• Deborah Yaffe

Austen tops another list

It’s always pleasant when Jane Austen makes another greatest-novels-of-all-time list, so we Janeites can’t help but cheer that, as the Guardian’s Robert McCrum wraps up a nearly two-year project to anoint the best one hundred novels in English, Emma tops his All-Time Top 10. OK, the list is in chronological order, but still.

McCrum’s full list, which he’s spent one hundred weeks unveiling in a drawn-out cultural striptease, is necessarily idiosyncratic. (Or so I assume, since I’ve only read forty-eight of the total, though nine of the top ten. I do well in the nineteenth century but bomb the twentieth, as I could have told you ahead of time.) And he lets himself in for criticism by picking only twenty-one female and four non-white authors.

But hey: given that Austen’s works have only been included in the canon for about a century, and even now are sometimes demeaned as nothing more than sophisticated chick lit, it’s delightful to be reminded, yet again, how good she really is.


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