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Topic: 2012 Classic Lit Challenge Discussion

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Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Subject: 2012 Classic Lit Challenge Discussion
Date Posted: 1/4/2012 10:39 AM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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I didn't see a thread specifically for discussion, unless one of the others is fooling me.  Anyway, I finished my first book, Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley.  This was his first novel, published in 1921.  I used it for the "Book you consider short" category.  I read it on the Kindle, but the info on Amazon lists it as only 128 pages.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book.  It's a satire, featuring a group of upper class people at a country house in England.  There's a great cast of characters and a lot of subtle humor.  One character has a few longer speeches, and some of his ideas prefigure the utopia/dystopia developed later in Brave New World.  



Last Edited on: 1/13/12 8:41 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/4/2012 2:36 PM ET
Member Since: 5/4/2009
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I wanted to start the year out with something fun, so I decided to start with the 'wit lit' category. I read three plays by Moliere (trans. by Richard Wilbur) - The Learned Ladies, The Bungler, and The School for Wives. They're all quick, fun reads. I'm not certain who gets the credit for it (playwright or translator), but I even love reading parts of his plays aloud so I can hear the rhythm lines and the rhyming couplets. The only problem I have with his work is his characters' lack of complexity. It seems like the characters seem to be personifications of more abstract concepts (like Reason, Wit, Foolishness, etc.), instead of being more like real people.

Date Posted: 1/4/2012 6:40 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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Caralen:  I've thought that about some of Molière"s characters, too.   But then, Molière lived right after the heyday of the commedia dell'arte (from about 1560 to 1625), and  he started his theatrical career by touring the provinces with a small company of actors, for whom he wrote comedies.   His satirical comedies hold up to ridicule the follies and pretenses of social types of his day. 

That is much the same that the commedia dell'arte troupes' presentations would do, except that they didn't work from scripts----the actors played stock characters, and would simply discuss the plot line and its twists and turns before going on stage.  Some of those old actors had worked up some pet speeches and would work them into a lot of the stage offerings.  Some of the "stock characters" were Pantalone, a thin, emaciated old man, Pulcinella (the ingenue), Arlecchino, a clown/artist/lover, and Scaramuccia, the coward-braggadocio.   You probably know Arlecchino better by his name "Harlequin".

P.S.  Those long, dramatic speeches in French plays (that actors relish so) are known, in French, as tirades.  I've always found that kinda amusing.) 



Last Edited on: 1/4/12 6:41 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/4/2012 11:00 PM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2007
Posts: 469
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I'm so excited! I picked up The Silmarillion at the library today and I'm SO bringing in the new year with Tolkien! What better way!??

 

Also picked up 1984 so I guess that's what I'm doing for my dystopia. ;-) Glad to have that one decided. Finally.

 

But Tolkien first!!!

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 1/5/2012 9:04 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
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DaLynn, I loved Simarillian. It is a great book. I have a bunch of Tolkien Books on my shelves but have only read a few of them. I read Simarillian years ago and really shoul d reread it. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Date Posted: 1/5/2012 10:00 PM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2007
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Thank you! I am really looking forward to it! I only read The Hobbit plus the trilogy a couple of years ago... I guess it was 2009, for the first time because I had seen the movies. I'm also a bit of a gamer (not huge into it, but some) and found an online game based on LOTR, and my fellow players have raved about Sil for a long time. Haven't seen it and was so excited to find it at this little tiny country library!

I need to get my bootie off this computer and...

1) bake cookies. cuz I want them.

2) finish helping my kids clean their room. new year and all.

3) finish reading my other two books so I can start this one!!

 

Think I can do it all tonight? We'll see....

Date Posted: 1/13/2012 8:14 PM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2007
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So I vote we make this the official chat thread. (Hey Matt, OP, how about removing the question mark from the title? I thought about starting one just like this myself, so thanks for doing it!)

 

Okay so I still haven't started reading but am definitely opening Tolkien tonight!! Up after Tolkien is Orwell's 1984, mostly because these are both library books. LOL

And, does anyone here make banners? I'd love a banner for this challenge! One about the size of the History Challenge banner in poblio's siggy would be fantastic, because then it would fit right alongside my other three and not bump to a second line of pics. ;-) I'd do it myself but really am not confident in my ability to do so! Thanks to anyone who may decide to play with making one. :)

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 1/13/2012 8:44 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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There, thread title edited to eliminate confusion.  

Not sure what's up next.  Charles Dickens' 200th birthday is next month, so I might start David Copperfield (my 'long' book) for that.

