20 best books of classic literature

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective and does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

World literature is proud of its representatives, who, despite the difference of eras, are united by one thing – this is talent and dedication to their work. Great writers made an invaluable contribution to its development, reflected the peculiarities of their countries and the time in which they lived. Their creations are immortal, and each new generation is enthusiastically read with stories and stories, novels and essays by authors whose names are on everyone's lips and they do not need introduction.

The experts of our magazine have selected 20 works of classical literature in the rating, many of which are included in the general school curriculum, and some are simply recommended for reading.

Rating of the best books of classical literature

Nomination a place composition rating
The best books of Russian classical literature 1 'War and Peace' Leo Tolstoy 4.9
2 'The Master and Margarita' Mikhail Bulgakov 4.9
3 'Dead Souls' Nikolai Gogol 4.8
4 'Crime and Punishment' Fyodor Dostoevsky 4.8
5 'Doctor Zhivago' Boris Pasternak 4.8
6 'Eugene Onegin' Alexander Pushkin 4.7
7 'Hero of Our Time' Mikhail Lermontov 4.7
8 'Fathers and Sons'Ivan Turgenev 4.6
9 'Woe from Wit' Alexander Griboyedov 4.5
10 'The Cherry Orchard' Anton Chekhov 4.5
The best books of foreign classical literature 1 'Romeo and Juliet' William Shakespeare 4.9
2 'Don Quixote' Miguel Cervantes 4.9
3 'Count of Monte Cristo' Alexandre Dumas 4.8
4 'Faust' Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 4.8
5 'Martin Eden' Jack London 4.7
6 The Headless Horseman Mine Reid 4.7
7 'Les Miserables' by Victor Hugo 4.7
8 'Three Comrades' Erich Maria Remarque 4.7
9 'The Old Man and the Sea' Ernest Hemingway 4.6
10 'The Little Prince' Antoine de Saint-Exupery 4.6

The best books of Russian classical literature

'War and Peace' Leo Tolstoy

Rating: 4.9


Topping the list is the novel by the Russian writer Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy, which is considered one of the greatest classics. It covers the time period 1805-1812. The epic novel consists of 4 volumes. In the first, the action takes place in 1805-1807. The second volume reflects the peaceful life of Russian society in 1806-1812. The last book begins with the invasion of the country by Napoleon's army.

War and Peace features many chapters and chapters, some of which are story-driven. The author moves the reader through space and time, but this is so delicate that it does not confuse, but, on the contrary, enhances the impression and adds interest. The main idea of ​​the book is revealed to the end: the Russian people are invincible, which was once again proved by the complete defeat of Napoleon's army.

Many of us, in our youth, read the work, noting the most interesting moments. Boys were fascinated by military operations, girls – by descriptions of dresses, carriages, palaces. Many of them wanted to be like Natasha Rostova and Andrei Bolkonsky. Older people were able to appreciate the subtleties and complexities of the heroes' relationships. Even minor characters are not deprived of the author's attention. All in all, there are 550 of them in the work. The epochal book leaves no one indifferent, many re-read it several times.

'The Master and Margarita' Mikhail Bulgakov

Rating: 4.9


The second place in the rating belongs to the mystical novel by Mikhail Afanasyevich Bulgakov 'The Master and Margarita', which is recognized as the most mysterious work of classical Russian literature. Since 1966, it has been published three times, and its names have changed. The book belongs to the unfinished works of the author. Bulgakov's widow was engaged in the preparation of drafts. The final version was presented to readers in 1990.

The action of the book begins on a sunny May day, when the writer Mikhail Berlioz and the poet Ivan Bezdomny, walking on the Patriarch's Ponds, meet a strange person who looks like a foreigner. None of them suspects that it is the devil himself – Woland. His prophecies about the death of Berlioz come true, the writer falls under a tram and cuts off his head. Satan, together with his servants, arranges various pranks and hoaxes in Moscow.

The story of the Master and Margarita reflects the essence of that time. He ends up in a psychiatric hospital because of a misunderstanding of his novel and refusal to publish, bullying in the press. She is ready to lay her soul to the devil, just to find out where the loved one is. The book can be re-read several times, and each becomes even more interesting than the last.

'Dead Souls' Nikolai Gogol

Rating: 4.8


The great Russian classic Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol and his immortal work are in third place in the rating. Acquaintance with him begins in his school years. As it grows up, it does not lose its relevance and, after rereading it at a more conscious age, new details are revealed that you do not notice in your youth. The work, according to the author's idea, was to be published in three volumes. But if the first book was published in 1842, then only a few rough chapters remained from the second, and the third was never started.

