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Topic: Classic Challenge 2011: second draft

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Subject: Classic Challenge 2011: second draft
Date Posted: 10/27/2010 8:57 AM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 551
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I am impressed with all the thoughtful posts. I also love Barbara B.'s definition of "classic," and suggest that we agree to use that.

So here's draft 2:

Literary classics are written works "50 or more years old that are of high quality and whose importance is unquestioned."

1. a sea saga

2. an author's first novel

3. novel by a non-European author

4. family conflicts

5. Belle Epoque novel

6. Faulkner (or suggest other author) novel

7. frontier/pioneer/western

8. classic play

9. classic written by a woman

10. classic adventure

11. children's classic

12. short story collection

Your thoughts on this?

                                                                        Rose

Date Posted: 10/27/2010 12:57 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
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We are doing better than I ever expected. My specific thoughts:

1.  We will be pressed to find legit classic sea sagas other than Conrad. Fine. Very fine. He remains the greatest English novelist.

2.  An author's first novel?  Very very problematic. I know of no great writer whose first novel was a classic. Maybe one. First novel by one of the unquestioned great writers?

5. What is that?

6. Yes, yes, yes. Faulkner is America's greatest novelist. If all we get done with this challenge is expose all to one of his many great ones, this challenge will be a roaring success.

7.  I can only think of a couple of ladies who will truly qualify unless we get pretty lax with our standards. Then again, there is East of Eden.

( I should be snarked for daring to comment at all. I have about half of this year's left to read, (all the longest ones) strictly from being a putterofferneverdoer)

Date Posted: 10/27/2010 1:01 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
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More thoughts:    We would have to relax the dates slightly on this one, but how about  a classic novel by either a Native American or African American. There is so much there that most of us know so little about. And so much really good stuff.

Date Posted: 10/27/2010 4:52 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2009
Posts: 611
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I think the definition of  "classic" I offered is a good general definition; however, in order to include as many people as possible who wish to participate, I suggest we not be too strict. By narrowing the definition, we should be attempting to exclude most of what is recently popular as it has not been time tested, and raising the quality of our member's reading; however, "classic" is really a subjective notion. I don't want to spoil the fun by too many  feeling like they're being weighed and measured by literary cops. If we are somewhat flexible, I think the current list is acceptable as given.

 Concerning an author's first novel, while it oft times might not be considered, in retrospect , to be of recognized importance or as high a quality as an author's more developed later works, surely it can be accepted as being indicative of future quality and that it has, despite its lack of polish,  been able to stand the test of time.

Perhaps, to accomodate John's desire for inclusion of Native & African Americans, we could broaden #9 to say a classic written by a woman, Native American, or African American. This would give a larger choice from three relatively smaller categories.

John:

I didn't understand the "East of Eden" comment. I know it was a book by John Steinbeck, but after that you lost me...?

Belle Epoque....(beautiful era) per Wikipedia:

was a period in European social history that began during the late 19th century and lasted until World War I. Occurring during the time of the French Third Republic and the German Empire, the "Belle Époque" was named in retrospect, when it began to be considered a "golden age" the major powers of Europe, new technologies improved lives and the commercial arts adapted Renaissance and eighteenth-century styles to modern forms. In the newly rich United States, emerging from the Panic of 1873, the comparable epoch was dubbed the Gilded Age.[1] In the United Kingdom, this epoch overlaps the end of what is called the Victorian Era there and the period named the Edwardian Era.



Last Edited on: 10/27/10 6:06 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/27/2010 5:17 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
Posts: 4,130
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I want to comment on the definition of a classic and the books we're including in this challenge.

There are many titles that some scholars consider classics and other scholars do not.  Any definition that uses terms like "high quality" and "important" is going to be somewhat fluid.  Remember folks, we're doing this challenge for enjoyment (well, at least I am) and I don't want to be graded on my choice of books.  One of the reasons we read "high quality and important" books that were written many years ago (as opposed to those written 5 or 10 years ago) is to experience writing as it was done in the past, to see the world from the point of view of someone living 150 years ago.  Of course, not ANY book written 150 years ago (a poorly written book from any era is not the goal) but I don't want to have to run my titles past a panel of Cambridge professors to see if they qualify as classics.  Reading an author's first book would be interesting, even if, and maybe especially if, it wasn't the polished effort they gave later in their career--I think it's still in the spirit of a Classics challenge.  Let's not get too exclusive, or we'll all be reading the exact same few books that everyone in the entire world can agree are worthy.

Maybe some of the books I'm interested in reading would fit more in a forum called 19th century fiction or something of that nature, but the Classics forum is as close as we have at PBS, so I will be a little more lenient in choosing books if they are ones I especially want to read. 

Diane



Last Edited on: 10/27/10 5:17 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: more thoughts
Date Posted: 10/27/2010 8:39 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 551
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This list can be altered any number of ways. Some things I included ("sea saga," for example, and "western") because the category was suggested. We could easily substitute Native American or African-American for either one.

Please continue to comment!

