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Topic: Pre-19th C. choices

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Subject: Pre-19th C. choices
Date Posted: 11/28/2009 3:54 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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Someone asked for suggestions for this category.  Here are two:  

The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.W. Goethe (1774)  (This may also be translated as the "Sufferings" of. etc.)

Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift (1726)

Date Posted: 11/28/2009 4:15 PM ET
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Moll Flanders! One of my all time favorite novels.  Also:

Les Liasons Dangereuse by Choderos de Laclos

Pamela - Samuel Richardson

Gargantua and Pantagruel by Rabelais

Utopia - Thomas More

Tom Jones - Henry Fielding

Fanny Hill - John Cleland

The Decameron isn't exactly a novel in the most traditional sense, but it's absolutely wonderful and completely entertaining (if you like sex, crime, shipwrecks, etc.)

The Tale of the Genji - Murasaki Shikibu (which might wind up being my choice)
 

Date Posted: 11/28/2009 4:47 PM ET
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also, The Odyssey, The Iliad by Homer, The Metamorphoses by Ovid, Beowulf, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer

Date Posted: 11/28/2009 4:49 PM ET
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This category is a good excuse to finally try any of Shakespeare's works even though they're plays in English but, by gum, as a beginner I need the dumbed down translation (LOL), Beowulf, Utopia (as mentioned), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

I want to give Moll Flanders a go as well as Tom Jones.



Last Edited on: 11/29/09 12:49 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/28/2009 4:53 PM ET
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I want to read Tom Jones also.  This is the category where I keep switching what I want to read.

Date Posted: 11/28/2009 10:19 PM ET
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Some other interesting titles available are

  • The History of My Life by Casanova
  • Les Liasons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DeFoe
Date Posted: 11/29/2009 12:29 PM ET
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If I were doing the reread from school category I would do The Odyssey--I remember loving it the first time around.

Date Posted: 11/29/2009 4:34 PM ET
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also, The Odyssey, The Iliad by Homer, The Metamorphoses by Ovid, Beowulf, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer

These are also great picks for the epics category.  



Last Edited on: 11/29/09 5:17 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Subject:
Date Posted: 11/30/2009 6:44 PM ET
Member Since: 10/28/2009
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Oooh, great stuff here! Another good one is A Journal of the Plague Year, also by Defoe. Great stuff if you're into disaster novels. Come to think of it, it could also qualify for the historical category (written in 1722, set in the London outbreak of 1665).

Now to see if I can make it out of the thread without changing my mind about my own choice... again.

Date Posted: 11/30/2009 6:48 PM ET
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Journal of the Plague Year is great.  Also Roxana by Defoe is worth reading, though not as wonderful as Moll Flanders IMO.

ETA - I hated Gulliver's Travels when I read it in college.  I've always thought you were either a Swift person or a Defoe person.  I might use it for my "Read in HS or College" entry as I think, 20 years later, I should maybe give it another shot.



Last Edited on: 11/30/09 6:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/30/2009 8:47 PM ET
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I understand that there may be flexibility regarding what is an epic, what is historical fiction, etc. However, if this one is a pre-19th century novel, about 65% of what I see suggested above are simply not novels.

Date Posted: 11/30/2009 8:49 PM ET
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I think reading it as pre-19th century work if someone wishes is fine.

Date Posted: 11/30/2009 9:27 PM ET
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To add to the above, there is some disagreement among those whose trade is Literature, English and otherwise. I have an Encyclopedia of Literature published by Miriam Webster that says the first European work that qualifies is Don Quixote (1605-15). Samuel Richardson universally gets the nod for first English novel with Pamela (1740). [chicky lit of its time; subtitled Virtue Rewarded]. Henry Fielding parodied it with Joseph Andrews in 1742. Then he did Tom Jones, universally regarded as in the top ten British novels all-time. The cat orginally known as Daniel Foe evokes very little agreement among literary historians. One of these, not an entirely unfriendly one, says that his plots "are not often formally coherent." And, "Defoe's narratives are marked by an episodic and apparently arbitrary narrative arrangement." Later in the 18th century, a big bunch of mostly ladies wrote what are called "sentimantal nmovels" [early chick lit at its worst]. Jonathan Swift wrote nothing regarded as a novel.

Date Posted: 11/30/2009 9:33 PM ET
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I don't disagree with caviglia's last post at all. I sure would seriously entertain anyone's suggestion for "horror or scary sci-fi." I thought something titled In The Days of The Comet by H.G. Wells would fill the bill, but what do I get -- a polemic denouncing British social structure, government, and royalty. I would particularly like something different from the three or four usually mentioned.

