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Topic: Would You Rather Game: Classic Lit Edition

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Subject: Would You Rather Game: Classic Lit Edition
Date Posted: 1/13/2015 9:35 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Would you rather read: 

Moby Dick

or 

Crime and Punishment

 

You can't say neither, but you can say both.

I thank ye for playing. You're helping me decide which to fill in the "Classic I've meant to read" slot in the 2015 Classic Lit Challenge. 



Last Edited on: 1/13/15 9:38 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/13/2015 9:47 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
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I have read both, and I prefer Moby Dick.

                                           Rose

Date Posted: 1/14/2015 3:46 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
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I am oriented toward American lit so I would say Moby Dick. a word of caution though. It took me two readings of Moby Dick to get a better appreciation of it. Go slow and take your time.

Date Posted: 1/14/2015 5:16 AM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2006
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I've read Moby Dick and advise skimming the reportage about the ins and outs of whaling. It is well worth reading in terms of thinking of Life's Big Issues and the story. I found it funnier than I expected.

As for Fyodor D.'s Crime and Punishment my negative review is at this link.

Date Posted: 1/14/2015 3:25 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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Matt B., Did you come at C & P from a 20th century American stance?    Don't you think a reader has a kind of responsibility to remember WHERE and WHEN the story is set, and what the people of that time and place were like, psychologically and/or philosophically?   Am I hopelessly "behind the times" in thinking this, and that this kind of "time travel" should set in when one reads an "old" story?

Raskolnikov was a Russian, a young man, a student, interested in The Law, who couldn't help his hunger (for food, and various and sundry comforts, living in a society where every kopeck was lusted after, and generosity was regarded as a foolish weakness.   Sure, the story, which came out in 1866, may be 'dated', now, but it's still a great tale of a guilty mind and a tormented conscience in a soul that was at once good and evil.

Tome:  Lemme make you a deal.   You don't have to read C&P, 472 pages long in the Constance Garnett translation.  I'll lend you a "POCKET CLASSIC"  with the whole story in 55 small pages, with pictures on every page (comic book-style, but small format, like pocket books of yesteryear).  It was published in 1984 and is one of a series put out by Academic Industries, Inc.



Last Edited on: 1/14/15 3:32 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 1/14/2015 5:33 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Tome:  Lemme make you a deal.   You don't have to read C&P, 472 pages long in the Constance Garnett translation.  I'll lend you a "POCKET CLASSIC"  with the whole story in 55 small pages, with pictures on every page (comic book-style, but small format, like pocket books of yesteryear).  It was published in 1984 and is one of a series put out by Academic Industries, Inc.

 

Please, no! Comic book format ain't my bag.

I may have the attention span of a gnat but I am trying trying to combat it, I tell you. I gotta learn to take my time and slow read instead complaining that my literature isn't a Stephen King 80mph plot.

 

 



Last Edited on: 1/14/15 5:34 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/15/2015 2:46 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2007
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Tome, I just finished Crime and Punishment last year.  It took me 40 years to finish, but I had kept the Garnett translation in a 60 cent Dell paperback I bought as a teenager, and every few years would try it again.  Especially after my English major daughter said it was terrific.

Now, I did not read that original paperback.  The print shrank over the years!  I first acquired the Norton Coulson version here and kept it for the commentary. Next, I bought the Kindle  ebook of the 1993 Pevear and Volokhonsky translation, and that's the one I finished.  (It was $3.16.)

I find Russian lit to depend entirely on the translation, but that's a whole nuther discussion.  I just personally find Dostoevsky a clunky writer, no matter what. Two things got me through it.  One,  I am of an age with the pawnbroker.  Now, I did not see her as an evil miser, but as an older woman whose furnishings were not old and shabby, but represented a lifetime of care. Also, her suspicious nature was born of experience in dealing with her patrons and was justifiably prudent.  The crime is indeed a crime.

Next, it truly has multiple layers.  The commentary helped in understanding the political situation in 1865 Russia.  Everybody knows the moral discussion.  What also surprised me was there is a good old fashioned police mystery.  How is the detective going to catch Rodya? 

So, I was glad I read it.  I don't think rereading it would take 40 years.

On the other hand, my husband learned a lot about 19th century whaling in Moby Dick!

Date Posted: 1/15/2015 11:23 PM ET
Member Since: 11/15/2011
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I plowed through Crime and Punishment years ago and would not consider reading it again, so I guess I have to go with Moby Dick although I don't think I'll be reading it any time soon.  I prefer reading British classics for the most part.

Subject: ,
Date Posted: 1/15/2015 11:35 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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Good luck, Tome.   But, despite what you say about "comic book format", the 1934 edition of Mrs. Shelley's Frankenstein, with those famous illustrations by Lynn Ward, is a wonderful way to read that classic.

Date Posted: 1/16/2015 10:29 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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Do you mean this, Bonnie? 

Lynd Ward's woodcut illustrations make it very tempting to reread Frankenstein.

Date Posted: 1/22/2015 4:13 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
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If you should happen to read Crime and Punishment (which I found enjoyable) and like it, you might also like The Idiot. There is an interesting premise equating goodness with a lack of guile and whether such a person can survive in the world.

