Friday, July 6, 2007

Booking Through Thursday (On Friday)

What, in your opinion, is the (mythical) Great American Novel? At least to date. A “classic,” or a current one–either would be fine. Mark Twain? J.D. Salinger? F. Scott Fitzgerald? Stephen King? Laura Ingalls Wilder?

It doesn’t have to be your favorite book, mind you. “Citizen Kane” may be the “best” film, and I concede its merits, but it’s not my favorite. You don’t have to love something to know that it’s good.

Now, I know that not all of you are American–but you can play, too! What I want from you is to know what you consider to the best novel of YOUR country. It might be someone the rest of us haven’t heard of and, frankly, I think we’d all like to get some new authors to read.

In fact, while we’re at it–I’m curious about the geographical make-up of this meme. So, while you’re leaving your link to your post, tell us where in the world you are! (For the record, I’m in New Jersey, USA.)

I think the following nicely sums up why I think The Grapes of Wrath is a Great American Novel:
'It was publicly banned and burned by citizens, it was debated on national radio hook-ups; but above all, it was read' - Peter Lisca, The Wide World of John Steinbeck
It is a book that continues to be read, almost 70 years later. Yes, it is a political novel. But the Joad family's ambitions represent the American ideal of hard work and determination; that you can start from scratch, work your way up from nothing, and become a success. These are traits that are still valued by many today.

There is another book I classify as the Great American Novel, say the GAN of the 1800's, and that is Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. I can't think of another book that has such a profound effect on American consciousness and history. Abraham Lincoln's greeting when he first met Stowe hints at the impact she had on her time: "So this is the little lady who made this big war".


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Good choice!

I can't really pick because there are so many elements that define this country. I sort of wimped out and tooted my own horn at the same time.

Laura said...

Grapes of Wrath was my vote, too. I like your rationale also.

cj said...

I agree with Laura. Your rationale for both books is very good. And no one can argue the impact of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

That's why it will forever be impossible to come up with one "Great American Novel". There are simply too many marvelous books available.


Bookfool said...

Excellent choice. I could never narrow down to one, but I think your reasoning is solid and The Grapes of Wrath is definitely one that I would choose.

Nyssaneala said...

@susan - there's nothing wrong with tooting your own horn occasionally!

@laura - thanks! it probably helped that it was fresh in my mind since I just read it a few months ago.

@cj and @bookfool - good point. I thought it was interesting that the definition of the Great American Novel classified it as books that impacted their generation...therefore, there is certainly the rationale for more than one choice!