Romain Rolland
Gilbert Cannan Translator
Random House/Modern Library, New York, 1938, English, originally published 1912–14 in French
Nonfiction, General

Ten-volume novel that received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915. Based on the life of Beethoven, Jean-Christophe Krafft’s life, personality, and artistic development are the themes of this series of volumes, along with the difficulties of the artist in society.

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Peter Mendelsund

A sprawling novel that won the Nobel Prize in 1915 and was the most massively popular work of its time. Now largely forgotten (perhaps out of print even?). I read Jean Christophe in tenth grade at the urging of my grandfather Henoch Mendelsund. The book is based, roughly, on the life of Beethoven, and it was my first glimpse at the mythology of the artist-as-superhero. Lesson(s) learned: Nobody is as cool as he or she who makes things.

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