Parts two and three of Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol
It’s hard to believe that one of the pillars of Russian literature is actually an unfinished masterpiece, but that’s the case with Gogol’s classic, which he tossed into the fireplace at the suggestion of Father Matthew Konstantinovskii.
Herman Melville’s Isle of the Cross
Melville’s publishers were idiots, because they rejected this novel by the Moby-Dick author. What exactly happened to the lost work by one of America’s greatest writers isn’t exactly clear, but over 150 years later, we’re still pissed off about it.
Marquis de Sade’s unpublished manuscripts
The son of literature’s most famous creep had all of his unfinished works tossed into the fire upon his father’s death.
Arthur Rimbaud’s “La Chasse spirituelle”
Verlaine claimed that “La Chasse spirituelle” was Rimbaud’s greatest work, and that’s probably why a librarian and an actor tried, and almost succeeded, in convincing us that they had discovered it. Sadly, as part of a notebook full of work supposedly misplaced by one of Rimbaud’s schoolmates, it is lost to time.
James Joyce’s Stephen Hero
The first half of Joyce’s autobiographical novel was lost, so if you’re tempted to read what was basically a first draft for A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man today, keep in mind that it’s an incomplete work.
Walter Benjamin’s mysterious manuscript
One of the 20th century’s greatest minds supposedly had a completed manuscript with him in a suitcase when he fled from the Nazis. Benjamin committed suicide a few weeks later, and nobody knows what happened to the suitcase.
Sylvia Plath’s second novel
Double Exposure, or Double Take, unfinished at the time of her death in 1963, was lost sometime around 1970.