Poll analysis: What are your favourite literary classics?

I put up a poll a few weeks ago on this site as I wanted to find out what our favourite literary classics are. I use ‘our’ in an inclusive sense to mean anyone who happens to stumble upon my blog. Just in case you were wondering… which you probably weren’t…

I compiled a list of 25 books which I had seen recur on a number of different ‘Ultimate Literature Lists’ and allowed visitors to vote for up to three classics. I apologise for having only 25 works available to choose from and only three votes allowed, as it made the choice for some-me included- quite difficult! But it also made people think about which ones to choose, which can’t be a bad thing right?

The results:

Top spot was taken by Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four! It took almost 16% of the entire vote. This is no surprise as it is perhaps the most influential in the dystopian genre and a novel that is still enjoyed by young and old readers alike over 60 years later. It is one of my favourites also so this result isn’t a big surprise to me.

Fun fact: Nineteen Eighty-Four is also the book that most people lie about having read… (See here for more facts like this: https://criticaldan4th.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/ten-interesting-literature-based-facts-that-i-have-learned-over-the-holidays/ ) so it is possible that the result was affected by people lying. But then, it was an anonymous poll, so you are literally only fooling yourself.

In second place was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, a more modern series of novels that seems from the outside as having something of a cult following. This took 11% of the vote overall which suggests that either there were many visitors who were part of this following or that rather it is a science fiction classic with a more lighthearted spin to it, which has led to its more widespread popularity. Particularly in recent years I would argue. The sci-fi genre is certainly ‘in’ at the moment.


And in third place was JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (10% of the vote). This also was not a surprise to me as I know that the series is very popular. However I did wonder if voters would really choose this as one of their three choices for it being classic literature that they enjoyed reading or rather, they had enjoyed the films and so chose it because of that. I’m not saying this is a poor reason to choose it, film adaptations are a brilliant way of bringing literature to life and it can be said that only great/popular literature get turned into films but I wonder how much the films affected the result.

At the other end of the scale was Middlemarch by George Eliot which gained no votes at all. It took a mighty 0% of the vote which I thought was a little surprising. I did not expect it to rank very highly but then I also didn’t expect it to get no votes at all. I think it is fair to say that this is one of the less well-known works on the list and so the low result was probably due to fewer people having read it, compared with something like The Great Gatsby.

I would like to thank the hundreds of people who voted on the poll; it made for some really interesting reading- at least I thought so! Thank you!

The full results can be found below:

Nineteen Eighty-Four- George Orwell 15.87%

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy- Douglas Adams 11.08%

The Lord of the Rings- JRR Tolkein 9.82%

To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee 8.31%

The Great Gatsby- F Scott Fitzgerald 7.05%

Lolita- Vladmir Nabokov 6.8%

The Catcher in the Rye- JD Salinger 6.55%

Hamlet- William Shakespeare 5.04%

Catch 22- Joseph Heller 4.79%

Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen 3.53%

The Grapes of Wrath- John Steinbeck 3.02%

Great Expectations- Charles Dickens 2.02%

Ulysses- James Joyce 2.02%

Jane Eyre- Charlotte Brontë 2.02%

War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy 2.02%

Gone With The Wind- Margaret Mitchell 1.76%

Anna Karenina- Leo Tolstoy 1.51%

Wuthering Heights- Emily Brontë 1.26%

Death of a Salesman- Arthur Miller 1.01%

The Tragedy of King Lear- William Shakespeare 1.01%

David Copperfield- Charles Dickens 1.01%

Mrs Dalloway- Virginia Woolf 0.76%

Tess of the D’Urbervilles- Thomas Hardy 0.76%

Emma- Jane Austen 0.5%

Middlemarch- George Eliot 0%


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