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View Poll Results: Vote for MobileRead's best fiction book of 1911-1920
Ethan Frome by Edit Warton Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
Der Tod in Venedig/Death in Venice by Thomas Mann Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
À la recherche du temps perdu/In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
Sons and Lovers by David Herbert Richards Lawrence Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
Kokoro by Natsume Sōseki Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
Die Verwandlung/The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Brown Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
Of Human Bondage by William Somerset Maugham Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
Le Feu/Under Fire by Henri Barbusse Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
You Know Me Al by Ring Lardner Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
Der Untertan/The Loyal Subject by Heinrich Mann Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
Main Street by Sinclair Lewis Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs Votes are hidden until this poll is closed
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Old 05-16-2015, 06:45 AM   #1
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Vote for MobileRead's best fiction book of 1911-1920

This is the second voting thread for choosing MobileRead's ten best fiction books of the 20th Century. This thread covers 1911-1920.

VOTING IS NOW OPEN. Voting totals will be hidden until the poll ends (so that no-one is influenced by previously recorded votes), and voting will be anonymous.

You are, of course, welcome to make your choice known in the discussion thread associated with this poll.

The nominations and nominators are:
  1. 1911 Ethan Frome by Edith Warton (1862-1937) epub, mobi (frddgls)
  2. 1911 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924) epub, mobi (Synamon)
  3. 1912 The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918) epub, mobi (Rizla)
  4. 1912 Der Tod in Venedig/Death in Venice by Thomas Mann (1875-1955) Gutenberg (German), Amazon UK (sun surfer)
  5. 1913 À la recherche du temps perdu/In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (1871-1922) Amazon UK(pynch)
  6. 1913 Sons and Lovers by David Herbert Richards Lawrence (1885-1930) mobi, Gutenberg (missimpossible)
  7. 1914 Kokoro by Natsume Sōseki (1867-1916) Amazon UK (HomeInMyShoes)
  8. 1915 The Metamorphosis/Die Verwandlung by Franz Kafka (1883-1924) English at Gutenberg; German epub, mobi(dickloraine)
  9. 1915 The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Brown (1873-1939) epub, mobi (issybird)
  10. 1915 The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (1875-1940) epub, mobi (EndlessWaves)
  11. 1915 Of Human Bondage by William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Gutenberg, Amazon UK (spellbanisher)
  12. 1915 The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis (1876-1938) Gutenberg (Lynx-lynx)
  13. 1916 The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain (1835-1910) Gutenberg (Ralph Sir Edward)
  14. 1916 Le Feu/Under Fire by Henri Barbusse (1875-1935) epub (French), Gutenberg(BelleZora)
  15. 1916 You Know Me Al( by Ring Lardner (1885-1933) Amazon UK (GA Russell)
  16. 1918 Der Untertan/The Loyal Subject by Heinrich Mann (1871-1950) Gutenberg (German) (knuthmeyer)
  17. 1918 The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington (1869-1946) Gutenberg, Amazon UK (Hamlet53)
  18. 1920 Main Street by Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) Gutenberg, Amazon UK (obs)
  19. 1914 Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) Gutenberg(gmw)

All these books in their original language are in the USA public domain. Some translations will still be in copyright. If the author or translator died after 1944, the book is still in copyright in the EU.

Links are given to copies in our library, to the Project Gutenberg copy and/or to the title at Amazon UK, if available.

Nominators should post about their nominated book, and everyone is welcome to discuss the relative merits of the nominations

Last edited by pdurrant; 05-22-2015 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:54 AM   #2
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OK - I'll start. Again, my reading is not that broad in this decade. Having said that, I was so impressed with Ethan Frome when I read it with the book club. It had a dark tragic feel to it (always works well with me) combined with a beautiful writing style that kept me fascinated throughout.

I could only pick one and it was a toss-up between this one and Death In Venice, so I consider this also to be a pick that missed out on a technicality. I studied this along with The Metamorphosis (also in this list) in German literature. I'm planning to read Death In Venice again next year along with a couple of other Mann's novellas as I want to experience this tragic, idealised and imagined love affair again.

The only other book I've read in this list is The Thirty-Nine Steps which I found a bit ordinary.
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Old 05-16-2015, 10:21 AM   #3
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I expect my percentage read to fall from decade to decade and I'm already down to 13/19. This one will take more thought.

