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Topic: It's June. What Classic Literature (challenge or not) are You Reading?

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Subject: It's June. What Classic Literature (challenge or not) are You Reading?
Date Posted: 6/2/2010 3:06 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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So what if I stole this thread idea from the Hidden Gems forum? At least our lists will be short and readable.evilgrin0030.gif

 

I am giving Silas Marner a try tonight. Didn't realize it is so short.

Next up:

Red Badge of Courage. My copy finally arrived.

Maybe some Willa Cather. I have a copy of Death Comes to the Archbishop on the way.

I also want to start Ivanhoe.

Date Posted: 6/2/2010 5:02 PM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2009
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Just finished Moonfleet last night by J. Meade Falkner.  I loved it! Lots of adventure and memorable scenes. Now I'm starting the Ellery Queen mystery The Greek Coffin Mystery.  It was written in 1932 and is supposed to be a stunner. 

Date Posted: 6/2/2010 5:14 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
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I'm just about to start my Classics Challenge Book from my TBR list:  Lucy Gayheart by Willa Cather.

Date Posted: 6/2/2010 7:00 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
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All this talk of Willa Cather makes me want to pick up one of her books! Tome, I hope you enjoy Death Comes for the Archbishop - I liked it even though it was quite different from My Antonia, which I loved.

I am currently reading Crime and Punishment by Dostoevski. Not enthralled yet but I'm only 40 pages into it . . .

Michele - let us know what you think of the Ellery Queen book.

 

Date Posted: 6/2/2010 10:50 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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I'm reading The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas. (Or at least I will be, once I finish a book or two in my other challenges. . .) Then I'm going to read Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov. I think I'm going to have to downgrade from the full to the lite challenge though. . . I'm falling too far behind!

Date Posted: 6/2/2010 11:57 PM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
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I finally had an opportunity to catch up on some of my classics reading. I finished McTeague by Frank Norris and loved every moment of it. I will write more about it in the challenege category. I am half way finished Josephine Tey's Daughter of Time. I was luke warm to it in the beginning but now I am really getting into it. Tome: Please keep us updated every book you mention has been one I wanted to read. Michelle: I am going to ride shotgun on Sheila's post about Ellery Queen. I have read the magazine that bears her name but never one of her books which is a shame. Phoenix: I know how you feel with the challenges.
Date Posted: 6/3/2010 5:38 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
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I'm working on Great Expectations by Dickens. 

Date Posted: 6/4/2010 8:31 AM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
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Aaagghhh -- so frustrating. I sometimes will listen to a book on audio that I am also reading in print. I started reading Seamus Heaney's Beowulf and so was excited to find in the library the audio version (read by the author). Much to my dismay, frustration, and irritation, it turns out to be an abridged audio version (which I discovered only when a part that I had read was missing from the audio). It was not at all clearly marked as abridged. Just as I will not read an abridged book, I will not listen to an abridged audio -- why, oh why, do "they" do that? Maybe I'd understand if we were talking about War and Peace or Moby Dick or some other doorstopper book -- but this poem is only 100 pages long (if you count only the modern English translation). At least, clearly mark the audio as abridged! Really -- how hard is that??? Ok -- rant over. [BTW, I am enjoying Beowulf.]

Date Posted: 6/4/2010 4:12 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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It's not on my  Challenge List, and may not be a "classic" per se, but I'm now reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac.  I guess its a modern classic.

Date Posted: 6/5/2010 1:30 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
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I started Quo Vadis for the challenge's Lost in Translation entry; I'm onlyabout 20-30 pages in and have no opinion yet.

Date Posted: 6/5/2010 9:09 AM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
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Willa Cather was one of my favorites way back when.

Currently I am rereading Persuasion by Jane Austen. I just collected a slew of classics for my high school aged sons to read, and I am planning on reading some that I have missed, like Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.

Date Posted: 6/5/2010 1:42 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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As a follow-up to A Farewell to Arms, I'm reading Goodbye to All That, by Robert Graves (the author of I, Claudius).   A good portion of it is about his experiences as a British officer during World War I.   