The main character is Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov. The former collegiate counselor comes to town N, where he skillfully masquerades as a landowner. He confidently rubbed himself into the credibility of the locals, who do not know that the true goal of an adventurer is to get rich in any way possible. The scam is to rewrite the dead peasants, who are still alive, in their own name, thereby increasing their social status.

In a humorous form, Gogol describes the inhabitants of the town, their habits and vices. Many surnames have become household names. Manilovism was called an inactive attitude towards everything around. Plyushkin became an example of greed and miserliness. The classic work provides an opportunity to look at the life of the Russian province through the prism of the author's satire and enjoy an interesting and original style, unlike others.

'Crime and Punishment' Fyodor Dostoevsky

Rating: 4.8


The socio-psychological work was first published in 1866 in a magazine version. The book published a year later was changed and had a number of amendments from the author. Despite the past years, history is still relevant, since it does not touch on specific time spaces, but human thoughts and emotions.

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky very subtly described the throwing of the protagonist before the crime and the mental anguish after the perfect murder of the old woman-pawnbroker. Former student Rodion Raskolnikov, forced to leave the university due to the inability to pay for his studies, becomes dependent on his thoughts. For himself, he had a clear division of people into 'trembling creatures' and 'having the right'. Deciding that everything is possible for him, he goes to the crime, justifying himself with good intentions. But this does not make him feel better.

At the end of the work, the hero finds the only right way out for himself and surrenders to justice. The epilogue shows Raskolnikov in prison in hard labor, where Sonechka Marmeladova comes to him, who, for the sake of saving loved ones, was forced to sell herself. The book ends on a positive note. The reader is sure that the rebirth of these two people is possible thanks to love, compassion and self-sacrifice.

'Doctor Zhivago' Boris Pasternak

Rating: 4.8


Doctor Zhivago is an undoubted Russian classic. The novel included in the rating was created over one decade and is the pinnacle of the work of the Russian writer and poet, the 1958 Nobel Prize laureate. The author himself considered the book to be his life's work. In it, Pasternak shows the drinking of the difficult life of the intelligentsia, from 1900 to the Great Patriotic War.

The work was banned due to the author's ideological disagreement with the position of the authorities in relation to many significant events in the country. After the publication of the novel abroad, Pasternak was accused of anti-Soviet propaganda and persecuted. Only thirty years later, the novel was published in the homeland of the author, who, as a result, achieved recognition and fame not only abroad, but also in his own country.

The description of the life of the protagonist begins from childhood, when his mother suddenly dies, and he is forced to move from one family to another. Having matured, the young man shows a talent for poetry. The dramatic life story of Yuri Zhivago is a kind of biography of the author, only unreal, but one that Boris Pasternak would like to live himself. The once forbidden book was copied by hand. Today there is an opportunity to enjoy the work of the author and find your answers to the questions raised in the novel.

'Eugene Onegin' Alexander Pushkin

Rating: 4.7


There is not a single person in our country who is not familiar with the brilliant creation of Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin. The novel in verse is recognized as the most significant work of Russian literature. It influenced its further development. It took seven years to create, and the author describes the work on it as a 'feat'. Pushkin began writing his work in exile in Chisinau. He immediately abandoned romanticism, preferring realism.

The reader is introduced to the life of the nobility of the early 19th century. The book covers the events after the defeat of Napoleon in the Patriotic War, starting in 1819, ending with the uprising of the Decembrists on Senate Square. The story is told on behalf of an unknown narrator who was a good friend of Onegin.

The work of A. Pushkin is included in the general school curriculum and is a national heritage of Russia. No wonder V.G. Belinsky called it “the encyclopedia of Russian life.” Our experts could not leave the poem without attention, including it in the rating of the best world classics, and recommends reading it at a more mature age.

'Hero of Our Time' Mikhail Lermontov

Rating: 4.7


A Hero of Our Time was published in 1840 and captured the minds of the people of that time. Almost 180 years later, the work has not lost its novelty; both schoolchildren and elderly people read it with pleasure. It is recognized as the first lyric and psychological novel in history and brought fame no less than poetic works.

The author reveals the diseases of an entire society, talks about the historical features of his era. The main character is Grigory Pechorin. He is eccentric, always accustomed to achieving his goal, while he absolutely does not care about someone else's opinion. Young people, having received a good education, could not realize themselves, they spent their time on constant amusement, which led to satiety and disappointment in life.

The first acquaintance with Pechorin causes complete dislike, but gradually, when the unknown sides of his soul are revealed, you begin to understand and even sympathize with him. M. Lermontov raises several problems that can be related to real time: happiness, the search for the meaning of life, immorality. But he does not condemn Pechorin, but admits that he became so under the influence of circumstances.

