Friday, April 21, 2006

EXHAUSTIVE ESSENTIAL FANTASY READING LISTS

A long time ago in a different universe, I compiled first a list of fantasy I thought every writer should read. The idea was to provide as diverse a list as possible in terms of technique, ignoring things like being representative of minorities, etc. This first list is, of course, skewed to my own definitions of fantasy and my own obsessions with technique--and something I use when I teach writing courses. (Along with it, I had a subsidiary list of "right-now" authors for students to check out.)

Then, with the help of people on the Night Shade message boards, a more comprehensive list of all fantasy of any merit. This would also be a list for writers (although also readers, of course) should they want to have a comprehensive view of what "fantasy" really means. You can find the whole messageboard discussion here (although please comment here, on the blog). This list was supposed to be stuff from roughly a decade back or more.

Anyway, I thought I'd post both lists, for reaction/discussion. Should there be any interest.


FANTASY: ESSENTIAL READING

1. Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov
2. The Gormenghast Trilogy, Mervyn Peake
3. Lanark, Alasdair Gray
4. Jerusalem Poker, Edward Whittemore
5. The Chess Garden, Brooks Hansen
6. The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman, Angela Carter
7. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
8. Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges
9. Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter
10. Observatory Mansions, Edward Carey
11. Possession, A.S. Byatt
12. In Viriconium, M. John Harrison
13. Arc d'X, Steve Erickson
14. V, Thomas Pynchon
15. Sinai Tapestry, Edward Whittemore
16. Quin’s Shanghai Circus, Edward Whittemore
17. If Upon a Winter's Night a Traveler, Italo Calvino
18. Collected Stories, Franz Kafka
19. The Master & Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
20. Mother London, Michael Moorcock
21. The Collected Stories, J.G. Ballard
22. A Fine and Private Place, Peter S. Beagle
23. The New York Trilogy, Paul Auster
24. Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy
25. The Birth of the People's Republic of Antarctica, John Calvin Bachelor
26. House of Leaves, Mark Danielewski
27. The Riddle Master trilogy, Patricia McKillip
28. The Baron in the Trees, Italo Calvino
29. The Other Side, Alfred Kubin
30. The Circus of Doctor Lao, Charles Finney
31. A Voyage to Arcturus, David Lindsay
32. The Circus of the Earth & the Air, Brooke Stevens
33. Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift
34. Dictionary of the Khazars, Milorad Pavic
35. At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O'Brian
36. The Troika, Stepan Chapman
37. The Fan-maker’s Inquisition, Rikki Ducornet
38. Solomon Gursky Was Here, Mordechai Richler
39. Darconville's Cat, Alexander Theroux
40. Don Quixote, Cervantes
41. Poor Things, Alasdair Gray
42. Geek Love, Katherine Dunn
43. The Land of Laughs, Jonathan Carroll
44. The Wizard of Earthsea trilogy, Ursula K. LeGuin
45. The House on the Borderland, William Hope Hodgson
46. Little Big, John Crowley
47. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
48. The General in His Labyrinth, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
49. The Seven Who Fled, Frederick Prokosch
50. Already Dead, Denis Johnson
51. The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque, Jeffrey Ford
52. Phosphor in Dreamland, Rikki Ducornet
53. The Passion of New Eve, Angela Carter
54. Views From the Oldest House, Richard Grant
55. Life During Wartime, Lucius Shepard
56. The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, Barry Hughart
57. The Famished Road, Ben Okri
58. Altmann’s Tongue, Brian Evenson
59. Girl Imagined by Chance, Lance Olsen
60. The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant & Other Stories, Jeffrey Ford



COMPREHENSIVE LIST
For this list I have marked with an asterisk every book I’ve read. The other books I have not read. I’d be ashamed of this if my only reading was in fantastical or fabulist areas, but that really comprises at most 1/3 of my reading, with the rest being mysteries, mimetic fiction, nonfiction, etc. I’ve ruthlessly disposed of anything that I have read that I didn’t think warranted being on the list—i.e., a gut reaction upon looking at the title.

I have a lot of reading to do…once I complete my reading, I will pare this list down. See you in two or three…DECADES…

Jeff V.


