NABOKV-L post 0018397, Mon, 22 Jun 2009 08:39:38 -0400

top 10 books (plus 2) ever written ...

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The top 10 books (plus 2) ever written

Best-ever lists have a well deserved reputation as vanity projects of the “look what a smartie pants I am!” variety. However, they are also a good tool for keeping critics honest.

Critics can spend a great deal of time making of fun of what they don’t like, without ever having to declare what they do. This is quite different from artists, who expose their minds, their hearts – the very value of the lives – to ridicule whenever they create something.

So in the spirit of “letting the other guy in the duel have something to shoot at, too,” here is my top 10 (plus 2) list of the best books ever written.

Hamlet, William Shakespeare. No points for courage or originality on this one, but Hamlet is great, and he is the great model for characters in novels, and the artist as hero, with which we’re still living today.

Pnin, Vladimir Nabokov. The one true moral responsibility of art is to strengthen our imaginative sympathy for other people. Nabokov’s exploration of the deep humanity within the seemingly comic figure of Professor Timofrey Pnin is the most perfect example of this in English.

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