'Fathers and Sons'Ivan Turgenev

Rating: 4.6


Ivan Vasilievich Turgenev – publicist, prose writer, poet, one of the brightest representatives of the classical literature of the 19th century. After the publication, the image of Bazarov was perceived by young people as a symbol of the times and an example to follow. The work included in the rating tells about the conflict of two generations, about the eternal confrontation between fathers and children. This problem is relevant at any time, and ours is no exception. Young people want to move forward regardless of conventions and habits. The older generation is more conservative and does not want to change anything.

Using the example of the main character, the writer wanted to show the mysterious soul of the Russian intellectual. Evgeny Bazarov is a student, a revolutionary-democrat who does not accept either liberal ideas or conservative views. But his nihilistic principles collapse and fail the test of love. Bazarov realizes that after all he is not a rebel and a rebel, denying everything, but an open romantic.

The author very vividly described the characters in action. Many readers may recognize themselves, despite the fact that the action took place 160 years ago. The experts recommend the book to read. It will help to avoid conflict situations and look at the problem through the eyes of all heroes.

'Woe from Wit' Alexander Griboyedov

Rating: 4.5


A worthy place in the rating of the best books of Russian classics is occupied by the greatest work of Alexander Sergeevich Griboyedov and the apotheosis of his work – the famous comedy 'Woe from Wit'. The play in verse has become one of the few that is regularly staged in Russian and foreign theaters. Numerous quotes and expressions have long received their own separate life. The action takes place 10 years after the crushing victory of the Russian army over Napoleon.

The book describes the life of the secular Moscow society. It shows all the vices of the aristocratic class, and the presence of satire in the description of the heroes arouses genuine interest. The main idea that the writer wanted to convey to the reader: the protest of a free person against reality. No wonder the work was enthusiastically received precisely among the Decembrists.

Alexander Chatsky is an intelligent, educated young man who is inspired by freedom and brotherhood. Returning from abroad to Moscow, he understands that the wind of change has not touched society, that ignorance and hypocrisy also flourish. And even love leads to disappointment. The work will appeal to both young people and representatives of the middle and older generation.

'The Cherry Orchard' Anton Chekhov

Rating: 4.5


The genius creation of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, created in 1903, closes the top ten in the rating of the best Russian classics. This was the last work of the writer, completed on the eve of his early death. A year later, the play was staged at the Moscow Art Theater. The audience took it with a bang. A century later, 'The Cherry Orchard' is included in the repertoires of not only Russian, but also foreign theaters.

The action takes place on the estate of the landowner Ranevskaya, who returned from France back to Russia. She has no money left, and the house with its magnificent cherry orchard may soon be sold for debt. The work has a deep philosophical meaning. It very vividly reveals the characters of not only the main, but also the secondary characters. Despite the fact that the play begins as a comedy, in the end it turns into a tragicomedy.

The cherry orchard, as conceived by the author, is a symbol of the Russian nobility. Trees are cut down – ancestral nests are falling apart, the time for change is coming. The author foresaw many events, but it was not possible to see them in connection with his death. It is noteworthy that the greatest actress of the 20th century Faina Ranevskaya took her pseudonym from this work in honor of the landowner Lyubov Andreevna.

The best books of foreign classical literature

'Romeo and Juliet' William Shakespeare

Rating: 4.9


The youthful love of Romeo and Juliet still excites young people, and the mature generation makes them think. The first place in the rating among the books of classical foreign literature is undoubtedly given to the immortal work of William Shakespeare – the most famous playwright in the world. The tragic story, written in 1595, leaves no one indifferent. She is put on the stage, filmed, and musical works are created.

The play has become one of the most reproduced in the history of literature. Quotes have become firmly established in colloquial speech. Couples from all over the world come to the city of Verona, where events take place half a century ago, to swear eternal love and fidelity. The action takes place against the backdrop of the centuries-old feud between the Italian clans Montague and Capulet. The forbidden love of Romeo and Juliet leads to a tragic ending. And although the lovers knew that they were not given to be together, they could not resist the feeling that they carried until their death.

'There is no story sadder in the world …'. It really is. But the symbolism of the work lies in the fact that true love overcomes all obstacles, despite the age of a man and a woman, prohibitions and prejudices.

'Don Quixote' Miguel Cervantes

Rating: 4.9


In second place in the ranking is the novel by a Spanish writer, published in two volumes: 'The cunning hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha' and 'The second part of the genius knight Don Quixote of La Mancha', published respectively in 1605 and 1615. It has become one of the most popular works of world literature and has been translated into all European languages. The impetus to write was a novel that ridiculed a farmer who went mad after reading many stories about knights.