Acker, Kathy, Eurydice in the Underworld*
Ackroyd, Peter, English Music
Ackroyd, Peter, The House of Dr. Dee*
Adam, Villiers de L'Isle, Contes Cruel
Adams, Richard, Shardik*
Adams, Richard, Watership Down*
Aickman, Robert Collected Strange Stories*
Alain-Fournier, Henri, Le Grand Meaulnes
Alexis, Andre, Despair and Other Stories of Ottawa
Alfau, Felipe, Chromos
Alfau, Felipe, Locos: A Comedy of Gestures
Andreyev, Leonid, The Red Laugh
Anonymous (Burton, Richard trans.) The Thousand Nights and a Night
Anstey, F. A Fallen Idol
Anstey, F. In Brief Authority.
Anstey, F. The Brass Bottle.
Anstey, F. Vice Versa; or, A Lesson to Fathers.
Apuleius, Lucius. The Golden Ass
Arnold, Edwin Lester. Lieut. Gulliver Jones: His Vacation.
Auster, Paul, The New York Trilogy*
Baker, Frank. Miss Hargreaves.
Ballard, J.G., Collected Stories*
Ballard, J.G., The Unlimited Dream Company*
Balzac, Honore, Seraphita*
Barker, Clive - some early Books of Blood*
Baron Corvo – Don Tarquinio
Baron Corvo: Hadrian the Seventh
Barth, John, Giles Goat Boy*
Barth, John, The Sot-Weed Factor*
Barthelme, Donald, Collected Stories*
Bataille, Georges, The Story of the Eye / Madame Edwarda*
Batchelor, John Calvin, The Birth of the People's Republic of Antarctica*
Bauer, Wolfgang, The Feverhead
Beagle, Peter S., A Fine and Private Place*
Bellairs, John. The House with a Clock in Its Walls.
Benét, Stephen Vincent. Thirteen O'Clock: Stories of Several Worlds
Benson, Stella. Living Alone.
Bishop, Michael, Brittle Innings
Blackwood, Algernon, The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories
Blake, William, The Four Zoas
Blish, James, Black Easter*
Boito, Camille – Senso
Bond, Nancy. A String in the Harp.
Borel, Pétrus – Champavert
Borges, Jorge Luis, Ficciones*
Boston, L.M. The Children of Green Knowe.
Bradbury, Ray, Something Wicked This Way Comes*
Bradbury, Ray. The Stories of Ray Bradbury*
Bramah, Ernest, Kai Lung Unrolls His Mat
Bramah, Ernest, Kai Lung's Golden Hours
Brautigan, Richard, Confederate General at Big Sur
Brautigan, Richard, Dreaming of Babylon
Brautigan, Richard, So the Wind Doesn't Blow It All Away
Brautigan, Richard, The Hawkline Monster
Brown, Mary, The Unlikely Ones
Bulgakov, Mikhail, The Master & Margarita*
Bullett, Gerald. Mr. Godly Beside Himself.
Burroughs, William, Naked Lunch*
Burroughs, William, The Cities of the Red Night*
Butler, Samuel. Erewhon; or, Over the Range.
Buzzati, Dino, The Tartar Steppe*
Byatt, A.S., Possession*
Cabell, James Branch, Jurgen*
Cady, Jack The Night We Buried Road Dog*
Calvino, If Upon a Winter's Night a Traveler*
Calvino, Italo, Invisible Cities*
Calvino, Italo, The Baron in the Trees*
Calvino, Italo, The Non-Existent Knight*
Campbell, Ramsey The Influence
Capek, Karel, War with the Newts*
Carey, Edward, Observatory Mansions*
Carpentier, Alejo, Baroque Concerto
Carpentier, Alejo, The Lost Steps
Carrere, Emmanuel, Class Trip
Carrere, Emmanuel, Gothic Romance
Carrier, Emanuele, The Moustache
Carrington, Leonora, The Hearing Trumpet*
Carroll, Jonathan, The Bones of the Moon*
Carroll, Jonathan, The Land of Laughs*
Carroll, Lewis, Alice in Wonderland*
Carroll, Lewis, Alice Through the Looking Glass*
Carter, Angela, Fireworks*
Carter, Angela, Nights at the Circus*
Carter, Angela, The Bloody Chamber*
Carter, Angela, The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman*
Carter, Angela, The Passion of New Eve*
Casares, Bioy, Short Stories
Cendars, Blaise, Dan Yack
Chamisso, Adalbert von. Peter Schlemihl.
Coleridge, Samuel, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner*
Collier, John, His Monkey Wife
Collier, John. Fancies and Goodnights.*
Connell, Evan S.: Notes from a Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel.
Cooper, Susan. Greenwitch*
Cooper, Susan. Over Sea, Under Stone.*
Cooper, Susan. Silver on the Tree*
Cooper, Susan. The Dark Is Rising,*
Cooper, Susan. The Grey King.*
Coover, Robert, Pricksongs and Descants*
Cortazar, Julio, Collected Stories*
Crawford, Marion F., Khaled
Crébillon fils: The Sofa
Crowley, John, Aegypt*
Crowley, John, Little Big*
d' Aurevilly, Barbey, Les Diaboliques
Dalton, James, The Invisible Gentleman.
Danielewski, Mark, House of Leaves*
Davidson, Avram, Collected Stories*
Di Filippo, Paul, A Year in the Linear City*
Di Filippo, Paul. Mouthful of Tongues: Her Totipotent Tropicanlia.
Dickinson, Peter. The Blue Hawk.
Diderot, Denis – The Indiscreet Jewels
Disch, Thomas, 334*
Donaldson, Stephen R. Lord Foul's Bane*
Donaldson, Stephen R. The Illearth War*
Donaldson, Stephen R. The Power That Preserves.*
Dorn, Edward: Gunslinger
du Maurier, George. Peter Ibbetson.
Ducornet, Rikki, Phosphor in Dreamland*
Ducornet, Rikki, The Fan-maker’s Inquisition*
Ducornet, Rikki, The Fountains of Neptune*
Ducornet, Rikki, The Jade Cabinet*
Dunn, Katherine Geek Love*
Dunsany, Lord, Collected Stories*
Dunsany, Lord, The Charwoman's Shadow
Eckman, Kirtsten, The Forest of Hours
Elkin, Stanley, The Living End
Ellison, Harlan, Collected Short Stories*
Emshwiller, Carol, Carmen Dog*
Erickson, Steve, Arc d'X*
Erickson, Steve, Tours of the Black Clock*
Erofeev, Venedikt, Moscow to the End of the Line
Eschenbach, Wolfram von - Parzival
Finlay, Timothy, Headhunter*
Finney, Charles, The Circus of Doctor Lao*
Flammarion, Camille – Lumen
Fleischman, Paul. Coming-and-Going Men: Four Tales.
Ford, Jeffrey, The Physiognomy*
Fouqué, Baron Friedrich de la Motte. Undine.
Fowles, John, The Magus*
France, Anatole - The Revolt of the Angels
France, Anatole. Thaïs.
France, Anatole. The Well of St. Clare.
Fraser, Ronald. Flower Phantoms.
Fuentes, Carlos, Aura
Gardner, John, Grendel*
Garner, Alan The Weirdstone of Brisingamen
Garner, Alan, The Owl Service
Garnett, David. Lady Into Fox.
Garnett, Richard. The Twilight of the Gods.
Garshin, Vsevolod, The Signal and Other Stories
Ghose, Zulfikar, A New History of Torments
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. Herland.
Gogol, Nikolai, The Overcoat and Other Tales of Good and Evil*
Gombrowicz, Witold, Ferdydurke
Goncourt, , The Zemganno Brothers
Goudge, Elizabeth. The Little White Horse.
Gourmont, Remy – Mr. Antiphilos, Satyr
Grabinski, Stephane, The Dark Domain
Gracq, Julien, The Chateau d'Algol
Grant, Richard, Rumors of Spring*
Grant, Richard, Views From the Oldest House*
Gray, Alasdair, Lanark*
Gray, Alasdair, Poor Things*
Grubb, Davis, Ancient Lights
Gun, Guneli - On the road to Baghdad
Gupta, Sunetra, The Glassblower's Breath
Hand, Elizabeth, Black Light*
Hansen, Brooks, The Chess Garden*
Harrison, M. John, In Viriconium*
Harrison, M. John. A Storm of Wings.*
Harrison, M. John--Viriconium Nights*
Hauff, Wilhelm, Three Collections
Havoc, James, Butchershop in the Sky
Hedayat, Sadegh, The Blind Owl
Helprin, Mark, A Soldier of the Great War*
Hernandez, Felisberto, Piano Stories
Hichins, Robert, Flames
Hjortsberg, William, Fallen Angel & Grey Matter
Hodgson, William Hope, The House on the Borderland*
Hogg, James, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
Hospital, Janette Turner Oyster
Hospital, Janette Turner The Last Magician
Hughart, Barry, The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox*
Hughes, Rhys, "The Darktree Wheel"*
Hughes, Rhys, The Smell of Telescopes*
Huysman, J.K., Becalmed
Huysmans, J. K. – Against the Grain
Irwin, Margaret. Still She Wanted for Company
Irwin, Margaret. These Mortals.
Jabes, Edmond, The Book of Questions
Jackson, Shirley, The Haunting of Hill House*
James, M. R. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary.*
Jarry, Alfred. The Supermale.
Jerrold, Douglass. A Man Made of Money.
Johnson, Denis, Already Dead*
Jones, Diana Wynne. Archer's Goon
Joyce, Graham, Requiem
Kadare, Ismail, Afaik
Kafka, Franz, Collected Stories*
Kafka, The Trial*
Kakar, Sudhir, The Ascetic of Desire
Karinthy, Frigyes, Capillaria
Kavan, Anna, Ice
Kerr, Peg, The Wild Swans
Kharms, Daniil, The Man with the Black Coat
Kipling, Rudyard-, The Jungle Book*
Kis, Danilo, A Tomb for Boris Davidovich
Kis, Danilo, Encyclopedia of the Dead
Kis, Danilo, Garden, Ashes
Kristof, Agota, The Notebook
Krohn, Leena, Bloodaxe
Krohn, Leena, Carcanet
Krohn, Leena, Dona Quixote
Krohn, Leena, Gold of Orphir
Krouch, Percival, The Third Finger
Krouch, Percival, The Stink By Which I Know You
Kubin, Alfred, The Other Side*
