Friday 15 January 2016

The Modern Movement in 100 books

Daydream: a golden classical house, three stories high, with attic windows and a view over water. Outside a magnolia growing up the wall, a terrace for winter, a great tree for summer and a lawn for games; behind it a wooded hill and in front a river, then a sheltered garden, indulgent to fig and nectarine.

'Indulgent to fig and nectarine'. Oh yes please. It's Cyril Connolly of course, writing as Palinurus, in An Unquiet Grave (1944). Connolly's yearning for a bolt hole in the Lot region of France, close to Cahors, is a very good example of Larkin's 'thin continuous dream'. My dreams run less to property than to books, and this blog is prompted by reports that a recent winner of some huge National Lottery payout plans to buy a really good pair of shoes "for about £200".

I've never spent that much on shoes, but could easily splash a million or so on what's known to bibliophiles as the Connolly 100. These are the books (actually numbering 106 in all) listed in Connolly's 1965 volume The Modern Movement. One Hundred Key Books from England, France, and America 1880-1950. I'd prefer first editions, and ideally with some fabulous association - Beckett's annotated copy of Huysmans, for instance, if such a copy exists. 

How much would it cost to acquire the lot? Gtting on for a million pounds (if that's to include a fine first of Ulysses, currently for sale on for $275,000 plus £5 postage and packing). But I'd want to spread out the acquisition over several years as there's plenty to read, not simply possess. Back in 2007 there was a sale of many of the volumes making up the Connolly 100, and Jeanette Winterson was among the bidders. You can read about it here, and wonder.

Here, in case you're interested, are the books making up the Connolly 100, in chronological order.. I reckon I've read around 60 of them so far, so the other 40 should see me out.

Gustav Flaubert – Bouvard et Pecuchet
Henry James – Portrait of a Lady
Villiers De L’Isle-Adam – Contes Cruels
J.K. Huysmans – A Rebours
Guy de Maupassant – Bel Ami
Arthur Rimbaud – Les Illuminations
Charles Baudelaire – Oeuvres Posthumes
Stephane Mallarme – Poesies
Edmond and Jules de Goncourt – Journal (1887-96)
J.K. Huysmans – La-Bas
Alfred Jarry – Ubu Roi
Henry James – The Awkward Age
Andre Gide – The Immoralist
Joseph Conrad – Youth
Henry James – The Ambassadors
George Moore – Memoirs of My Dead Life
Joseph Conrad – The Secret Agent
J.M. Synge – The Playboy of the Western World
E.M. Forster – The Longest Journey
Norman Douglas – Siren Land
D.H. Lawrence – Sons and Lovers
Guillaume Apollinaire – Alcools
Marcel Proust – Du Cote de Chez Swann
W.B. Yeats – Responsibilities
Thomas Hardy – Satires of Circumstance
Ford Madox Ford – The Good Soldier
Ezra Pound – Lustra
James Joyce – Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Norman Douglas – South Wind
T.S. Eliot – Prufrock and Other Observations
Paul Valery – Le Jeune Parque
Percy Wyndham Lewis – Tarr
Guillaume Apollinaire – Calligrammes
Gerard Manley Hopkins – Poems
Arthur Waley – One Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems
Lytton Strachey – Eminent Victorians
Ezra Pound – Mauberley
Wilfred Owen – Poems
D.H. Lawrence – Sea and Sardinia
Aldous Huxley – Crome Yellow
Katherine Mansfield – The Garden Party
W.B. Yeats – Later Poems
James Joyce – Ulysses
T.S. Eliot – The Waste Land
Paul Valery – Charmes
Raymond Radiquet – Le Diable au Corps
Ronald Firbank – The Flower Beneath the Foot
Wallace Stevens – Harmonium
E.E. Cummings – Tulips and Chimneys
E.M. Forster – A Passage to India
Ernest Hemingway – In Our Time
F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby
B.E. Cummings – Is 5
Ernest Hemingway – The Sun Also Rises
Andre Gide – Si le Grain Ne Meurt
William Plomer – Turbott Wolfe
W. Somerset Maugham – The Casuarina Tree
Virginia Woolf – To the Lighthouse
Andre Breton – Nadja
W.B. Yeats – The Tower
D.H. Lawrence – Lady Chatterley’s Lover
Evelyn Waugh – Decline and Fall
W.B. Yeats – The Winding Stair
Henry Green – Living
Ernest Hemingway – A Farewell to Arms
Robert Graves – Goodbye to All That
Jean Cocteau – Les Enfants Terribles
Ivy Compton-Burnett – Brothers and Sisters
T.S. Eliot – Ash Wednesday
Hart Crane – The Bridge
Ezra Pound – Thirty Cantos
Edith Sitwell – Collected Poems
Antoine de Saint-Exupery – Vol de Nuit
William Faulkner – Sanctuary
Virginia Woolf – The Waves
Edmund Wilson – Axel’s Castle
T.S. Eliot – Selected Essays
W.H. Auden – The Orators
Luis-Ferdinand Celine – Voyage au Bout de la Nuit
Aldous Huxley – Brave New World
Nathanael West – Miss Lonelyhearts
Andre Malraux – La Condition Humaine
Dylan Thomas – Eighteen Poems
F. Scott Fitzgerald – Tender Is the Night
Henry James – The Art of the Novel
Marianne Moore – Selected Poems
Dylan Thomas – Twenty-Five Poems
Henri de Montherlant – Les Jeunes Filles (1936-39)
Henri Michaux – Voyage en Grande Garabagne
Jean-Paul Sartre – La Nausee
Louis MacNeice – Autumn Journal
Christopher Isherwood – Goodbye to Berlin
James Joyce – Finnegans Wake
Graham Greene – The Power and the Glory
Arthur Koestler – Darkness at Noon
W.H. Auden – Another Time
Henri Michaux – Au Pays de la Magie
Albert Camus – L’Etranger
Stephen Spender – Ruins and Visions
T.S. Eliot – Four Quartets (1943-44)
George Orwell – Animal Farm
Dylan Thomas – Deaths and Entrances
William Carlos Williams – Patterson 1, 2, 3, 4 (1946-51)
Albert Camus – La Peste
John Betjeman – Selected Poems
Ezra Pound – The Pisan Cantos
George Orwell – 1984

Which books since Orwell's 1984 (published in 1948) might be added to this list of modernist masterpieces? Which books in the list, if any, might be quietly dropped? There's a parlour game for a rainy day.

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