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The Elegant Variation: Critic James Wood's Best Books Since 1945

Back in 1994, prompted by Harold Bloom's 'The Western Canon', James Wood presented Guardian readers with his own list of the best British and American writing since 1945. Wood says he sought to "avoid the 'representative', 'important' or 'influential' and chose, instead, books which I like, which seemed to me deep and beautiful, which aerate the soul and abrase the conscience ... "
BTW, I bet I won't be the only one who had to look up the meaning of 'abrase'. James Wood has been Professor of the Practice of Literary Criticism at Harvard University since 2014.
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1
The Siege of Krishnapur (J.G. Farrell)
The Siege of Krishnapur (J.G. Farrell)
2
My Sister's Hand in Mine: The Collected Works of Jane Bowles (Jane Bowles)
My Sister's Hand in Mine: The Collected Works of Jane Bowles (Jane Bowles)
3
The Go-Between (L.P. Hartley)
The Go-Between (L.P. Hartley)
4
The Naked and the Dead (Norman Mailer)
The Naked and the Dead (Norman Mailer)
5
The Armies of the Night (Norman Mailer)
The Armies of the Night (Norman Mailer)
6
How German Is It (Walter Abish)
How German Is It (Walter Abish)
7
Stories in an Almost Classical Mode
Stories in an Almost Classical Mode
8
The Messiah of Stockholm (Cynthia Ozick)
The Messiah of Stockholm (Cynthia Ozick)
9
Art and Ardour (Cynthia Ozick)
Art and Ardour (Cynthia Ozick)
10
Naked Lunch (William S. Burroughs)
Naked Lunch (William S. Burroughs)
11
Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut)
Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut)
12
The Complete Poems (Elizabeth Bishop)
The Complete Poems (Elizabeth Bishop)
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13
The Stories of John Cheever (John Cheever)
The Stories of John Cheever (John Cheever)
14
Falconer (John Cheever)
Falconer (John Cheever)
15
Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison)
Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison)
16
The Wrong Set (Angus Wilson)
The Wrong Set (Angus Wilson)
17
Hemlock and After (Angus Wilson)
Hemlock and After (Angus Wilson)
18
Anglo-Saxon Attitudes (Angus Wilson)
Anglo-Saxon Attitudes (Angus Wilson)
19
A Fan's Notes (Frederick Exley)
A Fan's Notes (Frederick Exley)
20
Poetry and the Age (Randall Jarrell)
Poetry and the Age (Randall Jarrell)
21
Life Studies (Robert Lowell)
Life Studies (Robert Lowell)
22
For the Union Dead (Robert Lowell)
For the Union Dead (Robert Lowell)
23
Near the Ocean (Robert Lowell)
Near the Ocean (Robert Lowell)
24
The Assistant (Bernard Malamud)
The Assistant (Bernard Malamud)
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25
The Stories of Bernard Malamud (Bernard Malamud)
The Stories of Bernard Malamud (Bernard Malamud)
26
The Collected Stories (William Trevor) (William Trevor)
The Collected Stories (William Trevor) (William Trevor)
27
The Fire Next Time (James Baldwin)
The Fire Next Time (James Baldwin)
28
Giovanni's Room (James Baldwin)
Giovanni's Room (James Baldwin)
29
Sula (Toni Morrison)
Sula (Toni Morrison)
30
Beloved (Toni Morrison)
Beloved (Toni Morrison)
31
Loving (Henry Green)
Loving (Henry Green)
32
Concluding (Henry Green)
Concluding (Henry Green)
33
Nothing (Henry Green)
Nothing (Henry Green)
34
The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov (Howard Nemerov)
The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov (Howard Nemerov)
35
Still Life (A.S. Byatt)
Still Life (A.S. Byatt)
36
A House for Mr. Biswas (V.S. Naipaul)
A House for Mr. Biswas (V.S. Naipaul)
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37
In a Free State (V.S. Naipaul)
In a Free State (V.S. Naipaul)
38
The Enigma of Arrival
The Enigma of Arrival
39
If I Die in a Combat Zone
If I Die in a Combat Zone
40
The Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro)
The Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro)
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