The last few weeks we’ve been building a list of the greatest fantasy novels of all time. We’ve used objective data to determine what novels appear on the list in an attempt to keep personal opinion out of the selection.
The first novel we added to the list remains the benchmark for fantasy novels. It was an easy choice. The second novel that made it to our list was selected based on the awards it has won.
The third novel entered on the list changed the face of the publishing industry, won the Hugo, and spawned a world wide frenzy of fans.
For this week’s entry, we will go much farther back in time. Before we get to this week’s novel, let’s review our list so far.
The Greatest Fantasy Novels of All Time
- The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (Best Novel Awards: International Fantasy Award 1957, Prometheus Hall of Fame Award 2009)
- Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold (Best Novel Awards: Hugo 2004, Locus 2004, Nebula 2004; Nominations: Mythopoeic 2004)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling (Best Novel Award: Hugo 2001)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Author: Lewis Carroll
First Year Published: 1865
As we’ve discussed in previous columns, one of the flaws with our system is that the awards have not always been around. If we go back far enough in time, there were no awards to recognize greatness in writing.
So it is that our novel this week, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, did not receive awards when it was first published as a children’s book in 1865. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson wrote the masterpiece under the penname of Lewis Carroll.
Evidence of the novel’s greatness can be found in its impact to society. How many people do you know of reading age that have never heard of Alice in Wonderland? The novel has reached iconic status. It is part of the culture now.
The original novel has inspired countless films, comic books, and games. Artists have made their careers creating images of Carroll’s Wonderland. People all over the world smile like a Cheshire Cat. Curious people wander too far down the rabbit hole. And I’ve known more than one person that is as mad as a hatter.
Amazingly, the book has never been out of print since 1865. It has been translated into 174 languages.
Carroll did write a sequel called Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, but it is the original that captures our imagination.
Allusions to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland can be found in the work of countless authors and filmmakers, including the wildly popular movie The Matrix.
It is safe to say that, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will continue to entertain and inspire readers into the far future. As long as humans still read, it will be a part of our culture. It is truly one of the greatest novels of all time.