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KEV67

Which is the greatest Great American Novel

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For me it is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but like an Olympic sprinter who starts to celebrate too soon, it was nearly caught by Moby Dick.

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My favourites are

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Any of the John Steinbeck novels, especially Cannery Row.

Edited by Marie H

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Of those that I've read, for me Moby Dick is far and away the greatest.  But there are quite a few I have yet to read (my American literature remains patchy in spite of my tour of the USA), perhaps most glaringly the two big Steinbecks, The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden.  Based on my experience of some of his shorter novels, they will surely at least challenge closely.

 

I enjoyed Huck Finn, but didn't find it that good.  Perhaps the most commonly cited contender, The Great Gatsby, I personally find something of a disappointment.  Studied it for A-level and it never impressed.

Edited by willoyd

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On 01/12/2021 at 5:10 PM, Marie H said:

My favourites are

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Any of the John Steinbeck novels, especially Cannery Row.

 

I read the Grapes of Wrath. I found it unremittingly miserable. I thought this man was trying to win a Pulitzer. I thought to myself that Woody Guthrie did this dust bowl depression stuff much better, but then I found out Woody Guthrie was inspired to sing about the dust bowl after reading Grapes of Wrath.

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1 hour ago, willoyd said:

Of those that I've read, for me Moby Dick is far and away the greatest.  But there are quite a few I have yet to read (my American literature remains patchy in spite of my tour of the USA), perhaps most glaringly the two big Steinbecks, The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden.  Based on my experience of some of his shorter novels, they will surely at least challenge closely.

 

I enjoyed Huck Finn, but didn't find it that good.  Perhaps the most commonly cited contender, The Great Gatsby, I personally find something of a disappointment.  Studied it for A-level and it never impressed.

The Great Gatsby left me feeling nonplussed. If it wasn't for  its reputation I would have said it was a good book, but I would not have picked it out as the greatest American book of the 20th century, or one of them. It has a reputation for containing a lot of hidden messages and symbology. The green light refers back to something in Greek mythology. There's quite an interesting theory that Gatsby is passing for white. I suspect some of it might have gone over my head, but if you have to read a guide to understand why a book is a work of genius, you have to wonder how good that book is to the ordinary reader.

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10 minutes ago, KEV67 said:

The Great Gatsby left me feeling nonplussed. If it wasn't for  its reputation I would have said it was a good book, but I would not have picked it out as the greatest American book of the 20th century, or one of them. It has a reputation for containing a lot of hidden messages and symbology. The green light refers back to something in Greek mythology. There's quite an interesting theory that Gatsby is passing for white. I suspect some of it might have gone over my head, but if you have to read a guide to understand why a book is a work of genius, you have to wonder how good that book is to the ordinary reader.

 

Yes, I'd pretty much agree with all of that!

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One thing about the Great American Novel is that it is a bit early 20th century, notwithstanding Moby Dick, Huck Finn, and Little Women. I mean there's Catch 22, but that's 1960s. After that, I am not sure who is worth reading. I started reading one Rabbit book by John Updike, but gave up. Portney's Complaint sounds unpleasant. David Foster Wallace sounds difficult. I read one Saul Bellow, which was good, but I was not tempted to read him again. Perhaps the concept has expired.

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On 12/1/2021 at 12:10 PM, Marie H said:

My favourites are

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Any of the John Steinbeck novels, especially Cannery Row.

I agree with you. In addition, not only is Steinbeck one of the great American writers, he is one of the best writers period.

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