The main character is an impoverished nobleman. He is sure that the knights' purpose is to protect the disadvantaged and weak. Don Quixote decides to repeat their exploits, dedicating them to the beautiful Dulcinea. Throughout the story, he finds himself in various comical and ridiculous situations. There is always a faithful page nearby, a peasant, and now a servant – Sancho Panza. Soon Don Quixote realizes that for everyone he was just a laughing stock and forever abandons the image of a wandering knight.

The book will become a wonderful and exciting pastime. The reader will laugh and cry when the hero fights windmills, mistaking them for monstrous giants, or engages in a fight with a flock of sheep, deciding that this is an army transformed by a wizard.

'Count of Monte Cristo' Alexandre Dumas

Rating: 4.8


The novel by the French writer entered the treasury of world literature and occupies the third line of our rating. It was published in 1844 and immediately had an overwhelming success, surpassing all other works of the author. Before writing, Alexandre Dumas studied the police archives and came across the case of the shoemaker Francois Picot, who became the prototype of the protagonist. And while traveling on the Mediterranean Sea, he saw the island of Montecristo and learned the legend about the wealth buried there.

The Marseille sailor Edmond Dantes, through libel and slander, ends up in the Château d'If. After a long stay in solitary confinement, he decides to die, but meeting with Abbot Faria changes his whole life. He vows to take revenge on the offenders and prepares an escape, which he succeeds. Having been on the island for 14 years, having found treasures, he returns home and generously rewards everyone who was kind to him, even the smugglers who saved him, and takes revenge on his enemies. Soon he realizes that he himself is becoming a criminal and stops, realizing what he had done.

The novel was filmed several times, musicals and performances were staged based on it. The incredibly engaging storyline will appeal to all generations of readers. The book is desktop, it can be re-read many times.

'Faust' Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Rating: 4.8


'Faust' is a philosophical work of the German poet and thinker Goethe, on which he worked almost his entire life for 60 years. It became the story of the 16th century alchemist, warlock Johann Faustus, closest to real life. Many legends and incredible stories prompted writers at different times to create books about him, but only Goethe was able to rise to such heights and enter the golden fund of world classics.

The author raises the problem of good and evil, which are constantly in conflict in man. The main character, although he sold his soul to the devil, remains an intellectual, a humanist, who dreams of a happy life for all mankind. He firmly follows the intended path, makes mistakes, overcomes difficulties. But he always has to make a choice, not always the right one, as a result of which he causes harm to others.

Goethe's book reflected not only legends, but also ancient myths, stories from the Bible, philosophical ideas, folklore. She made more than one generation of mankind think about the meaning of life. Modern people are offered amazing and exciting reading, which is always relevant, pleases with novelty and, for sure, you will not be bored.

'Martin Eden' Jack London

Rating: 4.7


A well-deserved place in the ranking is occupied by the work of Jack London, published in 1909. It does not lose popularity and today it is included in the hundred best books of world classical literature. The action takes place in the early years of the 20th century. The main character is an ordinary working guy from a poor class. A chance acquaintance with a girl from a wealthy family develops into love.

The boundless social abyss does not stop Martin Eden, and he, by all means, wants to become worthy of his chosen one and a part of high society. Taking up self-education, he intends to become a writer, learning about the fees that are paid by print publications to authors. Ruth actively helps him in this. A young man learns to write correctly and pronounce words correctly, reads books.

Soon after unsuccessful attempts to sell his stories, essays and poems to magazines, one publication agrees to publish his work. But success doesn't lead to happiness. Disappointed in everything and even in love, Martin leaves the city on a ship to live alone on a small island in the ocean. But the will to live leaves him, and he jumps into the water. The work is very dynamic, tragic, but after reading it, one always wonders what is most important in this life: a well-fed, rich existence or a calm life in harmony with one's conscience.

The Headless Horseman Mine Reid

Rating: 4.7


The mysterious story, written by Mine Reed in 1865, ranks next in the ranking. It was based on the author's own adventures in America. The action takes place in the middle of the 19th century, when the United States captured Texas and began to conquer its vast territory. The once wealthy but bankrupt planter and his family move to a new home located on the wild prairie in the southwest.

Acquaintance with the mustanger Maurice Gerald leads to a feeling between him and Louise, the daughter of the immigrant Woodley Poindexter. His nephew also has views of a girl, especially since his uncle has a large monetary debt to him. Cowardly and arrogant, overcome by the throes of jealousy, Colhoun decides to destroy the enemy, having come up with an insidious plan. But he was not destined to come true, and soon he himself finds himself in the dock on charges of the murder of Louise Henry's brother.