Langton, Jane, The Diamond in the Window
Lautreamont, Comte de: Maldoror*
Lee, Tanith, Flat Earth Cycle
Lee, Tanith, Red as Blood
LeGuin, Ursula K., Collected Stories*
LeGuin, Ursula K., The Wizard of Earthsea trilogy*
Leiber, Fritz Night's Black Agents*
Leiber, Fritz, Collected short stories*
Leiber, Fritz, Ill Met in Lankhmar*
Leires, Michel, Aurora
Lem, Stanislaw A Perfect Vacuum*
Lem, Stanislaw Imaginary Magnitude*
Lem, Stanislaw One Human Minute
Leven, Jeremy, Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler,
Lewis, C.S.--the Narnia Chronicles*
Lewis, Wyndham, Malign Fiesta
Lewis, Wyndham, Monstre Gai
Lewis, Wyndham, The Childermass
Ligotti, Thomas, The Nightmare Factory*
Lima, Jose Lezama, Paradiso
Lindsay, David. A Voyage to Arcturus.
Lively, Penelope. The House in Norham Gardens.
Lorrain, Jean – Monsieur de Phocas*
Louys, Pierre. Aphrodite.
Lovecraft, H.P., Collected Stories*
Lugones, Leopoldo, Strange Forces
Luo Guanzhong, Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Moss Roberts Translation)
Macdonald, George, Lilith
MacDonald, George, Phantastes
Machen, Arthur--The Hill of Dreams
Mahy, Margaret. The Changeover: A Supernatural Romance
Mahy, Margaret. The Tricksters.
Mann, Thomas, The Holy Sinner
Marcus, Ben, Notable American Women
Marcus, Ben, The Age of Wire and String
Mark, Jan - The Eclipse of the Century
Marmon-Silko, Leslie, Ceremony
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia, One Hundred Years of Solitude*
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia, The General in His Labyrinth*
Masefield, John, The Midnight Folk
Mayne, William. Earthfasts.
McCarthy, Cormac, Blood Meridian*
McKillip, Patricia, The Riddle Master trilogy*
Merimee, Prosper, Venus of Isle
Meynard, Yves, The Book of Knights
Meyrink, Gustave, The Golem*
Millhauser, Steven--Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer
Mills, Magnus Three to See the King
Milton, John - Paradise Lost*
Mirbeau, Octave – Torture Garden*
Mirrlees, Hope. Lud-in-the-Mist
Moorcock, Michael, Gloriana*
Moorcock, Michael, Mother London*
Moorcock, Michael. The Stealer of Souls.
Moore, C.L. Black God's Shadow
Morley, Christopher. Thunder on the Left.
Morris, Kenneth. The Secret Mountain and Other Tales
Morris, William. The Story of the Glittering Plain
Morris, William. The Water of the Wondrous Isles.
Morrow, James, Towing Jehovah*
Mujica Lainez, Manuel. The Wandering Unicorn.
Murakami, Haruki, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle*
Myers, L. H., The Root and the Flower
Nabokov, Vladimir, An Invitation to a Beheading*
Nabokov, Vladimir, Bend Sinister*
Nabokov, Vladimir, Pale Fire*
Nahai, Gina Barkhordar, Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith
Nathan, Robert. Portrait of Jennie.
Nerval, Gerard de, Aurelia
Nesbitt, E., The Five Children and It
Nodier, Charles – Smarra
Novalis – The Bottle Imp
Nye, Robert, Merlin
O'Brien, Flann, At Swim-Two-Birds*
O'Brien, Flann, The Dalkey Archive*
O'Connell,Jack The Word Made Flesh
O'Connor, Flannery Collected Stories*
Okri, Ben, The Famished Road*
Ollier, Claude, Law and Order
Onions, Oliver, The Beckoning Fair One
Orwell, George, Animal Farm*
Oueneau, Raymond, The Sunday of Life.
Ouspensky, P.D., Strange Life of Ivan Osokin
Ovid. Metamorphoses.*
Pamuk, Orhan, My Name is Red
Pargeter, Edith. By Firelight.
Pavic, Milorad, Dictionary of the Khazars*
Peake, Mervyn, The Gormenghast Trilogy*
Pearce, Philippa. Tom's Midnight Garden
Pessoa, Fernando, The Book of Disquietude
Petronius – Satyricon
Phillpotts, Eden. Circé's Island
Phillpotts, Eden. Pan and the Twins.
Piercy, Walker, Love in the Ruins
Pirandello, Luigi, One, No On, and One Hundred Thousand*
Platonov, Andrei, The Foundation Pit
Poe, Edgar Allan, Collected Stories*
Pollack, Rachel, Godmother Night*
Pollack, Rachel, Unquenchable Fire
Potacki, Jan, The Saragossa Manuscript
Potocki, Count Jan Hrabia. The Saragossa Manuscript
Powers, Tim, The Anubis Gates*
Powys, John Cowper. Porius: A Romance of the Dark Ages
Powys, T.F. Mr. Weston's Good Wine.
Powys, T.F. The Two Thieves.
Powys, T.F. Unclay
Prantera, Amanda - Strange Loop
Prantera, Amanda - The Cabalist
Prokosch, Frederick, The Seven Who Fled*
Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow*
Pynchon, V*
Queiros, Eca de, The Mandarin
Queneau, Raymond, Saint Glinglin
Raban, Arnold, The Rat and the Rose
Rabkin, Eris S., ed. Fantastic Worlds: Myths, Tales and Stories.
Rachilde, The Juggler
Ray, Jean, Malpertuis
Read, Herbert. The Green Child.
Reage, Pauline, The Story of O
Richardson, Maurice, The Adventures of Engelbrecht*
Richler, Mordechai, Solomon Gursky Was Here*
Rolfe, Frederick, Hadrian the Seventh
Rooke, Leon, Sing Me No Love Songs, I'll Say You No Prayers
Rosa, Joao Guimaraes, The Devil to Pay In The Backlands
Roy, Arundhati, The God of Small Things
Ruff, Mat, Sewer, Gas, Electric: The Public Works Trilogy
Rulfo, Juan, Pedro Paramo
Rushdie, Salman, Midnight's Children
Rushdie, Salman, Satanic Verses*
Ryman, Geoff, The Unconquered Country*
Sabato, Ernesto, On Heroes and Tombs
Sabato, Ernesto, The Tunnel
Saki, Collected Short stories
Saramago, Jose, Blindness
Sarban, Ringstones
Schulz, Bruno, Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass*
Schulz, Bruno, The Street of Crocodiles*
Scliar, Moacyr, The Centaur in the Garden
Seare, Nicholas, Rude Tales and Glorious
Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein*
Shepard, Lucius, Life During Wartime*
Shepard, Lucius, The Jaguar Hunter*
Shepard, Lucius, The Scalehunter's Beautiful Daughter*
Sherwood, Frances, The Book of Splendor
Shiel, M.P., Shapes in the Fir
Shih-Nai An – Water Margin (also called Men of the Marshes)
Shwob, Marcel, Imaginary Lives
Sisson, C.H., Christopher Homm
Sladek, John, Roderick / Roderick at Random
Smith, Cordwainer, Collected Stories*
Smith, Thorne. The Stray Lamb.
Smith, Thorne. Turnabout.
Sologub, Feodor, The Petty Demon
Stevens, Brooke, The Circus of the Earth & the Air*
Stewart, Mary. The Crystal Cave.*
Stewart, Mary. The Hollow Hills.*
Stewart, Mary. The Last Enchantment.*
Stewart, Sean, Galveston
Stockton, Frank R. The Bee-Man of Orn and Other Fanciful Tales.
Straub, Peter, Mr. X*
Strindberg, August – Inferno
Sturgeon, Theodore Collected Stories
Suskin, Patrick, Perfume*
Swanwick, Michael, Collected Stories
Swanwick, Michael, Faust
Swift, Jonathan, Gulliver's Travels*
Szilagyi, Steve - Photographing Fairies
Theroux, Alexander, Darconville's Cat*
Thurber, James. The Thirteen Clocks.*
Thurber, James. The White Deer.
Tutuola, Amos, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
Unamuno, de, Miguel, Mist
Vian, Boris, Et on tuera tous les affreux
Vian, Boris, Froth on the Daydream
Vian, Boris, Heartsnatcher
Vian, Boris, Red Grass
Viereck, George Sylvester, and Eldridge, Paul. My First Two Thousand Years
Vonnegut, Kurt, Slaughterhouse Five*
Walker, Wendy, The Secret Service
Wall, Mervyn. The Unfortunate Fursey
Wallace, Daniel, Big Fish
Walser, Robert, Jakob Von Gunten
Warner, Rex, The Wild Goose Chase
Warner, Sylvia Townsend Kingdoms of Elfin
Warner, Sylvia Townsend. Lolly Willowes; or, The Loving Huntsman
Webb, Don, Uncle Ovid's Exercise Book*
Westall, Robert. The Wind Eye.
White, T. H. The Once and Future King*
White, T.H. The Sword in the Stone.*
Whitehead, Colson, The Intuitionist
Whittemore, Edward, Jerusalem Poker*
Whittemore, Edward, Nile Shadows*
Whittemore, Edward, Quin’s Shanghai Circus*
Whittemore, Edward, Sinai Tapestry*
Willard, Nancy, Sister Water
Willard, Nancy, Things Invisible to See
Williams, Charles - All Hallows Eve
Williams, Charles - Descent Into Hell
Williams, Charles - Many Dimensions
Williams, Charles - The Greater Trumps
Williams, Charles - The Place of the Lion
Williams, Charles - War In Heaven
Willis, Connie, Lincoln's Dreams
Winterson, Jeannette, Sexing the Cherry*
Witkiewicz, Stanislaw Igancy, Insatiability
Wolfe, Gene, Strange Travelers
Wolfe, Gene, The Book of the New Sun*
Woolf, Virginia: Orlando*
Wright, Stephen, Going Native
Wrightson, Patricia. The Ice is Coming
Wu Cheng’en – Journey to the West
Wylie, Elinor. The Venetian Glass Nephew.
Wylie, Philip. The Disappearance
Xuequin, Cao, The Story of the Stone
Yoshikawa, Eiji, Musashi
Zelazny, Roger. Nine Princes in Amber.*
Zola, Emile, La faute de J'abbe Mouret

