NABOKV-L post 0006528, Wed, 8 May 2002 11:42:59 -0700

Tilting at Victory, 'Quixote' Tops Authors' Poll (fwd)

I have a feeling that V.N. would harrumph if he saw this.

Tilting at Victory, 'Quixote' Tops Authors' Poll

May 8, 2002


OSLO, May 7 (Reuters) - "Don Quixote" was voted the world's
best work of fiction by a poll of some of the world's
leading authors.

Miguel de Cervantes's 17th-century novel about a knight
crazed by reading too many romances about chivalry, who
goes on a mad quest accompanied by his levelheaded servant,
was comfortably ahead of Proust's "Remembrance of Things
Past" in the poll of 100 writers from 54 countries. It
eclipsed the plays of Shakespeare and works by authors from
Homer to Tolstoy.

"If there is one novel you should read before you die, it
is `Don Quixote,' " said Ben Okri, a Nigerian-born author
who won the Booker Prize and wrote the introduction to a
new Norwegian edition of the book.

"It has the most wonderful and elaborated story, yet it is
simple," he told a news conference today at the Norwegian
Nobel Institute.

"Don Quixote" was a runaway winner, collecting 50 percent
more votes than Proust's book in the survey of writers
including Salman Rushdie, Milan Kundera, John le Carré,
John Irving, Nadine Gordimer, Carlos Fuentes and Norman

Alf van der Hagen, an editor with the Norwegian Book Clubs,
which organized the poll, said most authors had welcomed
the request to name their 10 favorites in world literature,
but he admitted that some, like Isabel Allende, had
declined and even criticized the project.

"And from some," he said, "we never got an answer, such as
Bob Dylan. We never heard anything from Gabriel García
Márquez either, even though he is represented on the list
with two books."

The poll was organized as part of a drive to promote
classical literature against challenges from television,
videos and computer games.

Ten authors had more than one work on the list. Dostoyevsky
led with four, Kafka, Shakespeare and Tolstoy had three,
while Faulkner, Flaubert, García Márquez, Homer, Thomas
Mann and Virginia Woolf had two each.

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