Date Posted: 1/13/2012 9:08 PM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2007
Posts: 469
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Ooohh... David Copperfield... I may have to create a book list just so I can put that one on it. How about, "classics I should probably read someday"??

And thanks for the ? removal! Are you a hugger? Can I hug you? I'm rather bossy sometimes and I find that hugging often helps quell any pushiness felt by those being bossed. LOL How about a small one for testing's sake? :D

**hugs**

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 1/13/2012 9:14 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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Can I hug you? 

Of course...e-hugs don't have to be awkward  cheeky

The list of "Classics I should probably read" is long enough I will never finish in this lifetime.

Date Posted: 1/14/2012 3:00 AM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2007
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YAY! **real hugs this time**

 

I agree and you are right; the list of "probably should" is much too general. I figure it is too long a read for THIS year, but needs to go somewhere near the top-ish of my "classics I'd probably enjoy reading and thus should be on my LIST" list. HAHA How's that for a title? cheeky

 

Speaking of lists, I need to browse some "top 100" or "top 1000" lists as well as some award winner lists. I think I have decided to create a list for my children (we homeschool) based on the Newberry awards and was pleasantly surprised to discover a link to those at the bottom of this very page yesterday! YAY!

I created a topic regarding pbs Book Lists in the CMT earlier (today? yesterday? guess it's dated "yesterday" even though for me it's still "today"), and so lists are just on my mind right now. Even though I should be reading instead of creating lists, but hey, they're lists about reading so it all works out in the end.

Date Posted: 2/12/2012 9:28 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
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My first read was Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee.  Like some of you I chose a short book (115 pages) to start for my short selection.   Meant to read this one last year but removed it from my list.  Excellent read!  4 stars

Followed Wind with my readers choice selection, The Awakening by Kate Chopin which was first printed in 1899 and was considered quite risque at the time.  This is the story of a woman who did not marry for love and fell in love with a young man after she had two children.  At the same time she is searching for her identity as a person.  When the young man turns away even though he loves her she takes a long swim.  It's sad.  4 stars  

Also read Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen for A book that changed the world - chose a selection from the Modern Library 100 Best Novels since this one was on my shelf already.  It's a coming of age book.  Portia is 16, has lost both parents and lives with her brother and his wife.  She is lonely, feels displaced, and is looking for someone to love her.  She settles on Eddie, a strange, unsettled friend of her brother's wife.  When her brother, Thomas, and his wife, Anna, take a trip they leave her with Anna's former governess who has young people living with her.  Portia finds friends, invites Eddie to the beach for a disastrous weekend, and returns home a different person.  She discovers that Anna read her diary and runs away.  The author does a fine job of helping the reader understand Portia.  Good read.  4 stars

Dystopias:   1984 by George Orwell, 1/2/2012:  A classical read about a world controlled by Big Brother.  The story depicts a negative Utopia world spawned by Hitler's approach to the people of Germany and the countries he  captured.   Can life really be this hopeless?   Will people succumb to pressures that dehumanize them?  Will love,  compassion and such emotions become a thing of the past?  Key character of this novel is Winston Smith who deep in his heart believes there can be a better world than the one in which he lives.  He falls in love with Julia who has similar beliefs and they have a love affair.  Of course, they are caught, suffer torture, demeaning experiences and brainwashing.  The negative theme of the book continues to the last page.  For me it was a depressing but thought provoking read.  Perhaps, we all should read 1984.  4 stars



Last Edited on: 4/11/12 12:13 PM ET - Total times edited: 15
Date Posted: 2/14/2012 9:16 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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I just finished my third challenge book (a classic you consider short): Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut.  I liked it ok, especially the beginning.  But overall I didn't like it as much as Slaughterhouse Five.

Subject: Charles Dickens
Date Posted: 2/16/2012 12:27 AM ET
Member Since: 11/15/2011
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I recently finished Great Expectations for my February challenge in honor of Dickens' 200th birthday.  I loved it.  So many characters and plot threads magically woven together into a unique tapestry!  Some of my favorite characters: Joe Gargery (kindness personified), Mr. Wemmick (who lived two lives), and Miss Havisham (who gives new meaning to the word eccentric).

After finishing this classic, I promised myself that I would continue to read one Dickens novel every year.  

Date Posted: 2/16/2012 5:17 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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Oh wow, Mary!   You plan to read also Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, Nicholas Nickleby, Barnaby Rudge. Martin Chuzzlewit, The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, Dombey and Son, Bleak House, Hard Times, Little Dorrit, Our Mutual Friend, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood ?That's seventeen years' worth!   WAy to go, bookmarm!  My respects to you.

P.S.  That list may not be anywhere near a complete list of his novels.