148 Comments:

At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Paul Jessup said...

No Magic for Beginners? I thought that would be somewhere on the top 100 must read.

And why Alice in Wonderland over Through the Looking Glass? I perfer Looking Glass myself, it's a bit darker and more reclusive.

Nice list though. Definately different from what I would've chosen, althugh most of it's the same.

Although, I am surprised Doestoyvski's The Double isn't on the list. It's one of those clinchers for me. And no Herman Hesse? I'm sure Damien, Siddartha or Steppenwolf could be considered fantasy.

 
At 1:10 PM, Blogger jukkahoo said...

I had a bit of a problem understanding why Tolkien and LotR would not be considered "essential fantasy". I did get the "because his prose at the line and paragraph level isn't really that good a lot of the time" (as you say on that original thread at NightShade), but if we (or, well, you) are talking about essential, I - as a non-English speaking/writing person - would like to understand what you mean by that. I thought that essential means "extremely important or absolutely necessary" to the subject at hand. How would Lord of the God-damn Rings not be essential fantasy?

You do however answer this in your intro's first paragraph. The list is not THE ESSENTIAL FANTASY BOOKS OF AL TIME. (Now I really wonder whether I actually should post this... sorry about this rambling.) If this would be a comprehensive list of the aforementioned , I would find it odd to leave out a book that - in good and bad - has defined for quite a few people what fantasy is.

Your list(s) have some terrific books there, thou. Haven't read nearly enough and I suppose I never will, but as lists of good readings go, this has a lot more of the good stuff than most.

I guess what I really am trying to say is, that these books are a great way of expressing what fantasy at its best and most innovative can be and should be a part of every little and big fantasy aficionado's healty diet of reading. Maybe even with LotR... I think I better go now and grab one of those mentioned and just read it.

Word up: hvtgoe (take-away food in Charly)

 
At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul:

Remember--10 years at least have to go by. I'm not a big fan of putting "instant classics" on the list because--and I'm *not* talking about Link's collection specifically--a lot of them don't seem nearly as good from a decade's perspective down the road.

I think Hesse is pretty crappy.

I think you should list the omissions. This list is like a tide--it goes in and out and leaves strange things on the shore. Different each time.

I.e., it's a dialogue and a discussion.

*I* am rarely consistent in what I would choose day-to-day.

JeffV

 
At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh--yeah, Tolkien should be on it. I just figured everyone had read him. I want the students to wrench themselves away from the obvious.

I don't claim any of this is logical. Just the start of a discussion.

JeffV

 
At 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The more I think about it the more horrible I feel "No XXXX? I thought that would be somewhere on the top 100 must read" is as a statement when we're talking about anything so recent. And this isn't picking on Magic--I can't tell you what I think of it because I'm doing the World Fantasy Award judging--but in general.

Let the dust settle. Let the various books be seen in context a little more before we start calling them out as "somewhereon the top 100 must read". As it is, I think my own inclusion of a few of the books is iffy until more time has passed.

JeffV

 
At 1:19 PM, Anonymous Paul Jessup said...

Really? Hesse pretty crappy? Well, to each their own. I myself love him and am surprised that most people don't include him in the SF/F canon (esp since Glass Beads Game is a pretty good Negative Utopia novel). But, enough beating of that dead horse.

It wasn't meant as a "you should include these", just wondering on some of the inclusions and exclusions.

I guess Link's book is an instant classic- and you are right, time will tell. But I do think that if someone is just starting out in writing fantasy, it's a real good introduction on how the genre can expand and contract, and not be just one thing but all things.

Is this an updated list, or do some of those books feel stale to you now and not as relevent?

 
At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Paul Jessup said...

[just read your last post]

Ignore the post I just made. Your reasoning is really good for leaving out anything that bleeding edge.

 
At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Link is always on my subsidiary list of "right-now" authors. As is Ford, so he should probably come off the main list of the 60.

I expected a more violent response re Hesse!

Some of them do feel more stale than before. Not the ones in my top 20, though.

Any other omissions? I just love to discuss this kind of stuff, Paul.

JeffV

 
At 1:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Naw--I'm not ignoring it. I just can't really comment on Link right now. LOL! Or anything else from 2005.

Jeff

 
At 2:08 PM, Blogger Freebird said...

Good lists. It especially warmed my heart to see Borges, Calvino, García Márquez, and Saramago there. But there are a few non-English works that I think are very essential for people to read in translated form if not in the original:

Adolfo Bioy Casares, The Invention of Morel - He worked very closely with Borges and this work is seminal for a lot of the South American boom that followed.

Angélica Gorodischer, Kalpa Imperial - Considering when and where it was released (Argentina, just before the junta fell), this was a daring work and it holds up well even today. Le Guin did an excellent job of translating it.

And I know you said that you aren't a fan of 'instant classics,' but I can't wonder what many will make of Robert Bolaño's works as they are now becoming available in English. I suspect in 10-20 years, he'll be a posthumous legend.

But other than these possible considerations, I really enjoyed seeing the width and depth of these works. And apparently I have a lot more reading to do!

 
At 6:12 PM, Anonymous Paul Jessup said...

Omissions? I'm trying to think of some, but really, you have a very solid list there. I can think of some plays that would compliment the list, but since it's fiction I'll leave them out. The only omits I can think of are people that are still pretty fresh, and these:

Umberto Eco shold be up there, for Baudilino, and maybe Foucalt's Pendulum

I really liked Charles William's All Hollow's Eve...since it portrayed such a new style of fantasy so early on (basically a contemprary occultism fantasy- more magic realism than Tolkien, even though he was an inkling)

OH! And John Fowles! Have you ever read his stuff? The Collector isn't really fantasy- but DAMN it's good (and if you've read the sandman, there is a ton of references to the book at the Cereal Convention), and then there's also a story he wrote about a little french boy with a frog in his stomach, but I can't remember the name of off the top of my head.

 
At 6:44 PM, Blogger Andrew Wheeler said...

Hey, Jeff, I ran through your list over on my blog to see how many of them I had read and/or owned. I then started to get worked up about omissions from the list (as I see some of your commentors have also done, or nearly did), before I re-read your introductory comments and calmed myself back down.

So this is just to share my near-Emily Litella moment, and to let you know about my small part in trying to turn your list into yet another one of those pesky memes.

 
At 7:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Andy! Yeah--I can't wait for you to post your own list.

Another thing I forgot about the context of the longer list is I think we were trying to come up with a lot of stuff outside of the traditional lists of what constitutes the canon of fantasy!

I'd be worked up myself if my 60-book list was essential fantasy for readers! I really have to do a better job of clarifying sometimes.

JeffV

 
At 7:30 PM, Blogger erasmus said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 7:31 PM, Blogger erasmus said...

I'd say that the biggest omission from the list is Gene Wolfe.

Jeremy

 
At 7:33 PM, Blogger erasmus said...

Jeeze, I can't type tonight. What I meant to say was the biggest omission from the must-read list is Gene Wolfe. I can plainly see that he's in the more exhaustive list.

Jeremy

 
At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eek! Gene Wolfe. Yes. Also, I should take off Jeff Ford just because it hasn't been 10 years yet.

JeffV

 
At 9:36 PM, Blogger The Head said...

Mr. VanderMeer

You've done a sublime and beautiful thing here and I'll refer to it much in the years to come.

I must quarrel with a few things, however.

I suggest that the absence of Tolkien represents more of a personal idiosyncrasy and leaning on your part than it does a solid critical judgement. One may dislike Tolkien greatly but he still belongs in the -= may I use the term? - canon.

Lewis would be better represented by his most significant and mature work, "Til We Have Faces."

