22 June

Michael Dirda's Classics for Pleasure specifically responds to Clifton Fadiman's Lifetime Reading Plan. The author explains that he read Fadiman's book as a child, adding, "Over the years I gradually meandered my way through nearly all the works" listed there. He then went on to a doctorate in comparative literature and a position as editor and writer at the Washington Post Book World (which, sadly, in 2009 was discontinued as a separate section within the Sunday paper--as sure a sign as any of the Post's decline in recent years). In turn, Dirda designed Classics for Pleasure not to overlap with the final, 1997 version of Fadiman's plan, arguing that the works listed there are "relatively familiar." So, like Kanigel's Vintage Reading, this book directs its readers to "new authors and less obvious classics."

Dirda, Fadiman, Bloom, and Ward are the closest we get with these "great books" lists to literary criticism at its best. The better writers on literature in recent decades (say, Denis Donaghue, Terry Eagleton, Frank Kermode, George Steiner) do not create such lists--though we'd all be better off if they did.  

The works discussed and recommended in the sixth-eleventh chapters: 'The Dark Side', 'Traveler's Tales', 'The Way We Live Now', 'Realms of Adventure', and 'Encyclopedic Visions':

John Webster (1580?-1625)
The White Devil

The Duchess of Malfi


Mary Shelley (1797-1851)
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus


James Hogg (1770-1835)
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner


Sheridan le Fanu (1814-1873)
Ghost Stories
(incl. 'Green Tea';
Carmilla;
'Mr. Justice Harbottle';
'The Dead Sexton')

Uncle Silas

The House by the Churchyard*


Bram Stoker (1847-1912)
Dracula


M R James (1862-1936)
Collected Ghost Stories
(incl. 'Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book';
'The Mezzotint';
'The Treasure of Abbot Thomas';
'Casting the Runes';
'A Warning to the Curious';
'Count Magnus';
'The Diary of Mr. Poynter';
'Mr. Humphreys and His Inheritance')


William Roughead (1870-1952)
Tales of the Criminous (1906-1946) 
(incl. anthologies The Evil That Men Do and
Classic Crimes)


H P Lovecraft (1890-1937)
Selected Short Stories
(incl. 'The Dunwich Horror';
The Shadow Out of Time;
'The Colour Out of Space';
'The Thing on the Doorstep';
'The Call of Cthulhu')

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

At the Mountains of Madness

'Supernatural Horror in Literature'*

The Shadow Over Innsmouth*


Thomas More (1487-1535)
Utopia


Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)
A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain

Robinson Crusoe*

A Journal of the Plague Year*

Moll Flanders*

A True Relation of the Apparition of One Mrs. Veal*

 
Xavier de Maistre (1763-1852)
A Journey Around My Room

A Nocturnal Expedition Around My Room


Jules Verne (1828-1905)
A Journey to the Center of the Earth

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Around the World in Eighty Days

The Mysterious Island

Other Works
(incl. The Adventures of Captain Hatteras;
The Will of an Eccentric;
The Begum's Millions;
'Dr. Ox's Experiment';
Master of the World;
Robur the Conquerer;
Mathias Sandorf;
Jules Verne and Michael Verne - The Barsac Mission;
Jules Verne and Michael Verne - 'The Eternal Adam')


J K Huysmans  (1848-1907)
A Rebours

Là-Bas


Isak Dinesen (1885-1962)
Out of Africa

Seven Gothic Tales

Other Stories
(incl. 'The Roads Around Pisa';
'The Monkey';
'Babette's Feast';
'The Deluge at Norderney')


Robert Byron (1905-1941)
The Road to Oxiana

The Station*

The Byzantine Achievement*


Petronius (first century)
Satyricon


Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865)
Cranford

Other Works 
(incl. The Life of Charlotte Bronte;
North and South;
Mary Barton)


Ivan Goncharov (1812-1891)
Oblomov


José Maria Eça de Queiros (1845-1900)
The Crime of Father Amaro

Cousin Bazilio

The Maias

The Relic*

The Illustrious House of Ramires*

The Yellow Sofa*  


Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)
Short Stories
(incl. 'Gooseberries';
'A Dreary Story';
'The Darling';
'Gusev';
'Ward No. 6';
'The Lady With the Dog';
'The Bishop')

Letters

Plays 
(incl. The Sea Gull;
The Three Sisters;
Uncle Vanya)


Jean Toomer (1894-1967)
Cane


Willa Cather (1873-1947)
Death Comes for the Archbishop

A Lost Lady

Other Books
(incl. The Professor's House;
The Song of the Lark;
My Mortal Enemy)


Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1894-1961)
Death on the Installment Plan

Journey to the End of the Night


Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)
Their Eyes Were Watching God


Eudora Welty (1909-2001)
Collected Stories

Losing Battles*

The Optimist's Daughter*


H Rider Haggard (1856-1925)
She

King Soloman's Mines


Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Lost World

The Captain of the 'Polestar' and Other Stories

'Lot No. 249'*

'The Horror of the Heights'*

Brigadier Gerard stories*

Captain Sharkey stories*


Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
Kim

Short Stories
(incl. 'Without Benefit of Clergy';
'The Phantom Rickshaw'; 
'The Miracle of Purun Bhagat';
'The Man Who Would Be King'; 
'Mary Postgate';
'Dayspring Mishandled';
'The Village That Voted the Earth Was Flat';
'Wireless';
'The Finest Story in the World')


H G Wells (1866-1946)
The Time Machine

Other Works
(incl. The Island of Dr. Moreau;
The War of the Worlds;
The Invisible Man;
The First Men in the Moon;
'The Crystal Egg';
'The Truth About Pyecraft';
'Pollock and the Porroh Man';
'The Sea Raiders';
'The Plattner Story';
'The Country of the Blind')


G K Chesterton (1874-1936)
The Man Who Was Thursday

The Father Brown Mysteries
(incl. 'The Tremendous Adventures of Major Brown';
anthology The Club of Queer Trades;
'The Blue Cross';
'The Hammer of God';
'The Oracle of the Dog';
'The Sins of Prince Saradine';
'The Invisible Man')

Essays, Journalism, and Short Stories


Agatha Christie (1890-1976)
The Hercule Point Mysteries 
(incl. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd;
Murder on the Orient Express;
The A B C Murders)

The Jane Maple Mysteries 
(incl. What Mrs. Magillicuddy Shaw;
The Mirror Crack'd;
The Moving Finger)

And Then There Were None*

Dorothy L Sayers - Gaudy Night*


Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961)
The Maltese Falcon

Other Works
(incl. Red Harvest;
'The Whosis Kid')
       

Ovid (43 B C-A D 17)
Metamorphoses


Robert Burton (1577-1640)
The Anatomy of Melancholy


Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Memoirs of My Life and Writings


J G Frazer (1854-1941)
The Golden Bough (incl. Adonis, Attis, Osiris)


H W Fowler (1858-1933)
A Dictionary of Modern English Usage


Ezra Pound (1885-1972)
Selected Poetry
(incl. Cathay;
Hugh Selwyn Mauberley;
Homage to Sextus Propertius;
Personae;
The Cantos)

Literary Essays

The Spirit of Romance

The A B C of Reading

Letters


Andre Malraux (1901-1976)
Man's Fate

Man's Hope

The Voices of Silence


Philip K Dick (1928-1982)
The Man in the High Castle

Other Novels and Stories
(incl. Martian Time-Slip;
Dr. Bloodmoney;
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?;
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch;
A Scanner Darkley;
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said;
Valis)