Apparently I’m being punished by living in the hipster era. Will it never end? I was born earnest and have never found my place in this world. Which is why I get excited when I find people expressing enthusiasm for the stories they lovepeople who seem authentic and honest and who make me want to read the ten works in this list that I haven’t already read.
If you’re all about being in style, just go away. Don’t watch these videos. Don’t click through, and don’t read on.
“The passionate loves and longings,
hopes and fears of every culture
live on forever in their stories.”
The Epic of Gilgamesh
Sumerian, 2600 BCE and older
My Name Is Red
Turkish, Orhan Pamuk, 1998
Greek, circa 8th century BCE
Greek, Euripides, 405 BCE
The Bhagavad Gita
Sanskrit, 1st century CE
The Tale of Genji
Japanese, Murasaki Shikibu, circa 1014
Journey to the West
Chinese, Wu Ch’êng-ên, circa 1580
Quiché-Mayan, circa 1550s
French, Voltaire, 1759
Things Fall Apart
English, Chinua Achebe, 1959
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Spanish, Gabriel García Márquez, 1967
The God of Small Things
English, Arundhati Roy, 1998
The Thousand and One Nights
Arabic, circa 14th century
Illustration: Kay Nielsen
Invitation to World Literature was funded by Annenberg Media, which offers resources for the professional development of K-12 teachers in the United States. The website is a companion to the television series produced by WGBH Boston.
Thanks to Project Gutenberg’s Facebook page for sharing this and many other links to the best of the web.