Weekly Geeks 2009-03: The Classics

There are four parts to this installment of Weekly Geeks.

Part the first:

How do you feel about classic literature? Are you intimidated by it? Love it? Not sure because you never actually tried it? Don't get why anyone reads anything else? Which classics, if any, have you truly loved? Which would you recommend for someone who has very little experience reading older books? Go all out, sell us on it!

I feel pretty inadequate about classic lit, considering I have a BA in English. I've read very little Shakespeare; a few Dickens; only one Jane Austen so far; no Balzac, Byron, Blake or Burns. I don't feel intimidated by it anymore, but I can't say it's my favorite genre. I usually read it because I think I should, not because I enjoy it. To me it's a bit like learning music theory and getting a good base of classical music before journeying off into other styles.

Last year I read War and Peace and Anna Karenina. I enjoyed the latter immensely and had a love/hate relationship with the former. I'm really glad I read them and it got me over feeling intimidated. I also learned a lot. I'm planning to read more Russian lit in the next year.

Recommendations for Classics 101? Dickens - David Copperfield or Great Expectations; Twain - Huck Finn; Willa Cather - My Antonia; Bronte, C - Jane Eyre; Homer - The Odyssey.

Part the second:

A challenge, should you choose to accept it: Read at least one chapter of a classic novel, preferably by an author you're not familiar with.

I was going to read a bit of Madame Bovary but it's after 1 a.m. and I think I'll take a pass on that for now. Perhaps I'll come back later with a mini-review.

Part the third:

Let's say you're vacationing with your dear cousin Myrtle, and she forgot to bring a book. The two of you venture into the hip independent bookstore around the corner, where she primly announces that she only reads classic literature. If you don't find her a book, she'll never let you get any reading done! What contemporary book/s with classic appeal would you pull off the shelf for her?

I would argue that there are classics younger than 100 years: anything Steinbeck; To Kill a Mockingbird, Beloved.

But let's say this bookstore only carries books published in the last 25 years. "Cousin Myrtle, I think you'd like The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. Yes, it's about South America, it's translated from OK, what about one of these?" (I show her The Poisonwood Bible and A Prayer for Owen Meany, hoping the religious references will appease her). "Here's one - The Hours. It's based on Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, sort of a re-telling. Yes? Great, I think you'll love it. And this one too - The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro." She'll be impressed by the English manners. (Now that cousin Myrtle is out of my hair, I'm going to curl up with The Handmaid's Tale, definitely a classic, but one Myrtle wouldn't appreciate.)

Part the fourth:

As you explore the other Weekly Geeks posts: Did any inspire you to want to read a book you've never read before—or reread one to give it another chance? Tell us all about it, including a link to the post or posts that sparked your interest. If you end up reading the book, be sure to include a link to your post about it in a future Weekly Geeks post!

Three blogs I visited mentioned Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray:
Stephanie at Confessions of a Bookaholic; Jackie at Literary Escapism and marineko at dreaming out loud. I've never read it. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one I keep thinking about reading and two of these bloggers mentioned it. So, I guess I know what two books will be going on my TBR pile!

Thanks to Ali for hosting Weekly Geeks this week. Great questions!


Andi said...

Great answers! I read Frankenstein a year or two ago and really enjoyed it. Much more than I expected as a matter of fact.

Anonymous said...

I think your sugs to Myrtle are excellent. And I've only seen the movie The Picture of Dorian Gray (and prob never realized it was a book! ha) but LOVED it. I should read it...

Dreamybee said...

I totally agree with you about The Poisonwood Bible and A Prayer for Owen Meany! The Hours is a good suggestion too. I couldn't think of any when I was doing my post!