                                                                                                             Rose

Date Posted: 10/28/2010 6:58 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 2,927
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Could we have a couple areas where we could sustitute (choose one ourselves that meets the basic criteria)?  For example, I'm not a Faulkner fan and I don't think I can bring myself to reading another novel by Faulkner.

Date Posted: 10/29/2010 3:46 AM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 551
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Perhaps each person could choose a particular author to include in their list. It doesn't have to be Faulkner.

                                                                                                                                             Rose

Date Posted: 10/29/2010 12:53 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2009
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I agree with REK. I'm not a Faulkner fan either, so I'd like a category where we choose the author. Maybe two wild card categories...one called "you choose the author" and the other "wild card"  where you choose some category that intrigues you that may be considered somewhat unusual. There are just some books that defy categorization right?!  I would love to keep the Sea story category, though, as that is one of my favorite genres! 

Date Posted: 10/30/2010 12:39 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 551
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I think items 5 and 6 could be considered wild cards (in that I've suggested that the reader choose the author for #6).

Belle Epoque could be substituted with an era of the reader's choice.

                                                                                                                              Rose

Date Posted: 10/30/2010 12:47 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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I will happily read Faulkner, if Dr. West will read Flannery O Connor. 

 

Date Posted: 10/30/2010 5:23 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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No matter which categories emerge from this "picking and choosing" among the great wealth of literature that is ours, I'm gonna "go again".  But probably once again the "Lite" Challenge, because of the topical reading I do, according to what happens in my personal life, what is recommended to me by my kids, grandkids, and certain friends, and whether or not I get into a regularly meeting discussion group in  2011.  Also, if I live all the way through the coming year . . .some of the categories proposed here are intriguing to me. '

But Prof Wildhog is probably quite correct to point out the "sea story' category is a little thin if one is looking for "classics".  Of course, as a teen I read some Howard Pease stories, and a little later, some of the Horatio Hornblower series, and even one of Jack London's books could probably be classified as a sea story, but they certainly are not 'classics',  I even doubt whether Mutiny on the Bounty is, either.   (One odd thought that passed through my mind was that The Man Without a Country is (kind of) a sea-going story, since he had to spend his entire life afloat!) 

I await with interest the "hard-boiled" version of the list.  "Soft-boil" and "hard-boil" are terms we used to use in newspapering when copy had to be shortened, either 'somewhat' or 'severely'.



Last Edited on: 10/30/10 5:26 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/30/2010 6:03 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2009
Posts: 611
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I totally disagree with comments stating the sea story category is "a little thin".  The category is rich with quantity and depth. You cannot lightly dismiss the likes of Conrad, London, Melville, James Fenimore Cooper, Kipling, Marryat, Robert Louis Stevenson, Hemingway, Darwin, Richard Henry Dana, and Homer to give a small sample.  Also, don't neglect all the world cultures with a maritime tradition and their ancient mythologies such as the Irish, Greeks, and Scandinavians to mention but a few.   Sea writing is one of the oldest genres.

Date Posted: 10/30/2010 7:40 PM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2009
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Hmmm, concerning the sea going category, would Jack London's The Sea-Wolf be considered a classic?  Mutiny on the Bounty is not a classic? 

Date Posted: 10/31/2010 4:27 AM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 551
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I would certainly consider both The Sea-Wolf and Mutiny on the Bounty to be classics. And thanks again, Barbara, for adding so many more suggestions in that vein.

John W., I like your refining an author's first book  (which might not be a classic) to "first novel by one of the unquestioned great writers."

                                                                                                                                                          Rose

Subject: Love the list
Date Posted: 11/2/2010 12:46 AM ET
Member Since: 8/19/2010
Posts: 128
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Willa Cather, Flannery O'Connor, Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir....and I'm sure a glance at my bookshelf will remind me of other classic women authors. Keeping #9 will help people discover some writers that perhaps have been overlooked. I've been dying to re-visit Faulkner- delighted to see him on the list. Just remembered Pearl Buck as I tried to think of sea-faring novels on my list. Would Old Man and the Sea count?
Date Posted: 11/7/2010 12:24 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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 Also, if I live all the way through the coming year . . .

 

Bonnie you are scaring me.

Date Posted: 11/7/2010 2:53 PM ET
Member Since: 10/4/2010
Posts: 244
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Perhaps "contemporary classics" should be allowed. These could include prestigious award-winners (Booker, Pulitzer, National Book Award)...? That would open up the "women"/non-"dead white male" category (which I'd personally like to see as separate categories) a bit more to include, for example, authors like Toni Morrison & Ralph Ellison...which also would facilitate the aim of "seeing the world from alternate points of view" (compared to the traditional canon) -- thank you for articulating that, Diane. On top of MP G's additions to the "female writers" category: Jane Austen, George Eliot, the Bronte sisters, Mary Shelley, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kate Chopin, and the somewhat lesser-known Elizabeth Gaskell. I am not a Faulkner fan either but am willing to push through one of his novels if that's what everyone ends up agreeing to. Another personal preference: combine short story & play (or add poetry to one of these).