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Topic: Contemporary book with classical authors

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Kat (polbio) -
Subject: Contemporary book with classical authors
Date Posted: 3/2/2012 10:22 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
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There are few contemporary books which I have read that, to me, have the feel of classical writings. I am finding that some books which use  classical authors as either the main character or the subtext of the plot tend to have a classical feel. I am not talking about the cozy mystery series' with Jane austen and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as the "honorary detectves" but books like Matthew Pearl's Dante Club and Arturo Perez-Reverte's Club Dumas.  I found two more books which I am hoping I will enjoy as much, Drood by Dan Simmons (about Charles Dickens, told through the eyes of Wilkie Collins) and The Dracula Dossier by James Reese (about Bram Stoker). So far i have mixed feelings about Drood. The authors style was a bit of a turn off in the first chapter, but once he got into the meat of the story, it has gotten much better. Supposedly based on true events, it is really interesting so far, but I am only 50 pages into the 700 page book.

Have any of you read this style of writing? They usually fall under mysteries (atleast the ones I like to read), but not sure if they have a genre of their own. Any others you would recommend?

Date Posted: 3/3/2012 9:36 AM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2008
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These aren't mysteries, but I find that Robin McKinley's books based on fairy tales feel like they will stand the test of time, just like fairy tales themselves have done.

I was disappointed in Emily's Ghost, which is a fiction based upon the Bronte sisters. That one fits your description better, but doesn't really fit the classic feel you're trying to pin down.

Now you've got me thinking about classical authors and how they fit into books written about them.

Date Posted: 3/3/2012 2:33 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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I hated Dracula Dossier.  I had to drag myself to the end of it; it was dull dull dull.  I've found most Dracula sequels or >ahem< revamps to be awful.  I also hated Dracula: the Undead by Dacre Stoker (Bram's heir).

I didn't love Drood although I love the author Dan Simmons.  He's brilliant when he's on his game but Drood was too long.  I'd recommend The Terror instead.  It's Simmons supernatural-laced account of the lost ships HMS Erebus & HMS Terror and their crews.

I'd list The Thirteenth Tale on the list of contemporary books that feel like classic fiction.  You can tell that the author was channeling the Brontes.

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 3/3/2012 3:34 PM ET
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I loved the Thirteenth Tale and yes it was very Broteesc (is that a word, lol). Simmons seems to be obsessed with the Franklin Expedition, the story in Drood so far has a lot of references to it. I am sorry to hear that about Dracula Dossier. It sounded really interesting. I am almost 200 pages into Drood now and it is ok. Not as good as I had hoped, but not all that bad that I would put it down. I

 

I remember reading a Robin McKinley book about Sleeping Beauty called Spindles End. And I didnt like it. But it was well written, just not my cup of tea.  I picked up two of the Gregory Maguire books. HAve you read those? I know they turned Wicked into a play. I havent read them yet, but they are sitting on my shelf.

Date Posted: 3/3/2012 5:18 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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Hmmmmm.........I think the adjective form would be "Brontean".   Not a lot of writers seem to have merited the creation of an adjective form based on the author's name.  But the coinage depends on the writer's name . . . .for example, Kafka led to "Kafkaesque", as in "Kafkaesque bureaucratic delays";  Dickens to "Dickensian" as in "the Dickensian squalor of London's slums"; and Proust to "Proustian, as in "Proustian resonances of the recalled past".; and (Henry) James as in "has written a Jamesian  novel of psychological tension".   But that is only a short list------I'm pretty sure that there are readers in this Forum who can amplify it.

Date Posted: 3/3/2012 7:53 PM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2008
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Oh I couldn't have finished that Dacre Stoker book without gouging out my eyes. I havent read the Warrington one yet, is it better?

I'll have to look into those books of Brontean propensities, lol.

My favorites of Robin McKinley dealt mainly with Beauty and the Beast retellings- she did several versions of the same tale, which was surprisingly fascinating for me.

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 3/3/2012 8:46 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
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Lora, if you like the Bronte sisters you may like Thirteenth Tale. It has a Wuthering Heights feel to it (a little too much in the begining to my liking, lol,) and if I remember correctly, Jane Eyre is referrenced a lot.

Date Posted: 3/4/2012 8:09 AM ET
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I have now ordered Thirteenth Tale to see for myself. A couple others came up in the search that I put on my reminder list for now, including The Dracula Dossier. It's what I like about pbs- it's a growing, organic book list that never ends!



Last Edited on: 3/4/12 8:12 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/4/2012 12:40 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
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Kate Morton is a contemporary author whose books have a decidedly classic feel. I especially suggest The Forgotten Garden, a mesmerizing story.

                                                                                                                                                  Rose

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 3/4/2012 2:38 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
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Rose, Thank you. I just looked it up and will be ordering that book. It sounds really good.