Why no R. A. Lafferty? I won't say his omission is quite "unforgiveable" but he certainly belongs on any list that contains Kafka or Avram Davidson.

My respects,

Allen

 
At 9:45 PM, Blogger picaresque said...

Nice lists. Certainly beats that sad top 10 in the NY Times that got the SF community in a lather. The whole top 10, top 100, etc. is pretty arbitrary As far as the list of stuff that you haven't read, it'd be in your best interest, based on what I know of the first list, that you add Jose Saramago's Blindness & Orhan Pamuk's My Name Is Red towards to your bookpile posthaste. At least 1 is likely to make it into your next list of essentials.

I know what you mean RE: Hesse.

 
At 10:07 PM, Anonymous chouinard said...

Jeff,

It's a very nice list. I agree with almost all of your selections, especially to the extent that I think all of them are very *good* books.

At the same time, I can't help but notice that your list is fairly flawed. Having three Whittemores and zero Jack Vance? No Clark Ashton Smith? No Robert Howard? William Burroughs but not Edgar Rice? Not a single Leigh Brackett?

It's a very *specific* list you've made, but to be honest I think it suffers from a lack of inclusiveness. I'd be much more interested in a list that is less reflective of your personal taste and more reflective of the history of fantasy, but with the extension of that sort of "fantasy-but-not-thought-of-as-fantasy" included. A deeper context, I guess.

--gabe

 
At 11:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gabe:

Then make your own goddamn list. LOL! (I say that affectionately.)

I'll take three Whittemores over Vance any day of the week--novels, of course. Vance short fiction I quite like.

What is any list but a compilation of personal prejudices and appreciations? I don't like Smith very much, or the other authors you mention. That said, we're now beginning to build a bigger list--BUT, if you (the general you) want to suggest more authors, then it has to be specific titles by those authors.

I'm surprised more people aren't suggesting there should be more women on the list. I certainly think there should be.

Re the Tolkien comment--I quite like Tolkien, or did last time I read him at 18. See prior comment I posed.

Lafferty I never got into. What's the book you're recommending?

And in case it isn't obvious--I'm trying to create a dialogue, not stifle one.

JeffV

 
At 11:54 PM, Anonymous Ben Payne said...

Hi Jeff,

This is a very cool list. I haven't read even close to what you have.

The whole comprehensive list thing is intense. There are some authors I'd consider seminal to an understanding of recent blockbuster fantasy, like Eddings, Feist, Weiss and Hickman, and Pratchett, who I'd include in any analysis of trends... whatever my personal feelings regarding their merit might be... but that could just be because they were writing at the time I was growing up.

On a personal level, I'd include Saint Exupery's The Little Prince.

 
At 11:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pratchett's a blind spot.

Re them all, though--again, which specific books.

Name naught authors, who are merely mortal, but the works that might not be.

JeffV

 
At 12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

er, that should probably be "not" but I was conjuring up a bad Rime of the Ancient Mariner...and it's 3 in the freakin' morning, too!

JeffV

 
At 12:08 AM, Anonymous chouinard said...

Jeff,

I guess I was equating "exhaustive" with "comprehensive". Call me crazy! And as you say, it's skewed by your own tastes, as it naturally should be. But if I were to be contentious, I'd say that any "essential fantasy reading list" ought to represent the depth and breadth of the field, which would for me include the past... because while a lot of early 'genre fantasy' may not be the BEST work in the world, there are certainly things to be learned from it.

One absolutely glaring ommission that I notice?

Something (the recent LIMEKILLER, perhaps?) from Avram Davidson.

I'd probably recommend Graham Joyce's THE TOOTH FAIRY before REQUIEM.

Also, I'd add some of the Gothics as well.

VATHEK by William Beckford
MELMOTH THE WANDERER by Charles Maturin
THE MONK by Matthew Lewis

And definitely THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY by GK Chesterton.

Hmmm... maybe I'll go read the messageboard discussion now!

 
At 12:13 AM, Anonymous gabe said...

heh... apparently I've already *read* the thread. And reminded...

...you have A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR but not A WINTER'S TALE????

 
At 12:20 AM, Anonymous chouinard again said...

Crap. I'm not trying to comment spam, I swear!

But THE IRON DRAGON'S DAUGHTER by Michael Swanwick is a *must*. It is one of the first thoroughly American 'cultural wasteland' fantasies.

 
At 6:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gabe:
LOL! Yes--remember, we leave our memories on the internet now, so we don't have to keep them on our internal hard drives.

Excellent stuff. I agree on all counts.

Do you know, the insane thought occurred to me to put up a webpage with links to info on all novels on the ultimate list and a short paragraph description of each.

Of course, someone has to have done that in a book already, right?

jeffV

 
At 6:44 AM, Blogger Keith Ferrell said...

Wonderful, arguable, thoughtful, provocative, inspirational (Lord give me time to read all of those that I haven't yet!), universal, idiosyncratic -- everything a good list should be.

I'd add or argue for Mailer's ANCIENT EVENINGS.

Well done

 
At 9:24 AM, Blogger William Lexner said...

Hey Jeff,

Thanks so much for doing this, it's a lot easier to read in this form.

I can see little things I'd add from authors already on your list like The Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce and A Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin. I also see a few authors missing who deserve a space such as John M. Ford with A Dragon Waiting or Kim Newman's Anno Dracula.

I love that the list includes Yves Meynard, Patrick Suskind, and Mark Z. Danielewski.

We don't have sufficient perspective yet, but I feel that Wolfe's Wizard Knight dualogy is both dreamy and dreamlike.

There will also come a time when Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire deserves a place among this list. (in my ever-so-humble opinion)

Thanks for doing this, and thanks for giving me permission to link it on my blog.

 
At 11:23 AM, Blogger Freebird said...

Having re-read all of the names listed and seeing the newer comments, I guess there's a few more worth considering:

Is there a reason why Delany's Dhalgren was left off both lists? There just seems to be such an atmosphere about that novel that transcends artificial genre definitions.

As for the need to include more women in the lists, I can agree, but if you're going to argue a 10 year-waiting rule, that might leave out a few, but names to consider might be:

Since Gabe mentioned the Gothic writers, where's Ann Radcliffe? The Mysteries of Udolpho was a very influential Gothic work (see Austen's Northanger Abbey) and if one can make the case for Maturin and Lewis, then Radcliffe needs to be mentioned as well.

And just for the hell of it, why not Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale?

Then there are some promising female authors whose works might become 'essential' in the near future. Nalo Hopkinson and K.J. Bishop being the first two to come to mind.

Something tells me that if we all were to reflect upon this for a few more days, the exhaustive list might more than double in size and still have room to grow.

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger C.E. Petit said...

I find it somewhat ironic that there's one major thread of fantasy that appears to be almost missing from the list, unless I'm just missing something: the Faust/Mephistopheles tale. No Marlowe; no Göthe; of the more-recent adaptations of which I'm aware, only Swanwick. Maybe I'm missing something among the books I haven't read, but I'm curious on this.

And if you're going to categorize Gulliver's Travels as belonging with fantasy—I think that's correct, but defining "fantasy" is definitely an argument for another time—it seems to me that some of the "magical satirists" of the Enlightenment belong on the list. Voltaire and possibly Rabelais (although the version I've read is a very literal, and hence clunky, translation) are my immediate suggestions, in place of Stephen R. Donaldson.

 
At 1:31 PM, Blogger Keith said...

Leave Jeffery Ford on th elist! I'm reading Mrs. Charbuque right now and it's amazing.

It struck me that, though you included 4 Brautigan books, you left off his most obviously fantastic (as in famtasy, not necesarily his best); why no In Watermellon Sugar?

 
At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think in a couple of days, I'll post a revised list. Keep it coming.

JV

 
At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW--my apologies, there's one author on there who is a construct. I won't tell you how many books the author has on the list or anything else...

JeffV

 
At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Spencer said...

Jeff,

Your lists are fantastic. They are pretty close to being definitive.

I'll second other people's suggestions of R.A. Lafferty (especially NINE HUNDRED GRANDMOTHERS), DHALGREN, THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY, Clark Ashton Smith, Jack Vance, and Robert E. Howard.

