Forgotten treasures of the last century, from 25 writers
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
Photo: Rare books from the Huntington Library's collection. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times