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Topic: New to Classical Lit reading

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Subject: New to Classical Lit reading
Date Posted: 4/27/2010 8:26 AM ET
Member Since: 6/14/2006
Posts: 4
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Hi everyone,

I'm sort of new to classical reading. I never felt like I did much in school, so i figured I'd start now... but, where to start?  Anyone have any suggestions?

I feel like its too hard just to jump right into the literature section and simply pick one, though maybe thats my best bet?

I've liked: war of the worlds, the great gatsby, pride and prejudice, the scarlet letter

Things I haven't: Wuthering Heights

Thanks. 

Date Posted: 4/27/2010 9:40 AM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
Posts: 402
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Hey Erin! Welcome to the board. What I did was read Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. Both are short and sweet which helped boost my confidence and read other classics. Maybe you should just join the Classics Challenge and see where it takes you. Good Luck! Mick
Date Posted: 4/28/2010 1:59 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Well. . . you could always try other novels by those authors that you liked before. . . F. Scott Fitzgerald only wrote three other novels -- This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and the Damned, and Tender is the Night -- and Jane Austen only wrote five other novels -- Emma, Persuasion, Sense & Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park -- and Nathaniel Hawthorne had six or seven others. (All not counting the ones that were unfinished and published posthumously.)

Alternately, you could read authors that influenced those ones you mentioned (can't provide titles here -- wasn't an English major, lol) or authors that were influenced by those ones you mentioned.

Or, there's a site http://www.literature-map.com where you can type in an author and get a fun cloud of all the authors whose fan base overlaps. . . the closer an author's name to the one you typed in, the more likely you are to like it. Surprising to me (though probably not to you) F. Scott Fitzgerald comes up right next to Jane Austen. Some others nearby are Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), Willa Cather (O Pioneers! and My Antonia), Mark Twain (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), and Thomas Hardy (Tess of the d'Urbervilles).

And of course, I'll plug the classics challenge too. ;)

Date Posted: 4/28/2010 1:17 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 2,915
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Last Edited on: 7/12/10 1:45 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 4/28/2010 3:18 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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I also recommend W.S. Maugham's work, especially The Painted Veil.

Date Posted: 5/2/2010 7:50 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
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Many of the classic books have been made into movies.  So another approach might be to read the books of any of the movies you liked.

Date Posted: 5/3/2010 1:36 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 123
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I agree with others who've suggested reading other books by the authors you've liked. Jane Austen's novels are ALL phenomenal reads, and since out of the ones you mentioned I've only read Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights, I can't say much more than that. You might like Charlotte Bronte's novels--she was the sister of Emily Bronte who wrote WH, but her writing isn't as dark and wild. She has dark elements, but I'd say she's in between Jane and Emily.

Date Posted: 5/6/2010 4:14 AM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2005
Posts: 28
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Yes, yes, and YES to everyone's suggestion about starting with the favored author's other work. I devoured all of Betty Smith's books after reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I ADORE F. Scott Fitzgerald's other work, even more so than The Great Gatsby (although I know critically they don't compare). That's how I started with my love of classics. It grew from there. Try Thomas Hardy (especially Jude the Obscure and Tess of the d'Urbervilles) and Theodore Dreiser (Sister Carrie and An American Tragedy). Some of my other favorites: Jane Eyre (I actually didn't care for Wuthering Heights, and I pretty much agree with what artFling says above), A Farewell to Arms (Hemingway), and House of Mirth (Edith Wharton). These are just my personal favorites, but hopefully it gives you somewhere to start. 

Date Posted: 5/6/2010 4:35 AM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2005
Posts: 28
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Oh, and maybe work your way up to the Wharton and Hardy novels, because they can be slow at times (but so worth it)! 

Date Posted: 5/7/2010 6:24 PM ET
Member Since: 6/14/2006
Posts: 4
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Thank you so much, everyone.  These are amazing ideas.  I will most assuredly heed all the above advice.  I even unofficially entered the challenge with a few friends to keep me on track. 

Date Posted: 5/8/2010 5:22 AM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2005
Posts: 28
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Erin, keep us posted! I'd love to hear about your adventures with the classics!