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Topic: Classic Epic Novel Suggestions (for Kim)

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Subject: Classic Epic Novel Suggestions (for Kim)
Date Posted: 11/28/2009 4:56 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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I originally picked out Grapes of Wrath because (a) I loved it, and (b) I wasn't thrilled with reading some ancient tome such as The Odyssey or something as large as War and Peace.

After a lot of Internet research I settled on The Three Muskateers.

Date Posted: 11/28/2009 5:36 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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More suggestions:

Les Miserables

A Tale of Two Cities

Ulysses

Moby Dick

East of Eden

Doctor Zhivago

Anna Karenina

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

War and Remembrance

Winds of War



Last Edited on: 11/28/09 6:26 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/28/2009 5:55 PM ET
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And Lord of the Rings.  We cannot leave out LotR.

I think Wouk's books are a little recent for classic status (1970s) but YMMV.

Date Posted: 11/28/2009 6:26 PM ET
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I think Wouk's books are a little recent for classic status (1970s)

Oops, you're right, they're too recent. Scratch W&W and WofW.

Date Posted: 11/28/2009 9:30 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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At 350 pages I'm not sure A Tale of Two Cities qualifies as epic, but almost all of Dickens' other stuff probably would (Bleak House, Nicholas Nickelby, The Pickwick Papers etc).

Also: For Whom the Bell Tolls, Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, The Count of Monte Cristo, Gone With the Wind, Ben-Hur, Vanity Fair, Lord Jim, The Aeneid



Last Edited on: 11/28/09 9:44 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/29/2009 12:54 AM ET
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Legnth doesn't really have anything to do with being epic, I don't think. 

Date Posted: 11/29/2009 5:17 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2009
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Also:

Gargantua and Pantagruel by Rabelais

India's:   Mahabharata   and    Ramayana

Paradise Lost

The Faerie Queen by Spenser

Troilus and Chrysede by Chaucer

 

I found this link www.allbookstores.com that lists epics as a book category.  The classics are mixed with contemporary fiction and the list gets repetitive but I found some surprises that could be used in this challenge like  "The Tin Drum" by Gunter Grass and  "The Forsyte Saga" by John Galsworthy.  And also, I found listed there  "The World's Desire" by H. Rider Haggard (author of SHE)  & Andrew Lang (compiler/translator of fairy stories, myths, and legends)   It could very well fall under the epic classic category and be a fun read, too.   Written in 1922, it's the "continuing" saga of Odysseus.  (Imagine that! Poor guy, after all he had been through!)

Rick B. (bup) - ,
Date Posted: 11/30/2009 8:31 AM ET
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I opened this thinking someone was recommending Rudyard Kipling's Kim. Don't read it! It's bad!

Date Posted: 11/30/2009 9:45 PM ET
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Amerigo: Do you know where The Mahabharata, can be found in English translation? I don't think any work of literature, period, matches this work, and this evaluation is based only on the 5 books I have been able to find. I knew a professor who had the whole thing, his was in 22 volumes, but alas, it was in Farsi. (Even named my dog Arjuna, and a brave and fearless warrior he is too)

Date Posted: 11/30/2009 10:09 PM ET
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The NY Public has the whole thing in Sanskrit.  There has to be a complete English version somewhere.  Where's Richard Burton when you need him?

Date Posted: 12/1/2009 8:44 PM ET
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John W--   Your professor must have treasured those volumes.   

The full sanskrit version is available online, too.  (The power of the internet.)   But what a shame that only the abriged version is available in English.  You would have thought a scholar would have jumped to the challenge long ago.  However, iIt's very possible that James L. Fitzgerald is continuing where the translator and scholar J. A. B. van Buitenen left off.   Here's a link: www.amazon.com/Mahabharata-Book-Women-Peace-Part/dp/0226252507/ref=pd_sim_b_4    It could be that the full version, or close to it, might be translated into english fairly soon, after all.   

Wonderful name for your dog, by the way.

 

 

 

 

 



Last Edited on: 12/2/09 4:05 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 12/9/2009 5:34 PM ET
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I guess I am confused on what is considered an epic. I thought an Epic was a tale written in poem form, like the Illiad, Odyssey, Inferno, Paradise Lost, Beowolf, etc.

But looking at the lists above I am not sure?

Date Posted: 12/9/2009 5:40 PM ET
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I guess I am confused on what is considered an epic. I thought an Epic was a tale written in poem form, like the Illiad, Odyssey, Inferno, Paradise Lost, Beowolf, etc.

Me, too.  And I think if you want to be super strict, there must be gods.  I'm a little confused by this as well.  I think people are taking it to mean "long".  I think we're being very liberal with the interpretations, which is fine too.