And I'm reading a book one of my grandchildren told me about, The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier, by Amy Wilentz.   Someone handed it to her to read the summer she went to assist at a clinic there.   It's a first-person account by  an articulate observer who lived there during much  of the bloody tumult that poor island went through.  The other night I watched a film by Jonathan Demme, "The Agronomist".   It's about Jean Leopold Dominique, who was trained as an agronomist, but became, by the turn of events, a radio journalist.  He reported on  the repression of the Haitian people first by the "President-for-life" and his militia, and later by a junta, until, as he arrived early in the morning at the station, he was shot to death by two gunmen. 

I hope to get back to the Challenge in July, after hubby is well again. 

Date Posted: 6/5/2010 5:13 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
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I just finished Willa Cather's Lucy Gayheart.  It was a quick, easy read which I enjoyed.  

Date Posted: 6/6/2010 7:00 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
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Tome, I read Silas Marner recently and absolutely loved it, which comepletely surprised me.  Hope you enjoy it as much!

Vanessa, I would like to hear your opinion of On the Road.  I couldn't finish it, which saddened me because it had been on my TBR pile for years and years.

I just found yesterday a hardcover of Lady Chatterly's Lover at a church sale.  That will be the next "classic" I'll dive into.  I am curious to find out what all the fuss was about.

Date Posted: 6/7/2010 9:01 AM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
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Am reading I, Claudis by Robert Graves but not for the challenge.  The following were completed for the challenge.

Just finished Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson:  The introduction to this book by Vladimir Nabokov gives much insight into the times in which the story is set and the story itself. In some ways the tale mirrors the author's life (read the book to discover why). The key protagonist is Dr. Henry Jekyll who has spent much of his life with fruitless research. Dr. Jekyll is experimenting with drugs to separate admirable and evil characteristics each person has within himself. Surprisingly, he finds a drug mixture that does what he expects and he can become Mr. Hyde, a self-centered, pleasure-seeking, unlikeable and fearsome individual. As Mr. Hyde, he can revel in the baser pleasures that dwell in his heart. Eventually Mr. Hyde murders a much respected person in the community and the authorities search everywhere for the illusive killer. A part of Henry Jekyll abhors the murder and he is torn about what to do. Unfortunately, his supply of the basic drug he needs for his mixture is dwindling and he cannot find another. Furthermore, the baser personality is becoming dominant. He finds himself changing into Mr. Hyde without the drug mixture. Not only is his personality changing but his physical appearance is greatly altered. The tale is told by a friend of Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Utterson, a lawyer who wrote Jekyll's puzzling will. The story is one you should read if you are interested in classical tales.  In this edition, the introduction is 34 pages in length but well worth reading.  The tale itself is short.

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane:   What an interesting tale!  The descriptions of war are so realistic that one feels as if one were striding beside the youth, Henry, as he is baptized in battle.  In his first experience he finds himself joining those who run from the conflict just to survive.  He feels deep shame at his cowardice in this action and thinks deeply about it.  The walking dead that he meets and sees in his mind haunt him.  Perhaps it is his encounters with death and the wounded that help him face his action and return to his regiment.  Or, perhaps it is the blow upon his head that a crazed and wounded man inflicts that brings him to his senses or gives him a bloody badge that he can say was caused by a bullet.  Whatever it is Henry discovers the bond of wartime friendship, the thrill of the battle, and the wonder of defending his regiment.  The horror of war is illustrated clearly and distinctly by Crane.  It's a very good read.



Last Edited on: 6/30/10 10:19 PM ET - Total times edited: 5
Date Posted: 6/7/2010 10:36 AM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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REK,

Thanks for the summary. I've never read Dr. Jekyll and I never even knew exactly what it was about. I might chose it as my horror selection. Sounds good.

Date Posted: 6/7/2010 12:46 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
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Reading The Desert of Love by Francois Mauriac. Cat won a Nobel Prize for this one and others in 1952. When reading one for a category called lost in translation, the challenge is to figure out how much was there to lose in the first place. wink

Stephanie, RE: Lady Chatterly's Lover, The real challenge to this one is to figure out what anyone thought was so offensive/erotic in the first place. D.H.Lawrence's weakest novel by far.  Also, I remember Silas Marner well, but not the name of the well-intentioned H.S> English teach who crammed it down my throat once. I was probably always destined to be a prolific and omnivorous reader, but after being force-fed that one at 15 it is a wonder. So dry as to be a fire hazard.

