In Search of The Canadian Canon

August 1st, 2005 · 2 Comments
by Booksquare

Our bookclub has supplemented* our collective reading list with something the husband likes to call the “Ayn Rand/L. Ron Hubbard List”. Ostensibly, this is a list of classic titles as chosen by readers. In reality, there was a small war between the Objectivists and the Scientologists, and the top ten slots are weighted heavily in the direction of two authors who really should have counted themselves lucky if they placed one title each.

In defense of the readers’ list, it also includes The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy.

We mention this because, when it comes to lists of classic books, one must always consider the source. Some lists are merely copied over from previous versions, with one or two tweaks. Others attempt to be radical, only to find Rand and Hubbard duking it out for top honors (Hubbard won in this case). Others try to define themselves by geography, gender, or ethnicity. And then, some impose a rather fun limitation:

By contrast, Penguin Classics, judging from its initial list of titles, is sticking to the ’70s and afterwards, when Canadian literature started to heat up and when Penguin Canada began publishing Canadian fiction.

* – Supplement: The act of adding a new list of titles to the previous list because the last few titles on the previous list give the entire membership hives.

File Under: Books/Mags/Blogs

2 responses so far ↓

  • jmfausti // Aug 1, 2005 at 8:27 am

    Are you talking about the Modern Library reader’s list? I was really shocked by how well Rand and Hubbard did on the list. Later, I was informed that the list was suspect, and for just that reason. Although Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead appear on other lists, there is no Hubbard on any of my other best books lists, including the science fiction list produced by Phobos.

  • Booksquare // Aug 1, 2005 at 11:39 am

    Yes — it is indeed the Modern Library list. We’re using the editors and readers lists to supplement our original list. It’s amazing what lengths people will go to in an effort to avoid Nicomachean Ethics. The husband vividly remembers the brouhaha that arose when the alleged ballot-box stuffing happened (I say alleged because surely someone, somewhere would have chosen those titles).

    P.S. – I was wrong; Rand won first place.