In terms of the urnead, I'd never heard of Night Land or Sentimental Bloke until now. I've always meant to read Proust (I know I've got a lot of company there), but it's not going to happen in the next month. I might give Lardner a try if I find the time, but I'm probably going to end up voting on the basis of those I've already read.

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Old 05-16-2015, 12:00 PM   #4
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Paul, any chance you're going to correct the subject line? (wrong dates)
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Old 05-16-2015, 12:07 PM   #5
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Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Do I have to tell you what this book is about? An English Lord and his wife are stranded in Africa by a shipwreck. They have a baby, but die before he is one year old, and the baby is rescued and raised by great apes in the African jungle.

Unsurprisingly, given when it was written, the book is quite racist and sexist. You can't really help but come away from it thinking that Tarzan only becomes the great and honourable hero we all know because of his lordly, white, English heritage. And Jane swoons at all the right times. The African wildlife is presented as needed for dramatic purposes only, you certainly don't come to this book looking to be educated; even the "great apes" (something like a cross between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, that are central to main part of the story) are entirely fictional. The writing is unashamedly commercial; short, dramatic, heavily romanticised, cliff-hanger chapter endings - the works.

So why did I nominate it?

Okay, first let me admit that that I haven't read much from this decade in recent times, so my choices for nominations were limited. But there are reasons to take the nomination seriously.

Firstly: It's a great yarn. It's fantasy, you're not supposed to take it too seriously - I'm pretty sure the author didn't. Put aside your more tender sensibilities about political correctness and it can be great fun.

Secondly: Influence. There is something about this story that has sparked ongoing interest. Movies, comics, books, television series, action figures - and so on. Whatever you think about the quality of the original work, it has been a hit with many people over many years. And, even more than that. Tarzan is now an iconic figure. The name has become part of the English language - he's even in the OED! Great literature it might not be, but it's undoubtedly been a memorable and popular book.
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Old 05-16-2015, 12:12 PM   #6
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Paul, any chance you're going to correct the subject line? (wrong dates)
Thanks! (Copy/paste error)
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Old 05-16-2015, 09:07 PM   #7
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Songs of the Sentimental Bloke is a wonderfully executed and quite hilarious verse novel* by the Aus novelist and poet CJ Dennis.

The story is about Bill, a larrikin in early 19th century Melbourne, who meets a young woman, Doreen. The book chronicles their courtship and marriage, detailing Bill's transformation from a violence-prone gang member to a contented husband and father.

Dennis achieves a grand visual picture in a very short 80 or so pages, and your heart warms to his characters and their everyday plights. A wonderful insight into early 20th Century Melbourne.

*verse novel - for info see:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verse_novel

Here is the Adelaide Uni free ebooks url for Dennnis' works: https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/d/dennis/cj/

On another note, as to books so far read in this decade, hmm, two completed books (CJ Dennis and Buchan), and two partly completed some time ago (Proust and DH Lawrence).

I shall certainly be reading Kafka and at the very least one other before the voting period ends.

Edit
There is a Glossary of Terms in the back of the Adelaide Uni book, which will help out those unfamiliar with Aus slang.

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Old 05-17-2015, 01:57 AM   #8
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Songs of the Sentimental Bloke is a wonderfully executed and quite hilarious verse novel* by the Aus novelist and poet CJ Dennis...
It has been decades since I had read this and is well worth a little time put aside to do so. In fact Lynx-lynx's nomination's reminding me of it has prompted me to build my own eBooky version to keep under my pillow with Clancy and friends .

Should be pretty easy going for non fair-dinkum Australians and NZ'ers.

Not saying this is what I would vote for but as it is a bit of a wild card among the nominations in that it is verse and not well known outside of the Antipodes (and I suspect much less known even in NZ than the works of contemporaries such as 'Banjo' Paterson and Henry Lawson) it would be a pity if it was passed over without a try by readers.

There was a VERY important early silent Oz film adaption "The Sentimental Bloke" made shortly after the book was published and is worth a look to help the understanding and also see Oz life in early 20th Century. A number of copies are floating around on the internet but due to the "lost and found" and subsequent restorations nature of the material I am reticent to link to them as I am unsure of copyright; but you all know where to go don't you.
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Old 05-18-2015, 02:33 PM   #9
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Would other nominators please comment about their nomination? Thanks.
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Old 05-18-2015, 05:34 PM   #10
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So start off by getting this in . . .