Date Posted: 2/16/2012 10:01 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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I started a re-read of Uncle Tom's Cabin. I've read this many years ago and remember I enjoyed it.

This time around I am just not in the mood to watch such a sad, sweet character get abused to death and my, my  Mrs. Stowe was more verbose than a Bronte sister.

 

 

Date Posted: 2/17/2012 1:54 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2009
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I finished Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott last night.  This is one of those ones that's been on my list ever since I first heard of it as a teen.  I loved the satire about government mandates and social expectations.  I thought it was cool how when the narrator went to one land he felt himself so incredibly superior, but when he went to the other he felt so inferior.  Fascinating read!

Tome, I remember reading "Uncle Tom's Cabin" my Junior year of High School.  I should reread it now that I have a better understanding of what the book is actually about.

Mary, I really enjoyed "Great Expectations" when we read it back in High School because it was such a let down at the end.

I'm currently reading "A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess and have "Slaughterhouse-Five" on order at the library.

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 2/18/2012 11:50 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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That's seventeen years' worth!   WAy to go, bookmarm!  My respects to you

Some of those books are really short, so could probably double up, lol. I highly recommend Pickwick Papers though. I loved that story.  I have read four Charles Dickens books so far and hope to get through the rest at some point. Glad you loved Great Expectations, good book, not my favorite of his. Tale of Two Cities, will always be my favorite, though like I said, I really like Pickwick Papers.

Date Posted: 2/18/2012 5:31 PM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2009
Posts: 483
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I've read The 39 Steps by John Buchan, supposedly one of the first of the thrillers and enjoyed quite a lot. In the first chapter,  a character expresses some upsetting anti-Semitic yuck but this is confined to this minor character who is later described as something of a crazy guy.  It was written in 1915 but has a rather timeless feeling to it and turns out to be a fun ride with exciting situations and a (almost) believable save-the-day protagonist.   I used this for the short book category.  Right now I'm reading Mapp and Lucia by E.F. Benson as my Wit Lit selection and The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett as my Noir choice.  I am thoroughly enjoying both books and startling they are in contrast to each other!  Hammett's book is vice-filled and twisty.  I am surprised by how engrossing it is.  I doubt it will take long to finish.  The Lucia book is fun, snarky and delightful bedtime reading. 

Date Posted: 2/19/2012 11:25 AM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2009
Posts: 8,022
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I finished A Clockwork Orange yesterday.  I love the movie version and was happy to find that the movie stuck so close to the book with the exception of the 21st ("missing") chapter.  I like both endings for different reasons.  SPOILER**One version suggest that a person will remain bad if given the chance, while the other suggests that a person may at some point grow out of it.**END SPOILER

Date Posted: 2/19/2012 2:02 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 551
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Michele W., you mentioned Mapp and Lucia. I ADORE THE LUCIA SERIES! I have read all the books numerous times, and never tire of them. Benson has written over a hundred books, and many of them are spoofs on British society, but his Lucia is priceless!

It's odd: I posted a little while back about libraries; that's how I discovered Lucia. I had decided to read all the books on a random shelf, and the Lucia books drew me in. As I said, I kept reading them over and over; the rest of that shelf remained untouched.

                                                                                                                                      Rose

Date Posted: 2/19/2012 9:04 PM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2009
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Rose, it's great to talk to a fellow Luciaphil!  I was entertained by the first book of the series, but Lucia in London had me hooked!  I am savoring this series.  I have been a big fan of BBC's Keeping Up Appearances and wonder if it was inspired by these witty books.

Well, I finished The Maltese Falcon and it was certainly fast-paced, but I'm not a fan of noir.  I like a little more heart in my fiction, even murder mysteries, lol.

Date Posted: 2/20/2012 3:28 AM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 551
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Michele, several  years ago I joined the E.F. Benson Society. I receive the annual edition of the little magazine Dodo, which always features something unique.

My dream would be to attend the Benson celebration held each summer in Rye.

Have you read any biography about Benson? What a very strange family. FASCINATING.

                                                                                     Rose

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 2/28/2012 8:32 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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I read Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling today for the Wit Lit category.  My mom use to read these to me when I was a kid, so it was kinda like a walk down memory lane, except I understood more of the words this time around, lol.

I am half way through Alice in Wonderland  and will be imediately following it with Through the Looking Glass. I have a lot of free time this week to read, which will disapear again next week, so I am trying to take advantage, lol.

Date Posted: 2/29/2012 1:21 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
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I finished Giants in the Earth a couple days ago: that is a PERFECT book. Thanks to the Classics Challenge--I would not have picked it up on my own.

                                                                                                                                        Rose

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