Date Posted: 3/5/2012 7:41 PM ET
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Not to keep dumping on your TBR but Gregory Maguire is one author I'd rather eat paint chips than read.  Wicked is the only book I gave up on.  Ever.  I also read Mirror Mirror and Lost.  The writing in both was so convoluted and the narrative made so little sense that I barely got through them.

 

Bonnie here's some other adjectives derived from authors that I can think of:   Orwellian, Lovecraftian, Byronic, Homeric, and of course Shakespearean



Last Edited on: 3/5/12 7:41 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/5/2012 8:56 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
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a few contemporary books that, to me, have the feel of classical writings....

The operative phrase here is, to me 

LIterature that fits most accepted definitions of a classic is, as it should be, totally diverse as to style, genre...etc.   to me, Oedipus Rex, The Inferno, and The Sound and The Fury could not "feel" much more different.

That said, I have read quite a bit of Dan Simmons. There is a two-volume pair titled Ilium and Olympus. As a work of imagination, they definitely match anything I have ever read. Most of the characters from Homer are there. sort of. They share what is  probably a dying universe with androids that Steven Spielberg would be proud of, except they are beyond his capabilities. And oh, yes, Zeus and Hera and all the rest are pretty pissed off at the way humans and androids are revising, literally, everything that happened in The Odyssey and The Iliad. And they are the big bosses.

I would recommend this pair most highly. But it, in itself, is far too diverse to judge how it "felt," even to me.

Date Posted: 3/6/2012 7:58 AM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2008
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My TBR list is growing by leaps and bounds while following Kat's OP!

I couldn't get through Wicked either.

If I might throw this out there: Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine feels so classic to me, at least it feels timeless. I reread it regularly. But I wouldn't know how to make Bradbury into...Bradburial? LOL!

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 3/6/2012 8:41 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
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I like Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 which is considered a classic. My oldest DD prefers his Martian Chronicles, but I couldnt get into it.

John, Ilium and Olympus sound good. i will check those out..

hehe, sevenspiders, dump away.

Date Posted: 3/7/2012 5:38 AM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
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Here's my take on Wicked: what a miserable book! It started out so well, and then it reached a plodding stage, and then. . .and then. .  I finally finished it, vowing never to read any sequels.

                                                                               Rose

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 3/8/2012 8:55 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
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I have Lost and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. Didnt realize his books were THAT bad, lol. Everyone always raves about WIcked the musical, so I thought just maybe his books would be worth it, lol. 

Date Posted: 3/17/2012 8:21 PM ET
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I just started The Thirteenth Tale. I"m going very slowly, to make it laaaaaassst...so far, I love it.

Date Posted: 7/20/2012 4:53 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
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I forced myself to finish Wicked, then was glad I had since I went to see it on stage in London with a girl scout troop--- I would never had understood parts of the show if I hadn't read the book first. The show is part of the season here at the Straz Performing Arts Center in Tampa so will get to see it again this coming winter. I felt 'Stepsister' was a better story but won't go out of my way to read more by Maguire.

Last Edited on: 7/20/12 4:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/23/2012 6:11 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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Lora:  The ghost of Emily Bronte was one of the three leading female "characters" in an unusual novel by Canadian Jane Urquhart.  The second character, also a 'ghost', was a "lady aeronaut" of the era of ballooning (19th century).  And the third, NOT a 'ghost', was a present-day woman Bronte scholar from Canada, gone to "the moors" to 'see for herself', I suppose.  If you take the time to look at this one, entitled Changing Heaven, I'd be interested to hear your comments.



Last Edited on: 7/23/12 6:13 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
hro
Date Posted: 9/27/2012 9:06 AM ET
Member Since: 8/28/2011
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Tom-All-Alone's by Lynn Shepherd is essentially Dickens’ “Bleak House” told from a different perspective, and the writing style has a definite classic tone.  (The book also features characters from Collins’ “The Woman in White’ and Dickens and Collins have a wee cameo appearance.) Shepherd is also the author of 'Murder at Mansfield Park' which is a twist on the Austen tale; I haven't read this one so I can't say whether it's a good read. 



Last Edited on: 9/27/12 9:07 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 11/28/2012 9:51 PM ET
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Sevenspiders, I should have listened to you with the Dracula Dossier. It was really hard to read. The author tried way to hard. It was loaded down with too many details that were irrelevant to the rest of the story.  UGhh!!

Date Posted: 11/29/2012 3:24 PM ET
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Still reading Dostoyevsky . . . . . and thinking "there is no other writer anything like him" . . . .

P.S.  Upon reconsidering,  I'm thinking "Brontesque" maybe should be the adjective form?



Last Edited on: 11/29/12 3:24 PM ET - Total times edited: 1