Date Posted: 6/7/2010 4:41 PM ET
Member Since: 11/13/2008
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Last Edited on: 11/29/10 1:57 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/8/2010 8:20 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
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John--I hear ya.  I was not assigned Silas Marner in high school, which is fortunate, because undoubtedly I would have hated it at age 15.  But, ahem, you know, it's a few decades later and....well...it was just the right time for me and Silas to get get together.  I tell you, it's the most enjoyable book I've read so far this year.  I truly loved it.  So I'm doubly glad it was not assigned in high school, because I would never ever have picked it up again.  High school reading assignments have a way of turning alot of students off.  Permanently.  Which is more than a shame, it's a crime.

Date Posted: 6/8/2010 8:44 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
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I taught Silas Marner in 10th (I think) grade English back in the '70's.  I liked it and I believe that most of the kids did.  I haven't read it since but need to put in on my re-reading list.

Date Posted: 6/9/2010 12:55 PM ET
Member Since: 5/4/2008
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New to me author:  Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham.  I'm glad I read it but I'm even more glad that I'm done.  I found most of it brutally boring and I really wanted to just kick Phillip Carey.

Not sure what I'll read next...probably either Les Miserables or Ben Hur.

Date Posted: 6/10/2010 12:29 AM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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Something I enjoyed reading was The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. I know I read it years and years ago, but it was like reading it for the first time, and this time I actually understood what was going on and what Crane was trying to convey.

A funny: In my Barnes and Noble edition there is a nice introduction about the author and his work. It mentioned that Crane wrote in a realistic style. Terse prose. To the point. No romanticizing war. Hmmmm, sounds a lot like Hemingway. Here's an example of Crane's style:

He took out the cartridge and threw it in the mud and wiped his face and took out another cartridge and put it in the breech and locked the breech??

 It also explains that Ernest Hemingway was a big fan of Crane and, in fact, was influenced by Crane's style. A Farewell to Arms is so similar to Red Badge that there is no denying the influence, although Hemingway supposedly adamantly denied it.

There's no besting Crane especially in dialog. LOL. Wow! What a difference.

Date Posted: 6/10/2010 3:11 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
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Tome, I was assigned The Red Badge of Courage in high school and didn't like it then. About ten years ago I joined a book club that was reading one classic and one other book each month and had to read it again.  I didn't like it then, either. 

By the way, after just a few months of this book club (it was new and sponsored by our local newspaper), the members decided that they couldn't handle two books a month.  Crazy, huh?

Date Posted: 6/10/2010 6:16 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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since Stephanie asked, here (for what its worth) is my humble opinion of On the Road:  Eh.  Didn't love it, didn't hate it.  I guess, my reaction is.... I appreciate it.  Without Kerouac, one of my favorite books, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, would never have been written.  And I can appreciate it as a keystone of American literature.  But honestly, I didn't enjoy much of it.

Unlike Hunter Thompson, Kerouac's character/stand-in never seemed to really enjoy his travels, and never learned anything from them either, until almost literally the last paragraph.  F&L's charm is ironic blend of cynicism and optimism and the madcap glee of its hero.  On the Road barely came close to that and only towards the end.

And protagonist's quirky, free-spirited idol Dean Moriarty?  Getting married to any girl who get's him hot, knocking her up and then skipping town?  Leaving his best friend sick and alone in a foreign country? Damaging other people's property and lives left and right without thought?  I get that he's a "character", and that he's disconnected from society's mores, but really what it boils down to is that he's just an a$$hole.  I feel like an old fogey saying that, but I'm 25 and I've lived with people like that.  They can be fun in small doses but really toxic over longer periods.

Date Posted: 6/11/2010 3:35 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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I am reading Goodbye to All That, by Robert Graves, and finding my attention held rapt, like a bird opposite a swaying cobra.  It's the most unsettling book I have ever read, I think.  Only the first 66 pages have to do with a young English male's education.  After that come 200-plus pages of descriptions of World War I, the military incompetence, the fatalism, the learned indifference to the mutilation and slaughter, the mud, the blood, the atrocities, the fiendish weapons, the ethnic hatreds, the fierce regional rivalries, etc..  It all comes across as the more inhumane and ugly, somehow, because it is recited as if with  that storied  "stiff upper lip" of a Britisher.   There is no attempt on the writer's part, whatsoever, to sensationalize the horrors of that war.   The only thing  I can think of  that is somewhat similar to this book  is The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien.

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