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I recently (about two months ago) recieved a set of eight books from my grandmother, all of which are considered classics. I've only read two of them; Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bonte, and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. After reading these books, which are very good by the way, i'm interested to learn what others think of them. If you've ever read the book (please don't just watch the movie and then try to carry on a conversation about the book no matter how decent you think the movie was, it never really portrays the feel of the book) please respond and tell me your opinions, i love to talk about books, and these two offer a wide-range of topics to discuss. if anyone has read other classics i would also love to get your opinions on those as well.
Good friends'll bail you out of jail.Best friends'll be sittin with you sayin;'Damn, we f*cked up'.
I haven't read those in particular, but Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights is a fantastic book. And that's particularly high praise coming from me, as Victorian novels... aren't my cup of tea. Mansfield Park (Jane Austen) did nothing for me, and Tom Hardy's The Mayor of Castorbridge was terrible. I mean it was really bad... so bad it was funny at times (laughing at, not with :p).
Perhaps this is a reflection of Victorian-era England, but the style is quite tedious. And often, I remark that with just a little more open communication, all of the problems would be solved. That, I feel, is definitely a commentary on the part of the authors, that it is the deception and pompousness of the social elite standard that is the cause of many problems. This can be seen in Mansfield Park and in Wuthering Heights, where the most humble and honest-minded characters end up doing well in the end.
My recommendation for a great classic? Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca. Let's put it this way; Du Maurier was Alfred Hitchcock's favorite author. In fact, he even made a movie based on Rebecca (which is a good movie and very faithful... but don't watch it until you've read it. As you say Alexis, it's just not the same :)).
"History is more or less bunk." - Henry Ford
This post was edited by Bunk on Jul 24, 2005.
I've read Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and really liked it, but it has been so long since I read it. I do like Victorian novels, though, and in recent years was wont to read contemporary British author Elizabeth Goudge's work. Some would call her a romance writer, and I don't see myself as a reader of such, but back in the day, the Bronte sisters were kinda romance writers too.
As far as other classics, A Tale of Two Cities made a huge impression on me, and the beginning with the 'blood on the streets of St. Antoine, the trip to the guillotine... the ending and the speech before death got me round the throat. Very thought provoking. Life-changing, even.
As for the Thomas Hardy novels, I was for many years, a died-in-the-wool Thomas Hardy fan. I especially grooved on understanding the deeper meanings within Tess of the D'Urbervilles. For a class, I wrote a six page paper on how a single paragraph about Tess hiding in the trees with the dying pheasants, and caring for them mirrored, among other things, the callous attitudes, and closed-mindedness of Victorian England. About how the 'birds' were a metaphor for women like Tess, who were viewed as expendable, as sport for men of leisure. Not worthy of concern, not even to ease their misery. The instructor who gave the assignment wanted us to choose one page and elaborate on the symbolism within it. I guess that is where I learned to write volumes of words about one small thing, huh?
So, Tess, was kind of my manifesto going through life...for a long time. I felt persecuted. I hated the way every man I seemed to come in contact with ate up my beauty with his eyes, and/or made rude gestures towards me. The way if I protested having someone stare lasciviously all the way down the street at me, they just laughed and taunted me. The way, the minute I opened my mouth with a heavy Southern accent, that people seemed to think I was stupid, uneducated, and only worth fucking. I identified with Tess strongly. Of course, things change. It's funny, though, how a book can inform on your life.
My tennis instructor's maiden name was Turberville, and she said that she endured a lot of flack growing up in England for that name. It's funny, how even then, in the 80s, there was a stigma attached to the name, just because of the book. And how we all really live in a class society that no one wants to admit. That novel changed my life, maybe for the worse, but eventually for the better.
None of the other Hardy novels did that, though for years, I believed in the fatalism of his writing. I felt that Hardy was the best writer above all others because he saw how life didn't always have Hollywood endings. Now I think back, and I go...wow! His writing was not only bucking the system in a roundabout way, but it was also, paradoxically, a repository for repressive attitudes.
Let's see. I read American Tragedy, and disliked it intensely, which was probably partly due to the fact that we had to read that depressive book over the Christmas holidays. Whatever the hell Roberta's boyfriend's name was, I didn't deem it worthy of memory, cause he was such a goldigging schmuck. I also read T.H. White's The Once and Future King, and devoured it. I especially loved the whole Questing Beast thing, with "Pax", "Pax non!" And I read Beowulf, which was strange at the time, though I don't remember much.
I know there are many others, but don't remember. Of course, I have a distinct bias towards reading of any kind, and would recommend it highly. Maybe I shall actually read Wuthering Heights one of these days.
My mind is made up...not like my bed, which is a mess.