Date Posted: 11/30/2009 9:50 PM ET
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Samuel Richardson universally gets the nod for first English novel with Pamela (1740). [chicky lit of its time; subtitled Virtue Rewarded]

Aside from those (like me) who disagree utterly and believe Defoe gets the nod with the publication of Robinson Crusoe in 1719 (and his subsequent works many of which predate Pamela).  Though arguments could (and have) been made in favor of Behn's Oroonoko Pamela is far from universally agreed upon. 

ETA - There are some good suggestions for horror in the original discussion thread as I was having difficulty coming up with anything I hadn't read.  Including:

  • The Phantom Ship by Frederick Merryatt
  • Varney the Vampire
  • The Marquise of O


Last Edited on: 11/30/09 10:01 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/1/2009 6:27 PM ET
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 Okay, I have another contender for the earliest literary work that could be called a novel.   My old reader's encyclopedia says that Murasaki Shikibu, a Japanese writer who lived in the 11th century, was "the author of a great novel, translated into English by Arthur Waley as Genji Monagati, or The Tale of Genji (2 vols., 1935) 

It also says that Don Quixote de la Mancha is "a satirical novel by Cervantes, published at Madrid, Spain, Part I, 1605; Part II, 1615."  Some people believe that the author meant his novel to be a satire on the exaggerated chivalric romances of his time.  And others see it as an ironic story of an idealist frustrated and mocked in a materialistic world, a forerunner of Voltaire's Candide.  (My favorite line from the stage version, Mand of La Mancha, is about how Don Q. "saw the world not as it is, but as it should be." 

I vote that the category be "literary work" rather than "novel."    It seems to me that genres were not 'fixed' for a LONG time, and also, nowadays, the 'genres' seem to be proliferating like crazy.   We're getting odd things such as "dramatizations" of  actual events that ring in fictional elements, and books such as Capote's In Cold Blood, and "sequels and 'prequels'" etc. based on classics,  such as Ahab's Wife, by Sara Jeter Naslund!



Last Edited on: 12/1/09 6:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/1/2009 7:07 PM ET
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On Gulliver's Travels:

"Its fascination seems inexhaustible. If I had to make a list of six books which were to be preserved when all others were destroyed, I would certainly put Gulliver's Travels among them."    ~~George Orwell, 1946

I would be interested to learn the other five books. 

Date Posted: 12/1/2009 9:55 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2009
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 'vote that the category be "literary work" rather than "novel."    It seems to me that genres were not 'fixed' for a LONG time..'

"Literary work" seems appropriate and would include various types of works prior to the 19th century that are fiction based.  

 

"-suggestion for "horror or scary sci-fi"

Suggestions for horror:

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka



Last Edited on: 12/2/09 3:59 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/1/2009 11:09 PM ET
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All English LIterature scholars I have ever known, read, or heard of, regard having a recognizable plot structure as one essential criteria of a novel. Here is how one says it. "Considered asawork of art, a piece of fictioncannot be regarded as a novel unless it has unity of structure. ....not only the drama but also the epic had achieved structural unity long before, and from Arisstotle onward the critics had talkedabout conflict, suspense, and climax. When the writers of fiction became aware of these principles they ceased to string together picaresque adventures and began to build the vast and complex fabric of the novel with architectural proportions." (Lionel Stephenson, The English Novel, 8). I disagreed with more than one professor, but my personal opinions or critical judgments never seemed to affect matters that the literary establishment had long agreed on. So, perhaps, I should have said something to the effect that professional English Lit scholars or whatever you want to call them (keep it clean now, show them a little respect) universally agree on ...
 

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 12/9/2009 5:37 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
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TomeTrader and Caviglia,

I have been wanting to read Tom Jones also. So I picked it as my pre-19th century book.

Subject: re "an abridged, unexpurgated edition"
Date Posted: 12/9/2009 9:26 PM ET
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Thinking about Tom Jones, by Henry Fielding, made me recall an old joke about the British publisher's instructions to an editor who was  given the assignment to prepare an "abridged, unexpurgated edition" of a novel, for American readers.  In response to his query, the publisher explained . . . ."Just leave out all the boring bits, and keep in all the dirty bits."

I dug  my old copy of Tom out of the slew of books in the garage.   It's one of the "W. Somerset  Maugham Presents" series.  It was one of a series Mr. Maugham edited and condensed "in the  belief that the classics would be more widely read if they were not bogged down by the lengthy and wearisome passages originally written when authors were paid by the word."

That, in turn, led me to recollect my earliest days newspapering, when one of the tasks of a reporter was to prepare the "huckleberry" for print (which, of course, was the old "hot lead" process).  "Huckleberry" was the copy sent in by the correspondents in the tiny satellite towns around the city with the daily newspaper (or, in some cases, newspapers).  Such stringers were paid by the word.   Seems like ancient history now . . .