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METACANON 0.7
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METACANON 0.7

This is not a greatest books list.

Metacanon is a database that offers an alternative to the genre of the greatest books list. Unlike lists compiled by individuals or small committees of experts, metacanon builds custom book lists by culling data from tens of thousands of scholarly texts. This data-driven approach results in a more comprehensive, flexible, and inclusive gateway into the canon(s).

Metacanon 0.7 is limited primarily to American fiction after 1800, but future updates will expand to include other areas, genres, and periods.

Use the menu below to generate your own version of the canon.

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19th Century
20th Century
1800 - Present
New York Times Archive

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Change the weight of these data points in order to change the shape of your canon.









AMERICAN FICTION 1940

# Title Author Year Score
1Mark as read.Native SonRichard Wright194022.25
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 805 (7.62 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 1832 (6.78 points) | American Literature: 47 (3.54 points) | American Literary History: 27 (4.31 points)
2Mark as read.For Whom the Bell TollsErnest Hemingway194014.80
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 444 (6.37 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 445 (4.46 points) | American Literature: 35 (3.17 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
3Mark as read.The HamletWilliam Faulkner194013.69
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 129 (4.30 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 517 (4.67 points) | American Literature: 45 (3.48 points) | American Literary History: 2 (1.24 points)
4Mark as read.You Can't Go Home AgainThomas Wolfe194011.92
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 256 (5.37 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 311 (4.00 points) | American Literature: 20 (2.55 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
5Mark as read.The Heart Is a Lonely HunterCarson McCullers194010.76
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 184 (4.83 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 174 (3.32 points) | American Literature: 9 (1.81 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
6Mark as read.Sapphira and the Slave GirlWilla Cather19409.43
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 55 (3.21 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 196 (3.45 points) | American Literature: 11 (1.98 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
7Mark as read.Farewell, My LovelyRaymond Chandler19409.20
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 131 (4.32 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 83 (2.59 points) | American Literature: 3 (1.04 points) | American Literary History: 2 (1.24 points)
8Mark as read.The Ox-Bow IncidentWalter Van Tilburg Clark19405.83
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 69 (3.48 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 63 (2.36 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
9Mark as read.The ConversationConrad Aiken19403.61
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 58 (2.29 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
10Mark as read.The Crazy HunterKay Boyle19402.98
Genre: Novel, Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 3 (0.90 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 21 (1.56 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
11Mark as read.Portrait of JennieRobert Nathan19402.95
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 10 (1.63 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 14 (1.32 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
12Mark as read.The Bride Wore BlackCornell Woolrich19402.71
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 8 (1.47 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 12 (1.24 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
13Mark as read.World's EndUpton Sinclair19402.57
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 5 (1.17 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 16 (1.40 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
14Mark as read.The Underground StreamAlbert Maltz19402.47
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 6 (1.28 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 11 (1.19 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
15Mark as read.H. M. Pulham, EsquireJohn P. Marquand19402.36
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 5 (1.17 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 11 (1.19 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
16Mark as read.Ask Me TomorrowJames Gould Cozzens19401.92
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 16 (1.40 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
17Mark as read.FearL. Ron Hubbard19401.63*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus.
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 52 (1.34 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus. | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus. | American Literary History: 1 (0.29 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus.

N-gram Frequency Correction: -72.15%
18Mark as read.Bethel MerridaySinclair Lewis19401.59
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 1 (0.45 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 10 (1.14 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
# Score
1Mark as read.Native Son (1940)
Richard Wright
22.25
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 805 (7.62 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 1832 (6.78 points) | American Literature: 47 (3.54 points) | American Literary History: 27 (4.31 points)
2Mark as read.For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)
Ernest Hemingway
14.80
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 444 (6.37 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 445 (4.46 points) | American Literature: 35 (3.17 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
3Mark as read.The Hamlet (1940)
William Faulkner
13.69
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 129 (4.30 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 517 (4.67 points) | American Literature: 45 (3.48 points) | American Literary History: 2 (1.24 points)
4Mark as read.You Can't Go Home Again (1940)
Thomas Wolfe
11.92
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 256 (5.37 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 311 (4.00 points) | American Literature: 20 (2.55 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
5Mark as read.The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940)
Carson McCullers
10.76
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 184 (4.83 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 174 (3.32 points) | American Literature: 9 (1.81 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
6Mark as read.Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940)
Willa Cather
9.43
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 55 (3.21 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 196 (3.45 points) | American Literature: 11 (1.98 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
7Mark as read.Farewell, My Lovely (1940)
Raymond Chandler
9.20
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 131 (4.32 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 83 (2.59 points) | American Literature: 3 (1.04 points) | American Literary History: 2 (1.24 points)
8Mark as read.The Ox-Bow Incident (1940)
Walter Van Tilburg Clark
5.83
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 69 (3.48 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 63 (2.36 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
9Mark as read.The Conversation (1940)
Conrad Aiken
3.61
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 58 (2.29 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
10Mark as read.The Crazy Hunter (1940)
Kay Boyle
2.98
Genre: Novel, Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 3 (0.90 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 21 (1.56 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
11Mark as read.Portrait of Jennie (1940)
Robert Nathan
2.95
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 10 (1.63 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 14 (1.32 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
12Mark as read.The Bride Wore Black (1940)
Cornell Woolrich
2.71
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 8 (1.47 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 12 (1.24 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
13Mark as read.World's End (1940)
Upton Sinclair
2.57
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 5 (1.17 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 16 (1.40 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
14Mark as read.The Underground Stream (1940)
Albert Maltz
2.47
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 6 (1.28 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 11 (1.19 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
15Mark as read.H. M. Pulham, Esquire (1940)
John P. Marquand
2.36
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 5 (1.17 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 11 (1.19 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
16Mark as read.Ask Me Tomorrow (1940)
James Gould Cozzens
1.92
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 16 (1.40 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
17Mark as read.Fear (1940)
L. Ron Hubbard
1.63*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus.
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 52 (1.34 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus. | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus. | American Literary History: 1 (0.29 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus.

N-gram Frequency Correction: -72.15%
18Mark as read.Bethel Merriday (1940)
Sinclair Lewis
1.59
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 1 (0.45 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 10 (1.14 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)

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Include only:

Include only works published between and .

Althorithm Modifications

Change the weight of these data points in order to change the shape of your canon.







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N-gram Frequency Correction.

Titles consisting of words or phrases that are exceedingly common in the English language corpus (such as Stephen King's It or Joyce Carol Oates's them) tend to be overrepresented in search results, thus resulting in an articially inflated citation count. To counteract this tendency, Metacanon adjusts the scores for these works accordingly. Scores subjected to n-gram frequency correction are estimates only and are marked with an asterisk. N-gram freqencies are drawn from the Corpus of Contemporary American English, a project created by Mark Davies.


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Non-unique author Correction.

Books by authors with a non-unique name (for example "Winston Churchill," the American novelist) tend to be overrepresented in search results, thus resulting in an articially inflated citation count. To counteract this tendency, Metacanon adjusts the scores for these works accordingly. Scores subjected to non-unique author correction are estimates only and are marked with a dagger.


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