Friday, August 10, 2007

Greatest Love Story Ever

From the Guardian Unlimited website comes the results of a poll commissioned by the UKTV Drama people to "find the greatest love story." I'm not sure whether or not all the votes came from the U.K., but the results show that such a list is still pretty much dominated by the classics of that type.

The top 20

1 Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë, 1847

2 Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen, 1813

3 Romeo and Juliet William Shakespeare, 1597

4 Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë, 1847

5 Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell, 1936

6 The English Patient Michael Ondaatje, 1992

7 Rebecca Daphne du Maurier, 1938

8 Doctor Zhivago Boris Pasternak, 1957

9 Lady Chatterley's Lover DH Lawrence, 1928

10 Far from The Madding Crowd Thomas Hardy, 1874

11 = My Fair Lady Alan Jay Lerner, 1956

The African Queen CS Forester, 1935

13 The Great Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald, 1925

14 Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen, 1811

15 = The Way We Were Arthur Laurents, 1972

War and Peace Leo Tolstoy, 1865

17 Frenchman's Creek Daphne du Maurier, 1942

18 Persuasion Jane Austen, 1818

19 Take a Girl Like You Kingsley Amis, 1960

20 Daniel Deronda George Eliot, 1876
Since I don't consider myself to be much of a judge of what constitutes a good "love story," I'm not going to argue with the rankings other than to say that I found the most recent of the novels to make the list, The English Patient, to be one of the "yawners" of all time, including the film version. Maybe I'm just not cut out to read "love stories."


  1. I think this is an interesting list, and I won't quibble except to say that Wuthering Heights is so sad, I don't think I would rate it as the greatest love story, maybe the best unrequited love story :) I guess I like my love stories to be happy.

    My favorites from the list are Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, and I also like Jane Eyre and Far From the Madding Crowd.

    I didn't really like The English Patient, either.

  2. Hmm, I guess people aren't too picky about whether there's a happy ending or not!

  3. I don't think I've ever met anyone who did like The English Patient. Gotta wonder who wrote this list. Other than that one, I don't have any other problems with this list. Though I think I would have ranked something different at the number one spot. Probably Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre.

  4. Gentle Reader, Wuthering Heights would not have been my first choice either. In fact, I still have a hard time having much sympathy for the lead character in that one. It's sad...and frustrating to me.

    I was really surprised to see Gone with the Wind rated so highly in the poll.

  5. Looks like maybe, they prefer sad endings, doesn't it, Sylvia?

  6. Wow...another vote against The English Patient. I haven't met anyone yet who really likes the book or the movie.

    I think this was a poll rather than someone just making a list on his own, so it should represent the opinions of lots of people.

  7. I do think there is an interesting point with regard to Jane Austen. Three of her titles make the list. That's not really surprising when you consider that she's one of the top authors on Library Thing. Everyone seems to own her books. But one wonders if there will be a backlash at some point against her popularity.

  8. I'm always perplexed that people consider Romeo and Juliet a love story.

    I hate The English Patient, movie AND book!

  9. I wouldn't be surprised, Jill, because backlashes against whatever gets extremely popular seems to be part of human nature. I suppose those things run in cycles, but Jane Austen has had a really long cycle of popularity.

  10. I see that you kept the vote on The English Patient a unanimous one, Dewey. :-)

  11. I agree with some of these, and completely disagree with others, but I haven't read all of them either.

    Rhis is a generalization, but it's been my experiebce that people will pick the depressing stories because they're tring to appear deep or intellectual... for some reason sadness is more intelligent than happiness. I'm willing to bet most of the people who voted for "Wuthering Heights" secretly enjoy "Pride and Prejudice" better.

    Oh, and I haven't read or seen "The English Patient" - mostly because everyone says they hate it - so I don't have a vote on that, though I may be the only English major to ever say she absolutely hates "Wuthering Heights."

  12. Interesting observation about why it is that readers tend to pick up the sad stories over the happy ending ones, Annie. I find myself drawn to them because they generally seem to be more complicated and have more bite to them. I'm generally pretty happy all the time so I find that really sad ones draw on emotions that I don't feel in the real world all that often.

    I'm with you on Wuthering Heights...not one of my favorite books despite the fact that I've read it three times, twice for school classes and once on my own.

  13. I hated the book "The English Patient."

    The only thing I liked about the movie was the scene where the Indian sapper takes off his turban and oils his hair. I wasn't too fond of the idea of the Scott-Thomas' and Ralph however you spell his last name's adulterous affair being glorified.

  14. We're still waiting for the first positive vote on the book...and your lukewarm vote for the movie is the best it has received to this point. :-)