Class Ranks Top 100 Novels of 20th Century

Two days after Random House Modern Library released a controversial list of its picks for the top 100 books of the twentieth century, students at the Radcliffe Publishing Course released their own version of the list Tuesday, which includes more women authors and a more diverse selection of works.

While the Modern Library's list--which hopes to raise awareness of great books and begin a discussion on the canon of twentieth century English literature--drew criticism from many for including only 10 books by women, about a third of the writers on the Radcliffe list are women. Both the Modern Library's and Radcliffe's lists were meant to be released today at Radcliffe, but both were given to the press early.

"Our list reflects a young, more feminist crowd," said Lindy Hess, director of the publishing course. "[It] shows a difference of age and taste." The six-week class, which is open to men and women, is comprised mostly of recent college graduates and newcomers to the publishing industry.

The Modern Library's list was compiled by an advisory committee of scholars and publishers, including historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. '38, author William Styron, Modern Library board chair Christopher B. Cerf '63 and historian Gore Vidal.

James Joyce's Ulysses topped the Modern Library's list, while The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, took Radcliffe's top spot. Two other books--Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner--won spots in the top 10 of both lists.

But both lists also had books in their top 10 that didn't even make the other's list. Radcliffe's fifth choice, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, wasn't on the Modern Library list, and Arthur Koestler Darkness at Noon, Modern Library's eighth choice, didn't make Radcliffe's top hundred.

Radcliffe's list also included a few more unconvential works, including several children's books and A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Hess warned the lists should not be compared against each other. Echoing the Modern Library, she said the lists are meant to start a discussion on this century's literary canon. "The importance of this exercise is to get word-of-mouth out on old books," she said.

Hess said the Modern Library asked the publishing course to compile their own list in conjunction with the advisory panel's.

Students chose their top 100 from the same initial list of 400 the Modern Library panel started with.

"They were very curious to see what a group like ours thought," she said.

Cerf--whose father lead the fight to lift the ban against Ulysses in the United State--will speak tonight at 7:30 at the Cronkhite Graduate Center to discuss the book lists with students.

Drawing from 400-plus titles provided by the Modern Library, students of the Radcliffe Publishing Course selected these novels:

1.The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

2.The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger

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