Discussion Forums - Classic Literature

Topic: What is the best classic you've read during 2014?

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: What is the best classic you've read during 2014?
Date Posted: 12/5/2014 10:09 AM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 551
Back To Top

I'm happy to say my favorite class this year was Dr. Zhivago. I'd tried reading it decades ago, but just couldn't get into it.

I thoroughly enjoyed it this time around. (Aging is good for so many things.)

In addition, I watched the movie (which I hadn't been that impressed with--again, decades ago). SPECTACULAR!

What books have brought positive reactions from you classic enthusiasts?

                                                                                                                   Rose

Date Posted: 12/5/2014 11:22 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 2,997
Back To Top

sorry I hit the wrong button.



Last Edited on: 12/5/14 11:23 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/5/2014 5:21 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2009
Posts: 611
Back To Top

I think the best classic I've read this year was And Quiet Flows the Don (1934) by Mikhail Sholokhov. I've read the majority of English Lit. classics, so I have to look further afield for classics I haven't read...and found this one. I was pleasantly surprised. Interesting that you mentioned Dr. Zhivago, Obssessed R., because Sholokhov's novel brought Pasternak's to mind for me. I loved that one...and the movie has always been a favorite.

Date Posted: 12/5/2014 11:33 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
Back To Top

That would be Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front.   I read it on the occasion of the centennial of the start of that ghastly World War One.

Date Posted: 12/6/2014 1:45 AM ET
Member Since: 10/4/2010
Posts: 249
Back To Top

Every Man Dies Alone by Fallada: based on actual events, a really interesting look at various, very different characters whose lives are intertwined during the Holocaust, and even more impressive because Fallada wrote critically of the Nazi regime at that time, in spite of the personal risk. It's different from other stories I've read that are set during in same period because it focuses on working class Germans.



Last Edited on: 12/6/14 1:46 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/6/2014 6:32 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 2,997
Back To Top

Every Man Dies Alone by Fallada

I just read this book this year also. It was interesting to me to see how the nazi mentality altered the way German society functioned. A similar book that gives a sort of inside view of Germany during the war is A Time to Love and a Time to Die by Erich Maria Remarque.

Date Posted: 12/6/2014 7:55 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
Posts: 5,254
Back To Top

I've got to say Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.  A friend bugged me forever to read it, and I finally caved, and I absolutely couldn't put it down.  The characters were vivid, the story so engrossing, it was filled with mystery and creepiness. Told in the first person (which I love), I could feel the narrator's every ounce of pain, frustration and insecurity.  ***** Five stars!!

 

Date Posted: 12/6/2014 8:42 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 2,997
Back To Top

I've never read Rebecca. I saw the Olivier movie once a long time ago. I've read that DuMaurier was a big fan of Jane Eyre and apparently modelled Rebecca on Jane Eyre. I will probably try to read Rebecca one of these days.



Last Edited on: 12/6/14 8:43 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/6/2014 12:02 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 551
Back To Top

Oh, Rebecca is a dazzling book!

                                    Rose

Date Posted: 12/6/2014 5:07 PM ET
Member Since: 5/15/2010
Posts: 143
Back To Top

I would have to say Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End ( a quartet of novels that came out in the 1920s). Like Bonnie, I wanted to read some WWI fiction (and hope to contine doing so in 2015) Plus, I wanted to watch the Tom Stoppard production of Parade's End that had run as a mini series, because it stars Benedict Cumberbatch, and I think he's fabulous. And I have to say that reading Parade's End really helped me appreciate the mini series. It's  hard to describe just how astonishing this work is. It's not an easy read, but staying with Ford is so worth it. I found myself going to sleep at night thinking about the characters and waking up still puzzling over them, analyzing this train wreck of a marriage, thinking about the psychological warfare Sylvia exacts on her husband, Christopher, juxtaposed with the very real warfare poor Christopher endures in the trenches.

If I had to summarize the story I'd describe it as one in which modernity plays itself out through the lives of a small cast of characters. But it's so much more than that. Ford was a brilliant stylist, and a modernist, like Joyce and Woolf, but no longer read as much as J and W. Why that is, I cannot say, but I can say that it was a highlight of my reading and viewing year. Five stars.

Janet E.

Date Posted: 12/7/2014 9:30 AM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2006
Posts: 314
Back To Top

RE Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End. Lately I've been relentlessly culling books, figuring that I can go to the library if I want to re-read something. But I just could not part with the four ragged paperbacks of this quartet. They get better with re-reading, too, like The Good Soldier.