I also have one suggestion of my own: Gene Wolfe's STRANGE TRAVELERS should be taken off the list. It's a pretty good short story collection, but Wolfe's first short story collection, THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR DEATH AND OTHER STORIES AND OTHER STORIES, is vastly better. Also, Gene Wolfe's novel PEACE deserves to be on the list. It's pretty hard to find a copy, but it's well worth the effort. PEACE is one of those ignored books (like the JERUSALEM QUARTET) that is better than 99% of everything out there.

 
At 2:18 PM, Blogger Frank said...

Edward Carey's Observatory Mansions is another book that's less than ten years old.

 
At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Christopher said...

The omission of Textus Obscurantus by Arturo mi Favorito reveals this entire exercise as nothing more than blog gas.

 
At 3:22 PM, Blogger erasmus said...

I guess that I should mention a couple of works for slightly younger readers. First is A Wrinkle Time, by Madeleine L'Engle. Second is the Prydain Chronicles, by Lloyd Alexander. Third is the His Dark Materials series, by Philip Pullman.

Kids need something to read before they tackle Gene Wolfe, don't they?

Jeremy

 
At 4:03 PM, Anonymous Charles Vess said...

Some suggestions:

Kenneth Grahame:The Wind in the Willows, Evangeline Walton, her Mabinogion retellings: Prince of Annwn, Children of Llyr, The Song of Rhiannon and The Island of the Mighty, Alice Hoffman:Practical Magic, Joanne Harris:Blackberry Wine Terri Windling:The Wood Wife, Charles de Lint: Memory and Dream, Elizabeth Hand: Mortal Love
Jane Yolen: Briar Rose.

Best,
Charles

 
At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Mike Allen said...

I am so pleased to see you include the Barry Hughart series. And Calvino's "Winter's Night."

 
At 7:39 PM, Blogger Peter Bebergal said...

This whole conversation is just a load of fun. Thanks Jeff for the lists, and for getting this wonderful discussion going. I have to say I second Wolfe's Book of the New Sun being added to the essential list.

 
At 8:41 PM, Blogger sara said...

Hi Jeff,

Why 'The General in His Labyrinth' as opposed to, say, 'Autumn of the Patriarch' or one of the short story collections? ('Leaf Storm' is one of my favourites..)

'General' is one of Marquez's weaker ones, I think.. though the last paragraph of the book is absolutely stunning.

Also, do you think fantasy writers/readers lose out by only reading fiction from the past decade or so? I'm really much more moved by contemporary fantasy than by older works.

 
At 9:05 PM, Blogger JeffV said...

I think there's a wealth of older fantasy--some of it on the fringes of what would be considered fantasy--that represents traditions and influences that all writers *should* read. As for what readers should read...whatever takes your fancy, I think. But I do think fantasy writers--writers in general--diminish their own ability to be original by not reading widely.

And we're not even touching on the Dedalus books of fantasy, decadence, etc. I'm going to have to post a listing of them, because of the fact they collect so many writers otherwise effectively lost to us.

Yes--I can't believe the Wolfe is not on there.

I really like General, Sara. I think it rewards repeated reading. But beyond the obvious choices for Marquez, I think there's a number of books readers would argue over re inclusion.

I was tempted to put everything Angela Carter ever wrote on the list.

I am taking notes, btw, and will post a revised list.

Charles Vess points out a very neglected thread of fantasy, with regard to this list, too. Which is good.

And someone *should* do a list of just the past 10 years. I guess that's of less interest to me because I find there's less chance of discovery--of discovering something you didn't know about the first time around.

JeffV

 
At 10:18 PM, Blogger William Lexner said...

I need to second Mr. Vess's reccomendations of Windling's Wood Wife and Hand's Mortal love.

Other reccomendations:

-Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock
-Lyonesse Trilogy by Jack Vance
-Prince of Nothing by R.S. Bakker (fuck perspective, not enough can be said of this work))
-Red Moon and Black Mountain by Joy Chant

 
At 10:25 PM, Anonymous chouinard said...

Hey Jeff,

I've been thinking about your website comment posted earlier, and I find it rather intriguing. Personally, I'd really like to see a website that lists the books, gives a descriptive paragraph... but then also includes a paragraph telling HOW the book can be useful to the 'budding' writer. Not exhaustive, really, but it would make a marked contrast to the generalized "how to write fantasy" books and websites out there. Maybe an article for the SFWA website, to go alongside Poul Anderson's "On Thud and Blunder"? "Techniques of the Fantasists" or something. Because there's really nothing out there for a prospective writer that helps her understand that she can take techniques used by, say, Nabokov and incorporate them into writing fantasy. Generally, it's all very generic "Here's How To Write Like Tolkien Did" information out there.

I've also been thinking of which books in the list I would take off, or disagree with, but I think that might be a task for an alternative list! As an example of what I mean, despite the fact that I love PALE FIRE, I would say that INVITATION TO A BEHEADING would be more *useful* reading to a prospective fantasist. (Do you sense that I'm approaching this list from a specific angle?) The symbolism in INVITATION is amazing, and I've become rather more convinced that symbolism is a very important tool for a fantasist. Also - Cincinnatus thinking his captors out of existence? AWESOME!

Anyway, you've set me to thinking. I like that. Cheers!

 
At 6:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gabe:

Yes, it would be useful to have that paragraph. I think I will revise my top 60 at the very least and then provide the explanation as to why it's on there.

Re Invitation versus Pale Fire--Pale Fire is more unique, I think, in terms of approach. Invitation would be useful as well, but you could get those lessons from other books.

JeffV

 
At 7:20 AM, Anonymous Charles Vess said...

I can't believe I forgot to mention:
Sherman Alexi: Reservation Blues (a perfect novel as far as I'm concerned),
Thomas King: Green Grass, Running Water,
Louise Erdrich: The Antelope Wife

Best,
Charles

 
At 8:11 AM, Blogger Ben said...

Hmm...the thing that instantly bothered me was the inclusion of "Black Light," quite possibly Elizabeth Hand's weakest novel, but not "Waking the Moon." To re-enforce this, I'd point out that (1) the mythological stuff from "Black Light" was regurgitated from "Waking the Moon," but handled in a much more rushed and less stylistically effective way, and (2) "Black Light" should be disqualified on the 10-year rule alone since it came out in '99. "Black Light" was an OK novel--I don't think Hand would be capable of less than that if she wanted to--but it was nowhere near as good as "Waking the Moon," "Glimmering," "Winterlong," or even "Mortal Love."

 
At 11:41 AM, Blogger Bernie Goodman said...

Jeff,

Cool list. After a quick read through I'd add:

Brian Aldiss' Malacia Tapestry

Karen Fowler's Sarah Canary or her short stories, or both

James Blaylock's The Last Coin

Stanton Coblentz' When Birds Fly South

Robert Holdstock's Mythago Wood or Lavondyss

Tim Powers' Last Call

& Swanwick's Iron Dragon's Daughter

Best,
Bernie

 
At 6:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Jeff. Thanks for this list, an intriguing one indeed. I think the best way to begin ADDING stories (yes, I know, just about the last thing you needed!) is to mention stories by writers already on the list that you haven't listed.

For example, Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Bird is indeed remarkable -- essential -- but so too, surely, is The Third Policeman. If you haven't read it, well, in two or three decades when you have the time, do!

By the same token, Nabokov's Pale Fire is incredible. Is it fantasy? Maybe not, but asking whether or not it is and why is surely very rewarding to a fantasy reader. And Gabe Chouinard suggests as a more "useful" text Invitation to a Beheading. An interesting book. But I'd trump that with The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, or Bend Sinister (which you do list!), though the latter is not so fantastical. Or of course Ada, just possibly the best Alternate History ever. And Pnin is his best novel, but I have a hard time calling it fantasy.

Where's Kingsley Amis? Try The Green Man, or The Anti-Death League, or The Alteration.

Good George MacDonald selections, but don't forget his childrens' work, perhaps especially At the Back of the North Wind.

Of course Peter Beagle's The Last Unicorn stands at least equal with A Fine and Private Place.

Oh, and many more. Which only reinforces how rich the field is!

