Thursday, 5 January 2006

Essential novels for theologians

“Philosophy, religion, science, they are all of them busy nailing things down, to get a stable equilibrium.... But the novel, no.... If you try to nail things down in the novel, either it kills the novel, or the novel gets up and walks away with the nail.” — D. H. Lawrence

My friend Kim Fabricius (who sometimes posts at Connexions) sent me this list of 15 essential novels for theologians, and he has allowed me to post it here.

1. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (1850)
2. Herman Melville, Moby Dick (1851)
3. George Eliot, Middlemarch (1872)
4. Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenin (1876)
5. Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov (1880)
6. Franz Kafka, The Trial (1925)
7. Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory (1940)
8. Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus (1947)
9. Albert Camus, The Plague (1947)
10. Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (1952)
11. J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (1955)
12. William Golding, The Spire (1964)
13. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (1975)
14. Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose (1983)
15. Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)

This is an excellent list, although I might have wanted to include Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Patrick White’s Riders in the Chariot, and Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda, as well as anything by Charles Dickens and Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf. Oh, and something by John Updike and Salman Rushdie and A. S. Byatt.


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