELD – The Collected Stories of Katherine Mansfield
  61. Friederike MAYRÖCKER – Gesammelte Gedichte 1939-2003 (2004, not translated)
  62. Carson MCCULLERS – The Member of the Wedding (1946)
  63. Sophia de MELLO BREYNER ANDRESEN – Obra Poética (2010, not translated)
  64. Herman MELVILLE – Moby-Dick (1851)
  65. Irmtraud MORGNER – The Life and Adventures of Trobadora Beatrice as Chronicled by Her Minstrel Laura (1974)
  66. Penelope MORTIMER – The Pumpkin Eater (1962)
  67. Alice MUNRO – * I am breaking my own rules & including all her books, because I cannot choose just one.
  68. Iris MURDOCH – The Unicorn (1963)
  69. Vladimir NABOKOV – Lolita (1955)
  70. Marie NDIAYE – My Heart Hemmed In (2007)
  71. Margaret OLIPHANT – Hester (1883)
  72. OVID – Metamorphoses
  73. Luigi PIRANDELLO – Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921)
  74. PLATO – Symposium 
  75. Fanny zu REVENTLOW – Sämtliche Werke, Tagebücher und Briefe (2004, not translated)
  76. Yasmina REZA – The God of Carnage (2007)
  77. Jean RHYS – Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)
  78. Marilynne ROBINSON – Housekeeping (1980)
  79. Nelson RODRIGUES – Valsa n°6 (1951, not translated)
  80. Christina ROSSETTI – Goblin Market and Other Poems (1862)
  81. Jean-Paul SARTRE – Nausea (1938)
  82. Anna SEGHERS – The Seventh Cross (1942)
  83. Stevie SMITH – Novel on Yellow Paper (1936)
  84. Muriel SPARK – The Driver’s Seat (1970)
  85. Elizabeth Drew STODDARD – The Morgesons (1862)
  86. Alfonsina STORNI – Obra poetica completa (1961, not translated)
  87. Magda SZABO – The Door (1987)
  88. Wislawa SZYMBORSKA – * I keep breaking my rules, but here, once again, I will include all her poery collections available in translation.
  89. Miguel TORGA – Poesia Completa (2000, not translated)
  90. Érico VERÍSSIMO – Clarissa (1933, not translated)
  91. Edith WHARTON – The Age of Innocence (1920)
  92. Christa WOLF – Cassandra (1983)
  93. Virginia WOOLF – The Waves (1931) 
  94. Marguerite YOURCENAR –  Memoirs of Hadrian (1951)
  95. Unica ZÜRN – Gesamtausgabe (1988 – 2001, not translated)

That’s all for now, folks! Which books would you take with you to a desert island?

Yours truly,

J.


the critics harold harvey 1929
The critics, by Harold Harvey, 1929

 


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