--
Rich Horton

 
At 6:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you need to have that many entries for Whittemore? Why not just call one entry THE JERUSALEM QUARTET and open up space for a couple more entries? You did that with Auster.

Off the top of my head, some folks I'm surprised not to see on either list (unless I missed them):

Umberto Eco, NAME OF THE ROSE
Robert Irwin, ARABIAN NIGHTMARE
Kobo Abe -- take your pick
Robert Louis Stevenson, DR JEKYLL or NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Max Beerbohm, ZULEIKA DOBSON or SEVEN MEN
Robert Chambers, KING IN YELLOW
ER Eddison, WORM OUROBOROS

You could certainly use more women. Like Evangeline Walton, Joanna Russ, Jane Gaskell, which are also not on either list, I don't think.

GabrielM

 
At 9:46 PM, Anonymous chouinard said...

Rich points out how rich the field is.

I snigger like a fool.

 
At 9:50 PM, Anonymous chouinard said...

You could certainly use more women. Like Evangeline Walton, Joanna Russ, Jane Gaskell, which are also not on either list, I don't think.

Oh, good call on all of those.

And dammit, someone needs to add Leigh Brackett.

 
At 10:36 PM, Blogger JP said...

I'd second Vance's Lyonesse books and Aldiss' The Malacia Tapestry. ER Eddison's books are also essential in their own way.

Also, similar to the complain against your exclusion of Tolkien, I think leaving out epic fantasy altogether (as you *seem* to have done) is a bit of a problem. Granted, there's suprisingly little in the field that seems to have enduring appeal and value, (I predict that even Martin's series will suddenly seem a lot smaller than it appears, once it is complete), multi-volume works set in a vaguely medieval world are such a huge part of the genre that any list of essentials that a writer must study, presumable to understand the fantasy landscape in its entirety, needs to include some of that stuff. Sadly, I can't think of anything to suggest: I thought of Stephen Donaldson, but really, those are pretty turgid books upon re-reading. Perhaps something by Moorcock, although his straight epic fantasies, like the Corum books, are not usually his best. Perhaps the Count Brass novels?

 
At 12:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, if you're going to include Moorcock, in addition to MOTHER LONDON I think it would be THE DANCERS AT THE END OF TIME books. But maybe that's just me.

Another woman that really should be on the second list is Marjorie Bowen, with THE DEMON LOVER.

There are some mistakes in the second list. It should be Cendrars not Cendars, d'Argol not d'Algol, Hichens not Hichins, Leiris not Leires, Schwob not Shwob, Suskind not Suskin. Also, you have two entries for HADRIAN THE SEVENTH, one under Corvo and one under Rolfe, and two entries for Potocki's SARAGOSSA MANUSCRIPT (one incorrectly as Potacki). Finally, why include a work like Borel's CHAMPAVERT that is not available in English?

Gabriel M

 
At 2:07 AM, Anonymous Jay Tomio said...

Jeff, do you have something against Chabon? Or not up to snuff?

 
At 3:08 AM, Blogger marrije said...

I'd like to add two personal favourites: Paul Auster's 'Mr Vertigo' and (if you're going to add books for younger readers) Roald Dahl's 'The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar', which may have warped me in the direction of fantasy since I read it too many times at an impressionable age.

 
At 3:09 AM, Blogger marrije said...

And no Gaiman??

 
At 8:30 AM, Anonymous Jay Tomio said...

Along with Chabon, I was wondering what you felt about Ambrose Bierce (which admittedly is more ghost/horror related)

 
At 8:48 AM, Blogger Luís Rodrigues said...

While we're issuing corrections, it's Stefan (not Stephane) Grabinksi. And there's no "Afaik" by Ismail Kadaré (As Far As I Know). You probably mean _The Palace of Dreams_.

 
At 8:51 AM, Blogger Luís Rodrigues said...

As for the stuff left unmentioned, please consider: Pavic's _Landscape Painted with Tea_, Saramago's _The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis_, Beckford's _Vathek_, Rabelais's _Gargantua and Pantagruel_, Wilde's _Dorian Gray_ and Morrow's _The Monster Maker_. And not enough Buzzati on the list!

 
At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FIRST: See new post about heroic fantasy, to create a list of that, specifically.

In general, any exhaustive list of fantasy should include stuff I'm not as fond of as well as what I'm fond of or haven't read. (In answer to something above.)

But to run down some of the authors...

I haven't read Chabon's Kavalier & Clay. Summerland is kinda weak.

I think Pavic's Landscape with Tea is horrible.

I've never gotten into the majority of Gaiman's work. I don't mind it. It just isn't my personal favorite.

I thought Auster's Mr. vertigo wasn't as good as some of his others.

Gabriel: Yes, good idea re the Whittemore.

Rich: Re Nabokov--are you talking about my initial list or the main list? For the initial list, I think Pale Fire is the best Nabokov to study. Re Third Policeman and The Last Unicorn--I think both are overrated but certainly should be on any exhaustive list.

Thanks for corrections. It's a work in progress. I didn't intend to copy edit it until it was more complete.

Ambrose Bierce I could take or leave.

JeffV

 
At 10:12 PM, Blogger JP said...

Still, America Gods, at least, deserves mention in an essential list. It isn't so different from things that Powers an Carroll have done, but is possibly better-known and more widely read than their books.

You might want to take a look at Eric McCormack's The Paradise Motel for the longer list. It's a shame that the apathy of Penguin India ensures that you'll never read Vilas Sarang's Fair Tree Of The Void - a sort of mix of Borges, Gogol and Kafka, but with a unique, very Indian identity of its own.

 
At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Spencer said...

This list might be helpful:

http://www.strangewords.com/
weirdbooks/fantasy100.html

 
At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Paul Jessup said...

Also- no Christopher Priest? At all?

If you haven't read him yet, here are some books that you really should read (and should be on this list):

The Prestige (which I think is being turned into a movie)

A Dream of Wessex

and my personal favorite:
The Glamour

 
At 6:19 PM, Anonymous Spencer said...

I loved The Prestige. That should definitely be on the list. Haven't read The Glamour yet, though.

I also recommend Moonwise by Greer Gilman for the list. Not many people have read it, but it's a brilliant, gorgeously-written book.

 
At 4:37 AM, Anonymous Mark Taylor said...

IMHO, Hesse should definitely be in the list. Both Narziss and Goldmund and Steppenwolf are examples of what you could stylistically refer to as 'transcendental fantasy'.

Also, anything by Robert Holstock; Robert Irwin's The Arabian Nightmare; Pullman's His Dark Materials (and by the same token - Milton's Paradise Lost); O'Shea and Wilson's Illuminatus!; Jeanette Winterson's Sexing the Cherry; going back to Fantasy's roots: Homer's The Odyssey; Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Having said all that, I'm not sure of the merits of any fantasy literature list, purely because definition is too broad and nebulous: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantasy

 
At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Mike M said...

Just because there is a lot of international stuff on there, I would recommend Gyula Krudy's _The Adventures of Sindbad_. It's Hungarian and from the late 19th C and I don't know how available it is outside of Hungary (I bought my copy when I lived there). It is a beautiful book - so atmpsheric that things that are decadent and nostalgic and evocative of a fin de siecle atmosphere are called "Krudyesque" in Hungarian - and definitely deserving of a wide readership.

 
At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You wanted more women for your list with a named book. James Tiptree Jr.(Ms. Shelton) Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, 2004. a collection of her best stories except they left out the really funny ones like "I'll be waiting for you when the swimming pool is empty.", 1971. A R.A. Lafferty fan was told to give a book. OK. Nine Hundred Grandmothers(1970) As you say, it's your list but I think these beat some of the books on your list and only entered them because your made a request.

 
At 5:11 AM, Anonymous BenO said...

In the three years since I first contributed to the list, I've read a few more that I'd like to nominate:

Banks, Iain - The Wasp Factory
Beagle, Peter S. - The Innkeeper 's Song
Kadare, Ismail - Palace of Dreams

And some that aren't quite ten years old:

Krausser, Helmut - The Great Bagarozy (1997)
Madsen, David - Confessions of a Flesh-Eater (1997)
O'Leary, Patrick - The Gift (1997)
Pelevin, Victor - The Clay Machine-Gun (1999)
Snyder, Midori - The Innamorati (1998)

Jeff, I'll again recommend that you make some time to read Wendy Walker's The Secret Service - it's the closest thing to Angela Carter's The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman that I can think of.