ETA - I think we're using the word "epic" in the colloquial rather than in the lit crit sense.



Last Edited on: 12/9/09 5:42 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/9/2009 6:56 PM ET
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Well if Beowulf qualifies, I am good. LOL.

Just don't wanna read The Ody

Date Posted: 12/9/2009 9:21 PM ET
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Just out of curiosity, I googled "epic literature definition" and found this:

Epic. An extended narrative poem recounting actions, travels, adventures, and heroic episodes and written in a high style (with ennobled diction, for example). It may be written in hexameter verse, especially dactylic hexameter, and it may have twelve books or twenty four books. Characteristics of the classical epic include these:

  • The main character or protagonist is heroically larger than life, often the source and subject of legend or a national hero
  • The deeds of the hero are presented without favoritism, revealing his failings as well as his virtues
  • The action, often in battle, reveals the more-than-human strength of the heroes as they engage in acts of heroism and courage
  • The setting covers several nations, the whole world, or even the universe
  • The episodes, even though they may be fictional, provide an explanation for some of the circumstances or events in the history of a nation or people
  • The gods and lesser divinities play an active role in the outcome of actions
  • All of the various adventures form an organic whole, where each event relates in some way to the central theme

That's a lot more complex than I thought.  I'd have just said lengthy, covering a lot of territory in terms of time, geography, and cast of characters.

Date Posted: 12/10/2009 4:44 AM ET
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I also googled epic.  And, since I don't want to read an epic poem, I choose to go with the epic novel which is what some have as the challenge category. 

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 12/10/2009 6:26 AM ET
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Thank you Sharla, I guess by that definition Beowolf doesnt count. It doesnt take place in multiple countries etc. If I remember correctly (been ~20yrs since I read it) it only took place in one area. I found a list on About.com and they consider The Aeneid by Virgil as an epic novel. I have that one on my TBR as well.  I'll use that one. 

I just read through the original "2010 reading" thread and early on Michael posted what his intention of the Epic category is for this challenge. He is talking about Epic size "over 500 pages". Aeneid and Beowold definately wont qualify.  I will have to think about that one. I may move Moby Dick to this category.



Last Edited on: 12/10/09 7:24 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/18/2009 9:31 AM ET
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There has been a fair amount of discussion as to what is going to qualify as an epic for this challenge, i.e., novel, poem, length.  Has clarification been offered or a concensus reached?  Maybe I missed it.



Last Edited on: 12/18/09 5:00 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/18/2009 4:52 PM ET
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I can't accept a definition of "epic" that does not include Beowulf.  Beowulf is THE English epic, regardless of it's length.

That's what I'm reading for this part of the challenge. 

Date Posted: 12/18/2009 5:24 PM ET
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I can't accept a definition of "epic" that does not include Beowulf. 

Agreed.  Or the Aeneid.

I'm thinking I might re-read Le Morte d'Arthur for this. 

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 12/18/2009 10:58 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
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Beowolf was the first thing that popped into my mind when I thought of an Epic as well.

Date Posted: 4/12/2010 12:53 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
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Despite this discussion, there still does not seem to be any consensus about what constitutes an "epic" in terms of this challenge. I'm guessing that we're going with EITHER the classical definition that Sharla posted above (e.g., The Aeneid, Beowulf, The Odyssey) OR length (i.e., over 500 pp. such as Moby Dick, The Count of Monte Cristo, War and Peace). Is this correct?

(I know it doesn't REALLY matter, but it would make me feel better to know that I can choose one or the other without thinking that others are silently disdaining my choice. )

Rick B. (bup) - ,
Date Posted: 4/12/2010 1:43 PM ET
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It's up to you. We also never really said what a 'classic' was either.

In my mind, an epic is a big story about a hero's journey. The written-in-verse part doesn't matter much in my mind, and the gods in it can be figurative (like, the Mississippi River being the god of Huck Finn).

If you think it's epic, go with it.

Date Posted: 4/12/2010 10:17 PM ET
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(I know it doesn't REALLY matter, but it would make me feel better to know that I can choose one or the other without thinking that others are silently disdaining my choice

Deb, if you cut some words and rearrange others in your last statement I think you can go onreading in peace. Try this:

REALLY, It doesn't matter....that others are disdaining my choice...I can choose one or the other.

Date Posted: 4/12/2010 10:36 PM ET
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I did The Counte of Monte Cristo and loved it.To me it was an epic because 1) it was over 500 pages and 2) it was about a journey of self-discovery.

I LOVE The Odyssey! It is one of my absolute FAVORITE stories of all time. Just be sure to get a good translation, that's all I can say.

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