Forgotten treasures of the last century, from 25 writers


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In 1999, the L.A. Times asked dozens of writers to look back at the prior century and share books they considered lost treasures -- books they loved that had slipped out of sight. Although the authors were formidable -- including Nobel Prize winner Nadine Gordimer, theorist Susan Sontag and popular novelist John Le Carré -- most of their books remain relatively unknown. Not for want of trying: Editor Robert Giroux worked with E.E. Cummings in the 1950s and tried -- but failed -- to acquire the rights to Cummings’ book ‘The Enormous Room’ -- it was his selection for this list.

What follows are lost treasures from 25 writers, as they looked back in 1999.

André Aciman: ‘Count d’Orgel’s Ball’ by Raymond Radiguet

Margaret Atwood: ‘Doctor Glas’ by Hjalmar Söderberg

Anthony Bailey: two by Marc Bloch - ‘Strange Defeat’ and ‘Souvenirs de Guerre 1914-15’

John Banville: ‘By Love Possessed’ by James Gould Cozzens

Jacques Barzun: ‘Practical Agitation’ by John Jay Chapman

Alain de Botton: ‘The Unquiet Grave’ by Cyril Connolly

Thomas Flanagan: ‘Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the Civil War’ by Edmund Wilson

Carlos Fuentes: ‘Paradiso’ by Jose Lezama Lima; ‘Grande Sertão, Veredas’ by João Guimarães Rosa and ‘The Flowering of New England’ by Van Wyck Brooks


Robert Giroux: ‘The Enormous Room’ by E.E. Cummings

Nadine Gordimer: ‘Turbott Wolfe’ by William Plomer

Juan Goytisolo: ‘Petersburg’ by Andrei Bely

Thom Gunn: two by Arnold Bennett - ‘The Old Wives’ Tale’ and ‘Riceyman Steps’

Dave Hickey: ‘The Man Who Loved Children’ by Christina Stead

Pico Iyer: ‘The Road to Xanadu’ by John Livingston Lowes

Milan Kundera: ‘The Man Without Qualities’ by Robert Musil

John Le Carré: ‘The Good Soldier’ by Ford Madox Ford and ‘Rogue Male’ by Geoffrey Household

Elmore Leonard: two by Richard Bissell - ‘High Water’ and ‘A Stretch on the River’

John Luckas: two by Jean Dutourd - ‘The Horrors of Love’ and ‘Best Butter’

Frederic Morton: ‘Lieutnant Gustl’ [also published as ‘None but the Brave’] by Arthur Schnitzler

Paul Muldoon: ‘Irish Journal’ by Heinrich Boll

Cynthia Ozick: seven by Rudyard Kipling - ‘The Wish House’, ‘Dayspring Mishandled,’ ‘Mary Postgate,’ ‘The Gardener,’ ‘The Eye of Allah,’ ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ and ‘Mrs. Bathurst’

Noel Perrin: ‘Far Rainbow’ by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky and ‘The Walls Came Tumbling Down’ by Henriette Roosenburg

Gregory Rabassa: ‘Internal War’ by Volodia Teitelboim, ‘My World Is Not of This Kingdom’ by João de Melo and ‘The Return of the Caravels’ by Antonio Lobo Antunes

Susan Sontag: ‘And Then’ by Natsume Soseki, ‘Jennie Gerhardt’ by Theodore Dreiser, ‘Fateless’ by Imre Kertész

Marina Warner: ‘Anthologie des mythes, legendes, et conles populaires d’Amerique’ (‘Anthology of Myths, Legends, and Popular Tales of America’) by Benjamin Peret

-- Carolyn Kellogg