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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 1983

# Title Author Year Score
1Mark as read.Praisesong for the WidowPaule Marshall198311.08
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 320 (5.76 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 118 (2.92 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 3 (1.57 points)
2Mark as read.The Anatomy LessonPhilip Roth19838.20
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 69 (3.48 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 125 (2.98 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 2 (1.24 points)
3Mark as read.Sent for You YesterdayJohn Edgar Wideman19836.59
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 35 (2.72 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 56 (2.26 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
4Mark as read.CathedralRaymond Carver19836.41
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Pulitzer Prize Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 4 (1.05 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 110 (2.86 points) | American Literature: 4 (1.22 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
5Mark as read.The Woman Who Owned the ShadowsPaula Gunn Allen19836.14
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 71 (3.51 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 46 (2.11 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
6Mark as read.The Mind-Body ProblemRebecca Goldstein19835.84
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 75 (3.58 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 18 (1.47 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
7Mark as read.IronweedWilliam Kennedy19835.82
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Winner (1.00 point) | Google Scholar: 35 (2.72 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 46 (2.11 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
8Mark as read.The Cannibal GalaxyCynthia Ozick19835.63
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 29 (2.53 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 57 (2.27 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
9Mark as read.Ancient EveningsNorman Mailer19835.37
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 29 (2.53 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 41 (2.02 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
10Mark as read.The PenitentIsaac Bashevis Singer19834.93
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 27 (2.46 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 37 (1.94 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
11Mark as read.Our House in the Last WorldOscar Hijuelos19834.76
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 24 (2.35 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 23 (1.62 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
12Mark as read.The Place of Dead RoadsWilliam S. Burroughs19834.16
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 38 (2.80 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 15 (1.36 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
13Mark as read.A Gathering of Old MenErnest J. Gaines19833.89
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 10 (1.63 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 56 (2.26 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
14Mark as read.Disturbances in the FieldLynne Sharon Schwartz19833.59
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 16 (2.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 22 (1.59 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
15Mark as read.Winter's TaleMark Helprin19833.24
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 18 (2.09 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 10 (1.14 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
16Mark as read.The Book of the New SunGene Wolfe19833.20
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 7 (1.38 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 31 (1.82 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
17Mark as read.The Man Who (Thought He) Looked Like Robert TaylorBienvenido Santos19832.52
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 6 (1.28 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 12 (1.24 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
18Mark as read.AugustJudith Rossner19832.39
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 33 (1.86 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
19Mark as read.LegionWilliam Peter Blatty19832.37
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 8 (1.47 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 6 (0.90 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
20Mark as read.LegionWilliam Peter Blatty19832.37
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 8 (1.47 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 6 (0.90 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
21Mark as read.PilgermannRussell Hoban19832.25
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 6 (1.28 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 7 (0.97 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
22Mark as read.The FeudThomas Berger19832.19
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 1 (0.45 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 12 (1.24 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
23Mark as read.SuderPercival Everett19832.15
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 1 (0.45 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 26 (1.70 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
24Mark as read.Modern BaptistsJames Wilcox19831.64
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 1 (0.45 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 11 (1.19 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
25Mark as read.Dear Mr. CapoteGordon Lish19831.59
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)
26Mark as read.In Bed One Night and Other Brief EncountersRobert Coover19831.05
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 4 (1.05 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 0 (0.00 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
# Score
1Mark as read.Praisesong for the Widow (1983)
Paule Marshall
11.08
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 320 (5.76 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 118 (2.92 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 3 (1.57 points)
2Mark as read.The Anatomy Lesson (1983)
Philip Roth
8.20
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 69 (3.48 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 125 (2.98 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 2 (1.24 points)
3Mark as read.Sent for You Yesterday (1983)
John Edgar Wideman
6.59
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 35 (2.72 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 56 (2.26 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
4Mark as read.Cathedral (1983)
Raymond Carver
6.41
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Pulitzer Prize Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 4 (1.05 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 110 (2.86 points) | American Literature: 4 (1.22 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
5Mark as read.The Woman Who Owned the Shadows (1983)
Paula Gunn Allen
6.14
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 71 (3.51 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 46 (2.11 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
6Mark as read.The Mind-Body Problem (1983)
Rebecca Goldstein
5.84
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 75 (3.58 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 18 (1.47 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
7Mark as read.Ironweed (1983)
William Kennedy
5.82
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Winner (1.00 point) | Google Scholar: 35 (2.72 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 46 (2.11 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
8Mark as read.The Cannibal Galaxy (1983)
Cynthia Ozick
5.63
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 29 (2.53 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 57 (2.27 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
9Mark as read.Ancient Evenings (1983)
Norman Mailer
5.37
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 29 (2.53 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 41 (2.02 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
10Mark as read.The Penitent (1983)
Isaac Bashevis Singer
4.93
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 27 (2.46 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 37 (1.94 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
11Mark as read.Our House in the Last World (1983)
Oscar Hijuelos
4.76
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 24 (2.35 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 23 (1.62 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
12Mark as read.The Place of Dead Roads (1983)
William S. Burroughs
4.16
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 38 (2.80 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 15 (1.36 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
13Mark as read.A Gathering of Old Men (1983)
Ernest J. Gaines
3.89
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 10 (1.63 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 56 (2.26 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
14Mark as read.Disturbances in the Field (1983)
Lynne Sharon Schwartz
3.59
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 16 (2.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 22 (1.59 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
15Mark as read.Winter's Tale (1983)
Mark Helprin
3.24
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 18 (2.09 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 10 (1.14 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
16Mark as read.The Book of the New Sun (1983)
Gene Wolfe
3.20
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 7 (1.38 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 31 (1.82 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
17Mark as read.The Man Who (Thought He) Looked Like Robert Taylor (1983)
Bienvenido Santos
2.52
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 6 (1.28 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 12 (1.24 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
18Mark as read.August (1983)
Judith Rossner
2.39
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 33 (1.86 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
19Mark as read.Legion (1983)
William Peter Blatty
2.37
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 8 (1.47 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 6 (0.90 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
20Mark as read.Legion (1983)
William Peter Blatty
2.37
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 8 (1.47 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 6 (0.90 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
21Mark as read.Pilgermann (1983)
Russell Hoban
2.25
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 6 (1.28 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 7 (0.97 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
22Mark as read.The Feud (1983)
Thomas Berger
2.19
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 1 (0.45 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 12 (1.24 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
23Mark as read.Suder (1983)
Percival Everett
2.15
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 1 (0.45 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 26 (1.70 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
24Mark as read.Modern Baptists (1983)
James Wilcox
1.64
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 1 (0.45 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 11 (1.19 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
25Mark as read.Dear Mr. Capote (1983)
Gordon Lish
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)
26Mark as read.In Bed One Night and Other Brief Encounters (1983)
Robert Coover
1.05
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 4 (1.05 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 0 (0.00 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)

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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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