Updated: Apr 27, 2020
A native of Germany, I grew up reading Schiller’s poetry, Goethe’s Faust, Kleist’s plays, written between 1786 and 1832, the era defined as German classics. However, classic literature is by definition not limited to a certain time period. But it requires a high artistic standard, must hold the test of time, and have universal appeal. This said I am adding works of Stefan Zweig, Max Frisch, Herman Hesse, and Kurt Tucholsky to my preferred list.
Russian literature, translated into German, became a favorite during my teenage years: Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, Chekhov’s short stories and plays. More recently I discovered Gogol’s Dead Souls, and Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, both a must-read.
I’m particularly fond of the French language. Hugos’s novel Les Misérables is high on my list, but also Stendhal’s Le Rouge et le Noir, Balsac’s Le Père Goriot, Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, the works of St. Exupéry, Camus, Dumas.
As to English/American literature, I favor Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, Somerset Maugham’s The Razor's Edge, John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, Mark Twain’s The Gilded Age, and all of George Orwell.