 
At 8:46 AM, Blogger David B. Williams said...

I have to agree with a couple of other posters, but more strenuously, that you missed the boat regarding Jack Vance, because of the special criteria for your “essential” lists. Budding writers can study Vance with profit, even if they don’t choose to go in his direction. Two substantial books have been published about his work, filled not by gushing fans but by accomplished writers of the most varied sort, all admiring a fellow writer’s craftsmanship.

Others have said it better than I could:

Norman Spinrad: Vance is “perhaps the premier stylist . . . in terms of fusing prose, tone, viewpoint, content, and mood into a seamless, synergetic whole.”

Russell Letson: Vance is “a remarkable and unmistakable stylist whose manner cannot be separated from the matter of his fiction . . . his way with words extends the sense of ‘style’ beyond the decorative to the thematic.”

 
At 12:52 PM, Blogger Eldritch00 said...

Wow, exhaustive is right. Quite a formidable list here. I do have one question:

Why just M. John Harrison's In Viriconium and not the entire cycle?

I ask this not just because Peake is represented by the three Titus Groan novels but also because I get the impression that In Viriconium reads best when the echoes from the earlier novels ring out through that one.

I also think there's something to be said about the impact when the short stories, particularly "A Young Man's Journey Into Viriconium" is read after the novels.

 
At 3:15 AM, Anonymous al said...

No Asterix the Gaul?

 
At 4:47 AM, Anonymous Peter B said...

Here's another vote for Vance, and another vote for The Malacia Tapestry too.

Nonetheless, it looks like David Pringle and the original poster have a lot in common as their lists overlap in a major way.

 
At 9:16 AM, Blogger William Lexner said...

I know you have a lot to read, being a World Fantasy judge, Jeff, but Kavalier and Clay is just about as good as a novel can be. You should really find some time for that -- some day.

A couple of other suggestions:

-The Hereafter Gang by Neil Barret Jr.
-The Story of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
-The King of Elflands Daughter by Lord Dunsany
-She by H. Rider Haggard
-The Moon Pool by Abraham Merritt

 
At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for including my step-father, Percival Krouch, on your Fantasy reading list. He'd have been delighted that his works are still sought out by readers

Idona Laith

 
At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

William:

To be honest, the font on that book has defeated me time and time again. My eyes slide right off of it. Until it comes out in a more readable edition, I doubt I'll be able to read it.

I can't remember who recommended Krouch, Idona, but I'm glad he's on there too. I've only read the short fiction in old anthologies, but am looking forward to tracking the longer work down.

Jeff

 
At 10:59 PM, Blogger The Head said...

R. A. Lafferty

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Not To Mention Camels - A surrealistic tale of a neo-con narcissist.

Fourth Mansions - A psychedelic cartoon that evades interpretation.

Allen

 
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At 10:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont claim to know a lot about fantasy but I do love Robert Jordan's "The Wheel of Time" series, Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" series and the R.A. Salvador books. Why are they not on the list? Are they the wrong kind of fatasy, bad books or just ones you have not read? I look forward to your opinion.

 
At 11:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great list; good call on Barry Hughart. Everyone read Blood Meridian! I have a few books to look up.

To me though, the exhaustive list, at least, should include the first five Amber books, Nine Princes in Amber and the next 4.

Also, it would most certainly include Jack Vance's Dying Earth series and his Lyonesse series. (I typed Demon Princes too, but then recalled that those probably couldn't be properly called Fantasy.) I know Vance has been mentioned a bunch already; I simply have to say it again.

 
At 12:48 PM, Blogger Burkhard Plache said...

Quite a list,
and many of my favourites included.

Anybody familiar with Paul Scheerbart?
http://www.scheerbart.de/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Scheerbart

I read him a score and some years ago,
he is some kind of an oddball but
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are probably worth considering.

Another author rarely mentioned in this context is is Leo Perutz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Perutz).
Most of his novels would probably qualify. I have read "Der schwedische Reiter", and this should be included in your "Phantastic Canon".

Thanks!

 
At 3:05 PM, Blogger CharmingApollo said...

Its an interesting list (of which, I admit, I have read shamefully little). However, I certainly wouldn't say it covers some of the essential fantasy reading.

Regardless of their entertainment value (which I think is very much a matter of personal taste), Homer's Iliad and Odyssey should be read by anyone who wishes to understand the fantasy genre. Although I'm not actually that keen on LotR, it really does need to be one there.

I'd argue against Erewhon as, frankly, it bored me. If you count it as fantasy (if not, use Oryx and Crake instead, which is more unusual), Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale is an amazing dystopian novel. Afterall, if Watership Down gets a mention...

I suppose it all depends on what you count as fantasy. If you use a slightly wider defintion, which might encroach on sci-fi, then H.G. Wells should be on there (any novel), as should Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Also, if Frankenstein is on there, why not Dracula or The Picture of Dorian Gray (the latter more than the former)?

If we allow poetry, Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market and Coleridge's Kubla Khan should both be on there. I highly recommend both to anyone.

And lastly, my plebian side has to come out and praise Feist and Pratchett. Although Eddings is enjoyable, I'll be the first to admit he's not really that skilled an author. But the first two authors have kept their charm despite more educated reading, which should have knocked them down.

Anyway, this rant is way to big but I'm probably just annoyed I have so much reading to do ;) It really is a good list.

Steve

 
At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What? No Anne McCaffrey? Dragons of Pern and all those wonderful stories.

 
At 10:14 PM, Anonymous CreditReader said...

I'm fond of fantasy, really. I have read many books from your list. Which I liked most of all was The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Although the book is hard for reading. Generally I am delighted at russian literature. My dream is to learn russian well.

 
At 6:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just want to say THANK YOU ! for this wondeful list. Very,very much appreciated.

 
At 4:57 AM, Blogger Opra said...

Your list will be rather helpful for those who are interested in fantasy. A good job!:)

 
At 2:33 PM, Blogger scott said...

Great stuff!I love Nabokov.He's certainly one of the best ever in any genre.I highly recommend "King Queen Knave".Peake is a vastly under rated genius.The "Gormenghast Trilogy" is my all time favorite work of fantasy.
As for your list,thanks for the suggestions.Personally I would have included George RR Martin and William Kotzwinkle.

 
At 2:39 PM, Blogger scott said...

PS-I too would argue for the inclusion of Jack Vance's "Dying Earth" series.Great stuff.
Conversely,Terry Goodkind always struck me as a 3rd rate Tolkien.Sorry to anyone taking offense.

 
At 10:48 AM, OpenID fnordsofnorway said...

Strange list having Ouspensky, Jarry, Schulz, and Xuequin with The Story of O and Gene Wolfe as well as Zelazny. Really loosening 'fantasy' and the 'fantastic' from their literary bonds. Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo would probably fit well on this list.

 
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At 11:30 AM, Blogger ahmed abd elrazek said...

Link is always on my subsidiary list of "right-now" authors. As is Ford, so he should probably come off the main list of the 60.

I expected a more violent response re Hesse!

Some of them do feel more stale than before. Not the ones in my top 20, though.

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مدونة ليبياتنا إخبارية

 
At 6:55 AM, Blogger ahmed abd elrazek said...

شقق للبيع في المعادي

شقق للبيع فى القاهرة الجديدة

شقق للبيع فى التجمع الخامس

شقق للبيع في مصر الجديدة

 
At 10:59 AM, Blogger ahmed abd elrazek said...

ايباد

اي باد

 
At 8:02 AM, Blogger ahmed abd elrazek said...

تحميل الواتس اب

حالات واتس اب

فساتين

رمزيات بلاك بيري

 
At 10:03 AM, Blogger ahmed abd elrazek said...

معهد لغة انجليزية

الدراسة في امريكا

الدراسة في بريطانيا

قبول ماجستير في امريكا

قبول بكالوريوس في امريكا

 
At 3:38 AM, Blogger aminos lahragui said...


thnaks for sharing with us that great article
منتديات فوركس

 

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