Date Posted: 1/22/2015 7:56 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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"like The Idiot" ???   That strikes me as the wrong word to use, about that book about poor, rich Prince Myushin and the circle of so-called friends that gravitate around him upon his return to Russia.   I had a whole lot of ambiguous feelings about the prince when I read it.   And some more 'mixed feelings' about the other characters around him.   In my family, we've had a couple of members who were the kind of people who wanted to believe the 'best' about everyone they met.  (One of them really got taken by his 'partner' in business.)  On the other hand, when someone shows that he/she has a high opinion of the 'other' person, it can bring out the best in that other, so   . . . .

The only way I can see for Laura to figure out her take on the premise ("goodness amounts to a lamentable innocence of the 'ways of the world' ") would be for her to read it, unsettling though it is.

Date Posted: 1/22/2015 10:15 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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The only way I can see for Laura to figure out her take on the premise ("goodness amounts to a lamentable innocence of the 'ways of the world' ") would be for her to read it, unsettling though it is.

 

Kind of the same premise in Tess of D'urberville?  I was introduced to the concept of willful innocence through Tess. 

Date Posted: 1/23/2015 7:07 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
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ah, Tess. That was the first book by Hardy that I read. I saw the movie first. In 1979 the film was directed by Roman Polanski and starred Natassha Kinski. very beautiful woman. I liked the book so I decided to read one book by Hardy each summer for the next 5 years. got tired of him after the 5th one. I think my favorite was The Mayor of Casterbridge.

Date Posted: 1/24/2015 4:28 PM ET
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Charles, I have Far from the Maddening Crowd on my Classic Lit Reading Challenge 2015. A new movie is coming out this year. I want to read the book and then see the film. 

 

As for Tess, I read the book and found the film on youtube.com. This is a more recent  2008 version, though. The cinematography is stunning.

Date Posted: 1/24/2015 5:02 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
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Far From the Madding Crowd is pretty good. I enjoyed it. If you have any feminist sensibilities you may not like it. Women are referred to as 'the weaker' and there is nothing they can do about it. I guess you could say that reflects the age. Just for fun you might see if you can find a copy of Gray's Elegy. I think the actual title is something like Lines composed in a country churchyard. The title Far From the Madding Crowd comes from that poem. Gray's Elegy is sort of a touchstone in English lit. It's a good poem to be familiar with as bits and pieces of it appear in various places from time to time. You might say that Hardy's book is peopled by the simple folk Gray talks about in his poem.

Date Posted: 1/24/2015 5:31 PM ET
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I don't think Bathsheba Everdene was  "the weaker", although those three men, all of them flawed, sure made her life damned difficult.

It's just that it was "a man's world" back then, in the time when and place where this novel was set.

P.S.  Now, in 2015 A.D., the President of the United States of America, in the State of the Union address, included a comment about how women still do not receive equal pay with men when performing the same work.   Plus ça change, plus c'est la meme chose.



Last Edited on: 1/24/15 5:43 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/25/2015 6:19 AM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2006
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Re "willful innocence"

Reading Ben Jonson's Volpone for this challenge and when Celia is being tempted into adultery by Volpone, Celia says,

Good sir, these things might move a mind affected
     With such delights; but I, whose innocence
     Is all I can think wealthy, or worth th' enjoying,
     And which, once lost, I have nought to lose beyond it,
     Cannot be taken with these sensual baits:
     If you have conscience— 

For Celia, if she loses her innocence (spiritual and religious wealth, or striving for it), she has lost everything.

 

Date Posted: 1/25/2015 5:52 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Matt B.,  That's interesting....... that feeling of Celia's makes her seem very much a 'kindred spirit  with Prince Myushin.

I wonder if the reason Dostoyevsky posited a sojourn abroad (outside Russia) for Prince M. ostensibly for his physical health, before he returned to Russia upon falling into an inheritance, was to account for the young man's having been taught high morals there, in somewhat a parallel way to the way parents sent their daughters away to convents, in their adolescent years, to ensure their 'purity'?



Last Edited on: 1/25/15 6:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 1/25/2015 6:49 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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Matt B.  :  Poor Celia!   Back when she lived, great beauty was a real curse for a woman.  Thinking about her made me remember one of the most famous bits of verse in the Spanish language---a redondilla entitled Contra la Injusticias de los Hombres al Hablar de las Mujeres, by Sor (Sister)) Juana Inés de la Cruz, who lived from1651-1695.  (Against the Injustices of Men (When) Speaking of Women)

     Sor Juana had the misfortune of having great beauty in addition to a brilliant mind.  Trouble was, in that time, the only two careers open to females were marriage or the convent.  Furthermore, a beauty would be pressed into the decision early, in her teens.  Poor Juana---she loved books and desired to study in quietude.  Well, she opted for the convent (partly to get access to books), and found that by so doing she caused a flock of male admirers/would-be suitors to complain of the "waste" of such beauty.  The didn't give a rap about her marvelous scholar's mind and scientific curiosity which she exercised for 27 years amongst a library of 4,000 books and her musical and mathematical instruments.

     Sigh,  an ardent feminist from the 17th century, just imagine.



Last Edited on: 1/25/15 6:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 3