Author Topic: Most famous books?  (Read 5122 times)

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Offline Apeiron

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Most famous books?
« on: April 27, 2008, 04:16:32 AM »
Sabbie and I were discussing yesterday what would be the most famous book ever, and what would be the most famous books in various categories. I'd love to see some more input on this. Please only post books that you know are really famous, not just books you think should be known about by everyone.

Pre-classical, classical and medieval books
I'm pretty sure that would be the Bible as absolute number one, followed by the Quran, and the Mahabharata, (perhaps also Ramayana and some of the Vedas). Homer's Iliad and Odyssey (though of course, it is extremely unlikely that they were composed by one individual) would rank highly.

Moving away from the old religious texts: some of Plato's work (in particular Republic and Symposium), Aristotle (I'd guess Nicomachean Ethics is best known), and St. Augustine's City of God.

Post-medieval, but before 19th/20th century
The Malleus Maleficarum, which was the handbook for the Spanish Inquisition, as well as Macchiavelli's The Prince, Copernicus' De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. Shakespeare (probably especially Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet), Francis Bacon's Novum Organum, Newton's Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica and Kant's Kritik der reinen Vernunft.

I'm sure there's tons missing here, so please post!

19th/20th century: non-fiction
Darwin's Origin of Species, Marx's Das Kapital, Hitler's Mein Kampf, Mao's Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (Little Red Book).

19th/20th century: fiction
Personally I think the winner in this category would be Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but other top contenders are: Melville's Moby-Dick, Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, Dicken's A Christmas Carol, various Sherlock Holmes books by Arthur Conan Doyle, various books by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea.

---

So if I had to choose the all-time most famous book, it would surely be the Bible. As for modern fictional works, it would be Alice in Wonderland though I'm not entirely sure about that one.

I know that there are many books I'm missing. Some that I would definitely come up with if I'd just think about it a few minutes longer, but perhaps also some that I had never really checked out. So please help and post your nominees for the most famous books of all time :)

Offline Nomen Nescio

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Re: Most famous books?
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2008, 04:52:11 AM »
The Wizard of Oz has buried itself firmly in the American consciousness, at least, by virtue of its film adaptation.

I would think James Joyce's Ulysses and Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow would make the list, as well.
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Offline Mr. K Dilkington

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Re: Most famous books?
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2008, 04:59:08 AM »
I suppose it depends on the time. Right now, the Da Vinci Code surely has to be the most famous book, or Harry Potter or something. Right?

Offline Nomen Nescio

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Re: Most famous books?
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2008, 05:02:05 AM »
I suppose it depends on the time. Right now, the Da Vinci Code surely has to be the most famous book, or Harry Potter or something. Right?

...

Perhaps we should define the word "famous" a bit before continuing, eh?
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Offline Mr. K Dilkington

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Re: Most famous books?
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2008, 05:08:19 AM »
Yeah that was my point.

Offline Apeiron

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Re: Most famous books?
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2008, 07:34:59 AM »
Well let's stay in the spirit of true classics.

Offline thefellswooper

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Re: Most famous books?
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2008, 10:55:35 AM »
I think we're bound to be decidedly eurocentric on this topic.  If "famous" is to be quantified, the Analects of Confucius and The Art of War probably outstrip all the books mentioned above except the Bible, and maybe the Vedas (which I'd probably put above the Mahabharata and Ramayana, at least for the Upanishads).   Edit: On second thought, maybe not, given illiteracy rates in China.  I guess I'm not sure.

I'm quite confident that >90% of college graduates in America have never even heard of Gravity's Rainbow, so, no.

Randomly selected but extremely notable absences from the lists above: The Epic of Gilgamesh (but not really a book, per se), Faust, Frankenstein, Beowulf, Canterbury Tales, Don Quixote, La Morte D'Arthur.  Let see, nothing French yet.  Maybe Candide, Madame Bovary, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2008, 11:02:03 AM by thefellswooper »
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Offline Apeiron

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Re: Most famous books?
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2008, 12:01:03 PM »
Thanks, so far I've found quite a few that are indeed extremely famous! I think Dracula and Lolita haven't been mentioned yet.

Offline thefellswooper

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Re: Most famous books?
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2008, 01:10:34 PM »
Oh, good heavens: The 1,001 Nights.  And Aesop's Fables.  And Grimms' Märchen.

And War and Peace, Moby Dick, Tale of Two Cities.

It's hard to know where to stop, but all of these probably belong in the top 25.
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Offline Mrs B

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Re: Most famous books?
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2008, 03:54:59 PM »
Off the top of my head:

The Jewish War - Josephus
The Conquest of Gaul - Caesar

Decamerone - Giovanni Boccaccio
La Divina Comedia - Dante Alighieri
Utopia - Sir Thomas More

The Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux
The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
Gullivers Travels - Jonathan Swift
Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain

and....

It is one thing to show a man that he is in an error, and another to put him into possession of the truth---John Locke (1632-1704)

Offline heliocentricra

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Re: Most famous books?
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2008, 08:18:31 PM »
In America, I'd say two of the most famous are To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye. Everyone had to read those in middle school/high school.

Offline Black_Magic

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Re: Most famous books?
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2008, 07:46:03 AM »
ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand?

1984 by George Orwell

THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald

BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
« Last Edit: April 28, 2008, 07:47:42 AM by Black_Magic »
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Offline Mrs B

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Re: Most famous books?
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2008, 07:50:48 AM »
ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand?
I am sorry to say I have never heard of that book.  :-[  Did I miss anything? Should I have read it?
It is one thing to show a man that he is in an error, and another to put him into possession of the truth---John Locke (1632-1704)

Offline Apeiron

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Re: Most famous books?
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2008, 07:52:18 AM »
Atlas Shrugged is a very famous book, you should have heard of it*. Not sure if you should have read it (I haven't), it has received a whole lot of criticism.

*It was even mentioned in South Park a couple of times in the episode that Officer Barbrady learned to read

Offline kb

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Re: Most famous books?
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2008, 09:51:08 AM »
(Fyodor Dostoevsky)3

And the most famous book "no one" (including me) has ever read "In Search of Lost Time" by Marcel Proust, some 4000 pages long...
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