This post was edited by rosyxxx on Jul 24, 2005.
I'm particularly quick to guide people to "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodr Dostoevsky, just because I adore the message of "reform over punishment" and the almost heavy-handed, teetering in the balance battle between the ideals and morals than poor Raskolnikov finds himself fighting as he tries to decide between bettering the world with the destruction of one life, and the consequences of his actions which also bring even more suffering into the world.
The writing of Flannery O'Connor, especially her short stories, is really something else. Just one caveat: she can, at times, be pretty overwhelming in the grotesque nature of mankind she portrays. I'm not usually put off by death and violence, greed, hatred, etc. when I read it, but something about Flannery O'Connor always hit it home a little more powerfully.
One of my favourite classics from way back when is the book of Ecclesiastes. I'm not very religious (I fell by the wayside from the Catholic and Episcopal churches long ago), but Solomon has words of wisdom that ring true for anybody. Even if you choose to disregard the entire Bible as simple metaphors, tall tales, and fables, you should read Ecclesiastes (especially if you can get your hands on a text that focuses just on that book, with criticism and the like). Texts praising the life that abandons the comforts of wealth and power for devotion to any noble cause that are simultaneously written in such a joyous and unassuming tone are hard to come by.
I'll believe in anything if you'll just believe in anything
Thank you all for your opinions. Particularly the book recommendations, or warnings. One of the eight books i recieved happens to be Wuthering Heights, and now that it has gotten a good review, so to speak, it makes me all the more willing and excited to read it. Thanks again for your opinions, and recommendations, they were very informative.
Good friends'll bail you out of jail.Best friends'll be sittin with you sayin;'Damn, we f*cked up'.
I'm not sure this is a classic like the other books that have been listed, but I'm partcial to Flannery O' Connor.
Right now I'm reading her short stories (because I like to get done with the whole story in one sitting). They're great stories about people being people.
Please contiune to vote AND post.
Ahhh, Classics. How I love them.
I must say I'm a huge fan of Jane Eyre. I've actually never made it the whole way through Pride & Prejudice, i find Austen's style to be far too excessive for my liking. A four page description of a teapot just doesnt interest me. But, Jane Eyre is wonderful, Charlotte Bronte has discovered a perfect balance to create a beautiful piece of writing. Her plots and characters are interesting and intricate without being convoluted.
While they're not technically 'classics' i'm a huge fan of many of the Penguin Classics range. Lolita, A Clockwork Orange, The Great Gatsby, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Les Liaisons Dangereuses... all of them are magnificent. There are plenty more lining my shelves, but unfortunatly i'm at the wrong house right now. Homer's Iliad and Oddysey and masterpieces.
however, my all time favourite book has to be The Outsider, by Albert Camus. absolutly beautiful in its simplicity. The writing style is so casually matter-of-fact, it is easier to empathise with the character and assume his beliefs throughout the book. A must read for everyone.
Have you ever read any classic plays? Euripides is, IMHO, the best of the three great Ancient Greek tragedians. Read his The Bacchae. Also Jean Anouilh's Antigone is one of the most moving plays i've read/seen/been in. Another fantastic one is Jean Racine's Phaedra.
Sorry, i tend to get a bit over excited when recommending titles. I work in a bookstore and thus have got into the habit of mentioning titles until i hit a winner...
Oh, and in terms of Shakespeare, my favourites would have to be The Tempest, A Winter's Tale, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew and Much Ado about Nothing.
also: if you liked Hamlet, then you must read/watch Tom toppard's Rozencrantz and Guilderstern are Dead.
*coughs* I'm done now.
Look at me! I'm a prostitute robot from the future!
"The Classics" is a very subjective thing regarding literature. How does one decide what goes in and what stays out? The time period?
I for one am glad that Alexis makes the inclusion of more recent literature rather than 19th C. stuff. Personally, I find most literature of that period to be very heavy going. As someone who is used to just getting straight to the point, or making leaps toward it, its frustrating to know where the text is leading a page or so beforehand.
As I stand at present, my list of classics would probably only include a token smattering of literature from the 19th; and a lot from more modern classics, sci fi in general and dystopian in particular. To Kill A Mockingbird, Brave New World, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, Slaughterhouse Five and others.
I suppose I prefer these over the Classic Classic books since they present the themes in a setting that can more readily be accessed. Not many of us look toward the past to such an extent that the setting in Jane Eyre really has much meaning, things have changed immensely since that era. We do (or at least, I do) look toward the future, or our own approximations thereof, and make assumptions. We assume, probably like Dickens or the Bronte sisters did, that life is going to continue in some way as we know it at present. The present they knew is not the present we know.
Sir Deimos, Beater of Ass.