Which 20th Century books wil be widely read in 300 years?

So it’s 2309. Assuming people still read literature, which books from the 20th century are still widely read?

I’ll start by suggesting The Lord of the Rings and Animal Farm, possibly 1984 too.

If history is any guide, a handful of books that are very popular today and a handful of books that very few people have read.

H.P. Lovecraft might make it, as per cult status.

East of Eden and Of Mice and Men. I think Steinbeck has aged gracefully thus far and will continue to do so.

The works of Jacqueline Susan. The novels of Harold Robbins.

The Giants.

In 300 years? Almost nothing. What do we still read from 1709? William Congreve and Dryden?

Half of what we like now will have aged horribly, and the other half future readers will find incomprehensible.

Slick Willie seems to still be pretty popular and his success was several hundred years old in 1709.

As for 18th century literature itself, there’s always Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels, still widely read and enjoyed.

Probably some abortion by Hemingway. Probably old Man and the Sea or Snows of Kilamanjaro since those tend to get taught in school.

Ulysses, since nobody will have figured out what the fuck it is about even after another 300 years [and there will be at least another 100 books with interpretations published about thee stupid thing]

Flowers in the Attic, because drivel will always be read on the beach during the summer. There is a publishing house in an alternate universe that stores spare copies in our universe [how else do you explain how you can find a copy of it in every freaking hotel I have ever stayed at shoved in a random shelf somewhere]

a copy of a people magazine from 1978. They also spontaneously appear in waiting rooms all over the world. It probably will have David Hasselhoff on the cover.

Since Aldous Huxley had the good sense to set BRAVE NEW WORLD 600 years into the future, that will. With people following what he hit (sexual revolution, cloning, virtual reality, globalization, etc.) and missed so far.

No: abortion was the covered in his short story The Hills Like White Elephants :wink:

Are we talking books - as in fiction? Lots of ways to look at that: what is being taught in school today, what books are the most studied and/or collected…

If we are discussing non-fiction, then science books like Watson and Cricks’ The Double Helix, Einstein’s *Annelen Der Physik *articles from 1905, Churchill’s History of the Second World War would be a small start.

I think The Hound of the Baskervilles just barely counts as 20th century.

That’s a huge swath of literature: Joyce, Beckett, Undsett, Hamsun, Laxness, Garcia-Marquez, hell Erma Bombeck is as valid a reflection of her culture as any of those.

Personally, I think besides the givens listed above (excluding Bombeck, though it wouldn’t surprise me, since she IS so much an artifact of her culture), I think Murakami’s works will last forever, Russell Hoban’s, and Alexander McCall-Smith’s.

Hopefully, such garbage as King and Rowling will fade with its time, along with all the “____ Writing As _____” dreck that clogs the grocery store checkout aisles.

I can see people reading King and Rowling in the 2300’s. Won’t readers be curious about what was hugely popular in the 20th/21st century? I can’t say that readers will like them, but I can see the appeal. Victorian writers are still popular – we’re curious about that culture. They’ll be curious too.

And supernatural stuff will always be popular, I think. Unless the existence of a higher power is proven or disproven by then, people will want to know how earlier societies dealt with thoughts of death, an afterlife, etc. (They might just point and laugh though.)

Well, not several hundred years old. Shakespeare’s first play was written around 1588, and his last around 1610.

It’s a good point, though: The way to go about this is to look at what has lasted since 1709, and figure out what the modern equivalents are. Aside from Shakespeare, though, the only thing that comes to mind is Gulliver’s Travels (or other works by Swift), though those are still a few decades younger than the target. Anyone got any other candidates?

Great Victorian literature is “still read,” in the sense I think that the OP is asking. Bad Victorian literature is, shall we say studied, out of curiosity or scholarly obligation. By that standard, ANY surviving literature will be studied by SOMEONE, at some time.

Austen is still read because she’s stood the test of time as great, *readable *literature. I’m sure there are graduate students somewhere studying the worst of her contemporaries. That’s not “still read.”

The Cat in the Hat
Jonny got his gun
Oh, The Place’s You’ll Go.

SSG Schwartz

You mean Billy Shakes? Slick Willie was our 42nd president :D.

I agree with some that have been listed (most especially LotR believe it or not), and I think Catch-22 might just survive as well.

I won’t compare Rowling to Austen (haven’t read Austen, don’t like Rowling) but King has been compared to Dickens, and I think the comparison is valid. Their books have memorable characters, interesting plots (although sometimes a bit too contrived), and they make statements about their times. King is certainly as “readable” as Dickens, especially for modern readers. Dickens had his detractors too, probably (at least partly) because he was enormously popular with the common people (as well as the upper crust).

“Readable” is one of those words like “pornography” – we can’t define it, but we know it when we see it. Everything is readable, if the words are in some semblance of order.

By then Phase 1 (of 10) may be complete in the effort to understand Finnegan’s Wake.

No, a slick willie was what our 42nd president had.

And I doubt that many people will actually know how to read in 2309. Perhaps a few books will be read by eccentric antiquarians.