5 Literary Novels that are the Best of the European Canon


You’re about to travel through Europe. You’ve been researching what books to read, and all the titles sound so boring! Well, I’m here to recommend some great literature by European authors that will transport you right into the heart of Europe. These novels are a must-read if you’re going on a European adventure and want to experience it through words:

The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil

The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil is a German novel that follows a man named Ulrich and his friends through their lives in Vienna. It’s set during the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and portrays both sides of World War I: its causes, its effects on people’s lives, and how it changed Europe forever.

The book also deals with themes like morality, responsibility, love (or lack thereof), time travel–and yes–even sex toys! But at its core this is an exploration into what makes us human: our emotions versus our intellect; our desire for pleasure versus our need for security; our ability to use reason as well as emotion when making decisions about ourselves and others around us…

The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

The Leopard is a story about a Sicilian nobleman and his family. It’s set in the 1860s, during a time when feudalism was beginning to give way to modernity. The main character is Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina and head of an aristocratic family that has been around for centuries. The book follows him as he deals with changes in society–changes which threaten not just his way of life but also his very identity as an aristocrat.

The author, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (1907-1967), was born into aristocracy himself; he grew up on an estate on Sicily called Palazzo Lampedusa. He wrote The Leopard after living through World War II; it was published posthumously in 1958–over 20 years after its completion!

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

The Magic Mountain is a novel by Thomas Mann that was first published in 1924. It tells the story of Hans Castorp, a young man who travels to Davos, Switzerland to visit his cousin Joachim Ziemssen. Castorp stays for seven years and becomes involved in many adventures as he learns more about himself and life itself.

The book has been called “one of the most significant novels ever written”, as well as one of the best European novels ever written

The Stranger by Albert Camus

Camus’ novel is about an ordinary man who commits a murder. The book explores the idea of the Absurd, and it’s about the nature of identity. Published in 1942, The Stranger was Camus’ first novel and established him as one of France’s most important writers.

The main character Meursault lives a simple life: he works as a clerk at an insurance company by day and goes out drinking with his friends at night–that is until one day when he gets home early from work due to illness (or perhaps it was just because he didn’t feel like going), finds his mother upset over her son’s death, which happened while swimming; this sets off a chain reaction that leads Meursault on his journey into murder and guilt.

Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry

Lowry’s masterpiece is set in Mexico and tells the story of Geoffrey Firmin, a British Consul who has been drinking heavily for years. The novel follows his last day on Earth as he tries to find redemption before dying from alcohol poisoning.

The book is considered one of the greatest novels of post-war literature due to its innovative structure and style; it was published in 1947 but contains elements that were ahead of their time–including references to globalization and consumerism long before they became common topics among writers today.

These novels are great reads if you’re going to be traveling through Europe.

If you’re planning a trip to Europe and need something fun to read, consider these five literary novels that are the best of European canon. These novels are great reads if you’re going to be traveling through Europe, have an interest in European literature or culture, or just want to get lost in a good story set in another part of the world. They’ll also help you brush up on your history as well!

  • The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy – This Russian masterpiece tells the story of a successful lawyer who dies after falling ill with terminal cancer. It’s about his struggle with death and how he comes face-to-face with his own mortality–and how everyone else reacts when someone close dies unexpectedly (or at all). The book was written between 1886-1888 but published posthumously in 1908; Tolstoy died before finishing it himself but left instructions for his wife Sofia Andreevna not only how she should continue writing if necessary but also what she should do if he died before completing any books himself.*


If you’re planning a trip through Europe, these are the novels that will give you the most insight into the culture and history of the continent. They’re also just great stories that everyone should read!