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The Observer's 100 Greatest Novels of All Time

Robert McCrum of The Observer has compiled his list of the 100 greatest novels of all time. From Don Quixote to Austerlitz, here is his list.

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1. Don Quixote
Miguel De Cervantes
The story of the gentle knight and his servant Sancho Panza has entranced readers for centuries.

2. Pilgrim's Progress
John Bunyan
The one with the Slough of Despond and Vanity Fair.

3. Robinson Crusoe
Daniel Defoe
The first English novel.

4. Gulliver's Travels
Jonathan Swift
A wonderful satire that still works for all ages, despite the savagery of Swift's vision.

5. Tom Jones
Henry Fielding

The adventures of a high-spirited orphan boy: an unbeatable plot and a lot of sex ending in a blissful marriage.

6. Clarissa
Samuel Richardson

One of the longest novels in the English language, but unputdownable.

7. Tristram Shandy
Laurence Sterne

One of the first bestsellers, dismissed by Dr Johnson as too fashionable for its own good.

8. Dangerous Liaisons
Pierre Choderlos De Laclos

An epistolary novel and a handbook for seducers: foppish, French, and ferocious.

9. Emma
Jane Austen

Near impossible choice between this and Pride and Prejudice. But Emma never fails to fascinate and annoy.

10. Frankenstein
Mary Shelley

Inspired by spending too much time with Shelley and Byron.

11. Nightmare Abbey
Thomas Love Peacock

A classic miniature: a brilliant satire on the Romantic novel.

12. The Black Sheep
Honore De Balzac

Two rivals fight for the love of a femme fatale. Wrongly overlooked.

13. The Charterhouse of Parma
Stendhal

Penetrating and compelling chronicle of life in an Italian court in post-Napoleonic France.

14. The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas

A revenge thriller also set in France after Bonaparte: a masterpiece of adventure writing.

15. Sybil
Benjamin Disraeli

Apart from Churchill, no other British political figure shows literary genius.

16. David Copperfield
Charles Dickens

This highly autobiographical novel is the one its author liked best.

17. Wuthering Heights
Emily Brontë

Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff have passed into the language. Impossible to ignore.

18. Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë

Obsessive emotional grip and haunting narrative.

19. Vanity Fair
William Makepeace Thackeray

The improving tale of Becky Sharp.

20. The Scarlet Letter
Nathaniel Hawthorne

A classic investigation of the American mind.

21. Moby-Dick
Herman Melville

'Call me Ishmael' is one of the most famous opening sentences of any novel.

22. Madame Bovary
Gustave Flaubert

You could summarise this as a story of adultery in provincial France, and miss the point entirely.

23. The Woman in White
Wilkie Collins

Gripping mystery novel of concealed identity, abduction, fraud and mental cruelty.

24. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland
Lewis Carroll

A story written for the nine-year-old daughter of an Oxford don that still baffles most kids.

25. Little Women
Louisa M. Alcott

Victorian bestseller about a New England family of girls.

26. The Way We Live Now
Anthony Trollope

A majestic assault on the corruption of late Victorian England.

27. Anna Karenina
Leo Tolstoy

The supreme novel of the married woman's passion for a younger man.

28. Daniel Deronda
George Eliot

A passion and an exotic grandeur that is strange and unsettling.

29. The Brothers Karamazov
Fyodor Dostoevsky

Mystical tragedy by the author of Crime and Punishment.

30. The Portrait of a Lady
Henry James

The story of Isabel Archer shows James at his witty and polished best.

31. Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain

Twain was a humorist, but this picture of Mississippi life is profoundly moral and still incredibly influential.

32. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Robert Louis Stevenson

A brilliantly suggestive, resonant study of human duality by a natural storyteller.

33. Three Men in a Boat
Jerome K. Jerome

One of the funniest English books ever written.

34. The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde

A coded and epigrammatic melodrama inspired by his own tortured homosexuality.

35. The Diary of a Nobody
George Grossmith

This classic of Victorian suburbia will always be renowned for the character of Mr Pooter.

36. Jude the Obscure
Thomas Hardy

Its savage bleakness makes it one of the first twentieth-century novels.

37. The Riddle of the Sands
Erskine Childers

A prewar invasion-scare spy thriller by a writer later shot for his part in the Irish republican rising.

38. The Call of the Wild
Jack London

The story of a dog who joins a pack of wolves after his master's death.

39. Nostromo
Joseph Conrad

Conrad's masterpiece: a tale of money, love and revolutionary politics.

40. The Wind in the Willows
Kenneth Grahame

This children's classic was inspired by bedtime stories for Grahame's son.

41. In Search of Lost Time
Marcel Proust

An unforgettable portrait of Paris in the belle epoque. Probably the longest novel on this list.

42. The Rainbow
D. H. Lawrence

Novels seized by the police, like this one, have a special afterlife.

43. The Good Soldier
Ford Madox Ford

This account of the adulterous lives of two Edwardian couples is a classic of unreliable narration.

44. The Thirty-Nine Steps
John Buchan

A classic adventure story for boys, jammed with action, violence and suspense.

45. Ulysses
James Joyce

Also pursued by the British police, this is a novel more discussed than read.

46. Mrs Dalloway
Virginia Woolf

Secures Woolf's position as one of the great twentieth-century English novelists.

47. A Passage to India
E. M. Forster

The great novel of the British Raj, it remains a brilliant study of empire.

48. The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald

The quintessential Jazz Age novel.

49. The Trial
Franz Kafka

The enigmatic story of Joseph K.