The story ends with a happy ending. Maurice receives a large inheritance, marries his beloved, paying all the debts of her family. Fascinating reading captures from the first page. The book will appeal to people of different genders and ages. Boys and girls, their mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers are happy to re-read the work about love and hate, friendship and betrayal.

'Les Miserables' by Victor Hugo

Rating: 4.7


The greatest novel of all times and peoples was created in 1862. It instantly received critical acclaim and rave reviews from readers. The book raises the question of good and evil, morality and immorality, heartlessness and responsiveness. The righteous man and the rebel appeared as two opposing traits of one individual.

On the example of Jean Valjean, the path of moral purification is shown. A former convict becomes a righteous man, is engaged in industrial production, takes care of his workers. Other characters are naturalistic and faithfully reproduce the society of the time: the street boy Gavroche, the gangsters from the 'Cock's Hour' community, the inhabitants of the bottom of the Thenardier family. In Les Miserables, Hugo managed not only to accurately create psychological portraits of the heroes, but also to describe in detail the houses, streets, landscapes of the city.

The author fascinatingly tells about the events taking place in the past and the future, presenting the reader with interesting facts and the opportunity to get to know more closely the history of France in the early-mid-19th century. Reading is exciting and engaging, you stop only on the last page. The master of the pen has managed to create an immortal piece that has been enjoyed for over 150 years.

'Three Comrades' Erich Maria Remarque

Rating: 4.7


“Three Comrades” is a book worthy of entering the rating of the best foreign classical works. This is a tragic novel about friendship and love, uneasy human relationships. It was published in 1936, and 22 years later it was translated into Russian and instantly earned the love of Russian readers. Today, millions of people around the world consider the novel one of the best works of the 20th century, which was subsequently filmed and staged dozens of times, as a result of which its popularity increased even more.

The action begins in post-war Germany in 1928. Three friends Robert, Otto and Gottfried open a repair shop. They are all very passionate about cars. On one of his trips, Robbie meets a charming girl and falls in love with her at first sight. They are very different, and, despite social inequality, they have a touching and tender romance.

Terrible memories torment the main characters, the echoes of the war do not leave alone. The book shows very deeply the problem of the 'lost' generation. Young people could not forget all the horrors of wartime, which left their mark on each of them, and could not adapt to a peaceful life, becoming unnecessary members of society.

'The Old Man and the Sea' Ernest Hemingway

Rating: 4.6


The last, published during the author's lifetime, the work was published in 1952. A year later, the American writer and journalist Ernest Hemingway was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and two years later he received the Nobel Prize for the skill shown in The Old Man and the Sea. In the center of the story is the Cuban fisherman Santiago. For almost three months he has not had a catch. People around him consider him unlucky, and he also begins to think so.

The only friend and support for the old man is the boy Manolin, who is forbidden to fish with Santiago, but he helps in everything: brings tackle, prepares food, leads conversations. One day the old man goes out to sea and incredible luck smiles at him: he catches a giant marlin more than five meters long. For two days and two nights he tries to deliver fish to the shore. He talks to her, understanding her pain and impotence, calls her brother. On the third day, sharks are attracted to marlin blood. The old man kills five of them, but the rest completely eat the fish carcass.

Santiago makes his way to the shore after making sure he is indeed unlucky. The skeleton left by the boat attracts the attention of local residents. Based on the work, films and television series, cartoons, and performances were created. It touches the reader to the depths of his soul, forcing him to reread again and again.

'The Little Prince' Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Rating: 4.6


Our rating ends with the favorite work of millions of people around the world. The French writer’s most famous book, The Little Prince, was published in 1943 and was inspired by editor Kurt Hitchcock, who once saw Antoine display a figurine of a boy on the table in a restaurant. It turned out that the writer imagined a friend he kept in his heart. The editor suggested writing a fairy tale for children. The result was a parable that took possession of the minds of adults.

All illustrations are personally made by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and are part of the work. A philosophical tale tells the story of a mysterious boy from another planet who meets a pilot who makes an emergency landing in the sultry Sahara.

The little prince talks about his adventures. He went to study the Galaxy and on his way met different characters: a geographer, a king, a drunkard, a lamplighter. The prototype of the prince was the author himself in childhood. He loved to gaze at the stars for a long time, for which he was nicknamed 'Sleepwalker'. The main idea of ​​the writer: “All adults were children, only few remember this.”

Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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