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Forgotten treasures of the last century, from 25 writers

December 22, 2009 | 10:35 am


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