50. Men Without Women
Ernest Hemingway

He is remembered for his novels, but it was the short stories that first attracted notice.

51. Journey to the End of the Night
Louis-Ferdinand Celine
The experiences of an unattractive slum doctor during the Great War: a masterpiece of linguistic innovation.

52. As I Lay Dying
William Faulkner

A strange black comedy by an American master.

53. Brave New World
Aldous Huxley

Dystopian fantasy about the world of the seventh century AF (after Ford).

54. Scoop
Evelyn Waugh

The supreme Fleet Street novel

55. USA
John Dos Passos

An extraordinary trilogy that uses a variety of narrative devices to express the story of America.

56. The Big Sleep
Raymond Chandler

Introducing Philip Marlowe: cool, sharp, handsome - and bitterly alone.

57. The Pursuit Of Love
Nancy Mitford

An exquisite comedy of manners with countless fans.

58. The Plague
Albert Camus

A mysterious plague sweeps through the Algerian town of Oran.

59. Nineteen Eighty-Four
George Orwell

This tale of one man's struggle against totalitarianism has been appropriated the world over.

60. Malone Dies
Samuel Beckett

Part of a trilogy of astonishing monologues in the black comic voice of the author of Waiting for Godot.

61. Catcher in the Rye
J.D. Salinger

A week in the life of Holden Caulfield. A cult novel that still mesmerises.

62. Wise Blood
Flannery O'Connor

A disturbing novel of religious extremism set in the Deep South.

63. Charlotte's Web
E. B. White

How Wilbur the pig was saved by the literary genius of a friendly spider.

64. The Lord Of The Rings
J. R. R. Tolkien

Enough said!

65. Lucky Jim
Kingsley Amis

An astonishing debut: the painfully funny English novel of the Fifties.

66. Lord of the Flies
William Golding

Schoolboys become savages: a bleak vision of human nature.

67. The Quiet American
Graham Greene

Prophetic novel set in 1950s Vietnam.

68. On the Road
Jack Kerouac

The Beat Generation bible.

69. Lolita
Vladimir Nabokov

Humbert Humbert's obsession with Lolita is a tour de force of style and narrative.

70. The Tin Drum
Günter Grass

Hugely influential, Rabelaisian novel of Hitler's Germany.

71. Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe

Nigeria at the beginning of colonialism. A classic of African literature.

72. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Muriel Spark

A writer who made her debut in The Observer - and her prose is like cut glass.

73. To Kill A Mockingbird
Harper Lee

Scout, a six-year-old girl, narrates an enthralling story of racial prejudice in the Deep South.

74. Catch-22
Joseph Heller

'[He] would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; if he didn't want to he was sane and had to.'

75. Herzog
Saul Bellow

Adultery and nervous breakdown in Chicago.

76. One Hundred Years of Solitude
Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A postmodern masterpiece.

77. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont
Elizabeth Taylor

A haunting, understated study of old age.

78. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
John Le Carre

A thrilling elegy for post-imperial Britain.

79. Song of Solomon
Toni Morrison

The definitive novelist of the African-American experience.

80. The Bottle Factory Outing
Beryl Bainbridge

Macabre comedy of provincial life.

81. The Executioner's Song
Norman Mailer

This quasi-documentary account of the life and death of Gary Gilmore is possibly his masterpiece.

82. If on a Winter's Night a Traveller
Italo Calvino

A strange, compelling story about the pleasures of reading.

83. A Bend in the River
V. S. Naipaul

The finest living writer of English prose. This is his masterpiece: edgily reminiscent of Heart of Darkness.

84. Waiting for the Barbarians
J.M. Coetzee

Bleak but haunting allegory of apartheid by the Nobel prizewinner.

85. Housekeeping
Marilynne Robinson

Haunting, poetic story, drowned in water and light, about three generations of women.

86. Lanark
Alasdair Gray

Seething vision of Glasgow. A Scottish classic.

87. The New York Trilogy
Paul Auster

Dazzling metaphysical thriller set in the Manhattan of the 1970s.

88. The BFG
Roald Dahl

A bestseller by the most popular postwar writer for children of all ages.

89. The Periodic Table
Primo Levi

A prose poem about the delights of chemistry.

90. Money
Martin Amis

The novel that bags Amis's place on any list.

91. An Artist of the Floating World
Kazuo Ishiguro

A collaborator from prewar Japan reluctantly discloses his betrayal of friends and family.

92. Oscar And Lucinda
Peter Carey

A great contemporary love story set in nineteenth-century Australia by double Booker prizewinner.

93. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
Milan Kundera

Inspired by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, this is a magical fusion of history, autobiography and ideas.

94. Haroun and the Sea af Stories
Salman Rushdie

In this entrancing story Rushdie plays with the idea of narrative itself.

95. LA Confidential
James Ellroy

Three LAPD detectives are brought face to face with the secrets of their corrupt and violent careers.

96. Wise Children
Angela Carter

A theatrical extravaganza by a brilliant exponent of magic realism.

97. Atonement
Ian McEwan

Acclaimed short-story writer achieves a contemporary classic of mesmerising narrative conviction.

98. Northern Lights
Philip Pullman

Lyra's quest weaves fantasy, horror and the play of ideas into a truly great contemporary children's book.

99. American Pastoral
Philip Roth

For years, Roth was famous for Portnoy's Complaint. Recently, he has enjoyed an extraordinary revival.

100. Austerlitz
W. G. Sebald

Posthumously published volume in a sequence of dream-like fictions spun from memory, photographs and the German past.