Originally created 07/21/98

'Ulysses' heads list of 100 best novels this century



NEW YORK -- James Joyce's "Ulysses" has been voted the best English-language novel published this century, heading a list of 100 novels selected by a jury of scholars and writers.

The list was drawn up by the editorial board of the Modern Library, a division of Random House that has been publishing classic literature since 1917, Random House spokesman Tom Perry said today.

Those voting were Daniel J. Boorstin, A.S. Byatt, Christopher Cerf, Shelby Foote, Vartan Gregorian, Edmund Morris, John Richardson, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., William Styron and Gore Vidal.

"Ulysses," which recounts a single day in the lives of a group of Dubliners, was followed by F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," a story of romance and decadence among Long Island socialites.

In third place was another novel by Joyce, "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," an autobiographical account of a young man's intellectual awakening; followed by Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita," a tale of a man's doomed lust for an ingenue; and Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World," a satirical novel of a civilization where people are made to order.

"We tried to pick books that were of great merit and proven over time," said Cerf, chairman of the Modern Library editorial board. He is the son of Bennett Cerf, who bought the Modern Library and founded Random House.

Cerf said today that board members were selected "for their particular expertise, for their willingness to help us, and their friendliness to the cause." They were invited to come up with their own list of 100 favorite titles from which the final list was drawn.

The titles were selected without regard to publisher, he said.

In retrospect, Cerf said, he wished other authors had been included, such as Doris Lessing and Toni Morrison. Only eight women authors are represented on the list. Byatt, an English novelist, was the only woman on the judging panel.

"It's very arbitrary, but we're getting exactly the results we had hoped for. The idea was to get people reading books that they're going to love. One thing good about this list is how many really readable books are on there," said Cerf.

Cerf said the Modern Library board also will be expanded and next year will release a list of 100 best nonfiction books since 1900.