I really enjoyed the Magnificent Ambersons when I read it. A multi-generational tale of a family. The senior patriarch through skill and luck amasses a fortune. Mainly though the story is about how subsequent generations mistake inherited wealth for meritocracy, develop a false sense of class superiority, and as a result wind up living lives that are anything but happy and descend into the economic class from which in one generation they arose. This book sucked me in from the first chapter.

There is also a very good film adaption, in no small part due to direction by Orson Welles and with Welles as a narrator.

There are a lot of great books nominated here. Not even sure if I will even end up voting for my nomination . Kokoro, I wish I'd thought of that. I really like The Metamorphosis, but did not nominate it because it is really a short story and I already nominated The Trial (IMHO a far better book) for the next decade. Ethan Fromme, Death in Venice, Of Human Bondage, Under Fire—choices, choices . I know before being certain of making a proper vote I'll have to at least read The Good Solider and Main Street as well. This is probably not going to get my vote for best book, but maybe I'll read Tarzan of the Apes. If for nothing else then to read the source material for all those Johnny Weissmuller films that were a staple of my Saturday morning television viewing when I was little. I'd like to see Mark Twain get recognized, but his best work really dates to the 19th Century.

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Old 05-18-2015, 07:25 PM   #11
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Mark Twain's The Mysterious Stranger...

In a way, it's sort of an Atheist's Book of Revelations.

I like to think of it as a philosophical submarine, running silent, running deep, stalking its prey until the last moment when it pops its periscope and fires its fish. On the nose!

Most people would think of it as a so-so comedy. In actuality it is an intensely philosophical book. But the philosophy is deeply hidden until you read the end. And suddenly you've take a half dozen philosphical topedoes, and are going down quick. All in 130 pages (or so).

Certainly worth a read.
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Old 05-19-2015, 10:36 AM   #12
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I'm not sure what I can write about my nomination as it is such a simple, yet unrelenting book.

Kokoro by Natsume Soseki is a quiet study of what it means to be human. To err; to die; to live; to learn; to teach; to try to change. Many things in a simply told story. In books that leave marks this book left a large mark on me.

This book will make you look inside and contemplate your life and to come to terms with its inconsistencies, its errors, its flaws. Humanity is that: erring and moving on in our own ways.
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Old 05-20-2015, 12:42 AM   #13
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Tarzan of the Apes

You can't really help but come away from it thinking that Tarzan only becomes the great and honourable hero we all know because of his lordly, white, English heritage.
gmw, I've never read the book, but I got a copy of it for Christmas, and I'll plan to read it in the next couple of weeks.

I'm a little surprised about your comment, because I thought that everybody knew that. But my understanding was that the emphasis was not on his white skin but on his blue blood. I thought that the idea was that Tarzan was a noble, and therefore was better than us commonfolk, even if raised in the jungle by apes.

But I'll read it, and then find out if my assumption is correct.
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Old 05-20-2015, 01:11 AM   #14
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gmw, I've never read the book, but I got a copy of it for Christmas, and I'll plan to read it in the next couple of weeks.

I'm a little surprised about your comment, because I thought that everybody knew that. But my understanding was that the emphasis was not on his white skin but on his blue blood. I thought that the idea was that Tarzan was a noble, and therefore was better than us commonfolk, even if raised in the jungle by apes.

But I'll read it, and then find out if my assumption is correct.
I made my comment because I am not sure how many have actually read the original book - as opposed to watching Tarzan on TV etc. (not that the adaptations were necessarily much better). So I though it was best that anyone thinking of picking up the book for the first time should not come to it looking for high-minded literature.

It is possible that my reaction is also coloured by the books that follow, which don't improve on the situation (Burroughs regularly borrows the prejudices of the times to short-circuit character development, particularly in his villains). There is also the question of whether "lordly" and "white" become implicit synonyms in the presentation. (Why aren't the native chiefs all as smart and strong and noble as Tarzan?) ... But I don't want to spoil it. It's not really that much different to what a lot of modern commercial fiction does, just that the acceptable prejudices have changed in the last hundred years. I still think it's a fun read.

I will be interested to hear your reactions.
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Old 05-20-2015, 07:02 AM   #15
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The Thirty Nine Steps is a book that works well because of it's simplicity. The narrator and hero is likeable, the action moves fast and the enemy plot is obscure without being difficult to follow. It manages to hold on to it's own character in the face of later similar novels and contains a couple of memorable scenes.

It's simply an example of good storytelling. A hundred year old novel that's as engrossing as something published today. I've found few other novels of that age can match it for pure readability.
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