For Best Classic of 2015 it would be a toss-up between Look Homeward Angel and A Tale of Two Cities. Both I approached with trepidation, worried I would not be up to them. But their readability surprised me -- I could not put them down, staying put for hours at a time, which is not usual for me. Both Wolfe and Dickens were gushers -- words words words -- but I never wished an editor on them. Finally, in both, the stories were so great, so compelling, though usually "coming of age" novels don't do much for me and Dickens, with his use of coincidences and impersonations as plot devices, calls for a lot of allowances.



Last Edited on: 12/8/14 2:03 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/7/2014 10:10 AM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 551
Back To Top

Matt, I read Maxwell Perkins' biography last year. He was Thomas Wolfe's editor for a while. It was said Wolfe's first draft of Look Homeward Angel was overwhelmingly huge (half a million words maybe? I can't recall). Though it was a torment to Wolfe, Perkins managed to scale it way back--and it was still too long!

But I agree--what a wonderful book. In fact, it's one of the books I'm working on now.

                                                                                                                      Rose

P.S. I'm thinking maybe the huge draft was of You Can't Go Home Again. Oh well, I don't think Wolfe deprived himself of full expression!



Last Edited on: 12/7/14 10:10 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/7/2014 5:47 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2009
Posts: 611
Back To Top

I just finished Michener's  Tales of the South Pacific. It was wonderful, and really brought WWII in the Pacific alive for me. Strange I should have finished it on Pearl Harbor day! I am glad the book won the Pulitzer.  Speaking of Look Homeward Angel, another book I loved! I was very moved by Eugene's brother Ben's death. Ben was the personification of loneliness.

Date Posted: 12/7/2014 6:25 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 2,997
Back To Top

what was the bio of Perkins you read? Was it a good one? I might try for that myself. I have an interesting book of Perkins' letters that I have read twice. Editor to author The letters of Maxwell E Perkins.

Date Posted: 12/7/2014 7:30 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 551
Back To Top

I read Max Perkins/Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg. I'd gotten it from the library (my usual method), but it was so excellent I had to buy a copy for myself.

I need to check out the book of letters you mentioned!

                                                                                                                 Rose

Date Posted: 12/7/2014 7:39 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 2,997
Back To Top

ah Berg. I read his bio of Lindbergh. a real page turner most of the way. Of course Berg wrote the book about Lindbergh before the revelations about L's other German family came out. I guess the book will have to be edited. smiley

Date Posted: 12/14/2014 9:48 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
Back To Top

I agree with Stephanie. I also read "Rebecca" this year and loved it. Love it so much I read two more of DuMarier's works "Jamaica Inn" (Meh, okay) and "My Cousin, Rachel" (awesome). 

 

But I also loved The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters. 

Date Posted: 12/31/2014 3:15 PM ET
Member Since: 10/4/2010
Posts: 249
Back To Top


Last Edited on: 12/31/14 3:16 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Favorite 2014 Classic
Date Posted: 1/3/2015 6:20 PM ET
Member Since: 11/15/2011
Posts: 56
Back To Top

My favorite was Giants in the Earth by O. E. Roelvaag.  This book brings to life the incredible courage of the plains pioneers who endured harsh weather, locusts, loneliness, and depression.  I had a passing knowledge of these hard times, but this book mined the depths of each character's soul giving me a sense of being there.  That is quite a feat for any author, but consider the fact that this book was originally written in Norwegian and translated into English.  The prose is gorgeous, not what you might expect in a translation.

I have recommended this book to a number of people.  I was also delighted to learn that there are two sequels which I plan on reading in 2015: Peder Victorious and Their Fathers God.

Mary

Date Posted: 1/6/2015 12:02 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 2,966
Back To Top

I, too, loved Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier but none of the reads I chose for this year rated five stars in my mind.  Also read Giants in the Earth and Peder Victorious.  I have to say that the former was the best read for me.  Since I read classics for other challenges at times I have to mention one I totally enjoyed this year:   One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.  I guess I stayed away from this author because I thought it would a really difficult read.  Was I wrong!  I was amazed and recommend it highly.  



Last Edited on: 1/6/15 12:07 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/8/2015 7:20 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
Back To Top

REK, I've got One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich on request at my library. Thank for the rec.

 

Mary, Giants in the Earth is a favorite of mine, but the sequel I tried twice to read and just could get into it. I was a bit upset about it because I had a hard time finding a copy. Had to special order it, even. Oh well.