Sunday, August 06, 2006

Joseph Epstein on a few fine books

Joseph Epstein had an inspired nomination when I asked him about novels about life in a theocracy: click here to see what he came up with.

In 2002 he named a few favorite books for The Week magazine. Among them:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The world’s greatest novel, far and away, tout court. It is the novel the author of Madame Bovary might have written if he had had a more generous heart.

Plutarch: Lives of Noble Grecians and Romans, Volume I

The world’s first, and still best, major biographer—for the excellent reason that, in the figures of the ancient world, he had the richest of all possible subjects. Plutarch’s are studies filled with atrocious behavior, astonishing courage, and much useful moralizing on both by the author.

The Princess Casimassima by Henry James

The James novel that shows how wide was his range, and range of sympathies. It is also the book that refutes any claims that this great writer was a snob.

Click here to see the rest of Epstein's list.

To read what Louis Begley thinks of Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary, click here. For this blog's official view of the former, click here.

Epstein's latest book is Friendship: An Exposé.

--Marshal Zeringue