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Thread: My classic novel read for 2017 is . . .

  1. #1
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    My classic novel read for 2017 is . . .

    . . . I don't know yet. Many years ago I established a personal habit of reading at least one "classic" novel, that criterion being defined as anything from an author who died before my birth (which was a long time ago). Most years I do several such, and those have included works by Dickens, Melville, Wilkie Collins, J.S. LeFanu, Mary Shelley, Joseph Conrad, Edith Wharton, Alexandre Dumas, among others.

    I'm now contemplating one for this year, but am floundering a bit. I'd like to read something by somebody I've not read before. So . . . suggestions?

    caw
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  2. #2
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    What about Vilette, by that Bronte woman (I can never remember which one, I'm embarrassed to say). It's not widely read and while it's flawed, it's interesting. Or Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne. Complex and odd and way ahead of its time.

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  4. #4
    Ideas bounce around in my head Jason's Avatar
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    I just finished Frankenstein last month as one of the classic novels I wanted to read in my annual project. I may be biased, but based on Frankenstein, I'd recommend avoiding Shelley, and going with someone else.

    My suggestion would be another author on my bucket list of reads that I've not broached yet since college: Aldous Huxley, specifically Brave New World...
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  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    Aw, I liked Frankenstein. I did this for a bit too, not by year really, just at some point after college I realized I'd not read a bunch of classic novels, and my h.s. had assigned a fair balance of weird shit (I will never understand the point of making us read Tess of the D'Urburvilles), so I started reading like Dickens, Shelley, etc.

    Maybe we could start a classics book club. I haven't read one in a while, and always think I should, but get distracted by a new shiny.

  6. #6
    Ideas bounce around in my head Jason's Avatar
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    Are there clubs on AW? Hmmm, gotta go check, but fwiw, I'd join that if it was like a BOTM kinda thing...though monthly would be prolly setting the bar too high for many, so perhaps a Book of the Quarter Club? BOTQ? LOL

    ETA:
    Looks like that could happen through a Group:

    http://absolutewrite.com/forums/group.php?cat=2

    There's 83 pages at 10/page so one may already exist...anyone know of a pre-existing one so we don't re-create the wheel?
    Last edited by Jason; 02-28-2017 at 08:15 PM.
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  7. #7
    Moderator AW Moderator Sophia's Avatar
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    You're very welcome to start a series of "Classic Book of the Month/Quarter" threads here in Bookclub. Maybe with a separate thread to discuss any admin issues relating to running it, so as not to clutter the book discussion.

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW Laurasaurus's Avatar
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    I'm trying to read more classics this year too. I just read HG Wells's The Island of Dr Moreau.
    Luckily I've never seen the Marlon Brando film version, so I was able to enjoy it unblemished.
    I'm definitely planning on reading more of his books.
    Contemporary novel Northwest of Normal out now

  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW Jan74's Avatar
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    I'm reading Jane Eyre so far I'm liking it. I loved A tree grows in Brooklyn it's a coming of age novel very well written and a fast read.
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  10. #10
    Ideas bounce around in my head Jason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sophia View Post
    You're very welcome to start a series of "Classic Book of the Month/Quarter" threads here in Bookclub. Maybe with a separate thread to discuss any admin issues relating to running it, so as not to clutter the book discussion.
    Done, tks for the idea - never occurred to me to start that sort of thing. Apologies for detracting blacbird's thread - continue with reading suggestions here (caw)
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  11. #11
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    For Old Hack: I've actually considered Villette (by Charlotte). Might do that.

    For cornflake: T.S. Eliot never wrote a novel, to my knowledge.

    I've also been thinking about Henry James. I have a big library of cheap paperbacks, some going back to the 1960s, and that includes essentially all of Henry James's novels and many more.

    caw
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  12. #12
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    Update: Last night I started Villette. Thanks for the comments.

    caw
    Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.

    -- Terry Pratchett

  13. #13
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    I hope you enjoy it, blac. I've not read it for years and will be interested to hear what you think.

  14. #14
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    Well into Villette now, and find it satisfactory. Bronte is a strong writer, and much less prolix than is the reputation of many Victorian novelists. So far, the story is very episodic, but the episodes are good and engaging. Reminds me some of E. Montgomery's work in that regard. A second plus is that je parle le français un peu, and as the novel takes place mostly in France, there is a fair amount of French dialogue.

    caw
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    If this hot drought-stricken summer in South Africa ever ends, we'll be going into winter and in winter I do big slow reads in front of the fire at night. Last year I reread both the Iliad and Odyssey by Homer (helped by commentaries and great translations, as well as Alice Oswald's poignant Memorial). The year before I was part of an online reading group doing The Lusiads by Camões.

    This year I'm going back to Henry James. The Aspern Papers and then What Maisie Knew. The later James is so diffuse and opaque, it is hard to figure out what is happening (The Golden Bowl defeated me), but some extraordinary passages.

  16. #16
    Tears of Ink tiddlywinks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    What about Vilette, by that Bronte woman (I can never remember which one, I'm embarrassed to say). It's not widely read and while it's flawed, it's interesting. Or Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne. Complex and odd and way ahead of its time.
    Yes! I second Villette. That is actually my favorite novel, and I reread it almost every year.

    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    Well into Villette now, and find it satisfactory. Bronte is a strong writer, and much less prolix than is the reputation of many Victorian novelists. So far, the story is very episodic, but the episodes are good and engaging. Reminds me some of E. Montgomery's work in that regard. A second plus is that je parle le français un peu, and as the novel takes place mostly in France, there is a fair amount of French dialogue.

    caw
    Will be interested to hear what you think when you're done, blac. And now I'm getting a hankering to get to my own re-read of it again...

    Once you are done, if you are looking for more recommendations, what about Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra? Or Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. (I seem to be on a philosophical bent here with my recs tonight.)

    I have North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell on my "to be read" docket this year.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiddlywinks View Post
    Yes! I second Villette. That is actually my favorite novel, and I reread it almost every year.



    Will be interested to hear what you think when you're done, blac. And now I'm getting a hankering to get to my own re-read of it again...

    Once you are done, if you are looking for more recommendations, what about Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra? Or Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. (I seem to be on a philosophical bent here with my recs tonight.)

    I have North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell on my "to be read" docket this year.
    I've read Siddhartha. Hated it. I'm about 3/4 through Villette, enjoying it sufficiently. It's very episodic, but the writing is excellent, the characters vivid and well-handled. I might have to try something by Gaskell. I own several of hers, but haven't read 'em (I'm a compulsive bookbuyer).

    caw
    Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.

    -- Terry Pratchett

  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW Zoe R's Avatar
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    Does A Handmaid's Tale count? I just read it when I heard about the series...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoe R View Post
    Does A Handmaid's Tale count? I just read it when I heard about the series...
    Depends on your own definition of "classic," I guess. Margaret Atwood is still alive and very much kicking.
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  20. #20
    Write. Write. Writey Write Write. mrsmig's Avatar
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    I just added Villette to my Kindle. Looking forward to reading it after I finish Peyton Place (which I guess one could consider a classic of sorts).
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  21. #21
    Techno-Cathar Perfect Diana Hignutt's Avatar
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    There's always Conrad's Heart of Darkness or perhaps Hesse's Beneath the Wheel? Just a couple of ideas.
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  22. #22
    Write. Write. Writey Write Write. mrsmig's Avatar
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    I finished Villette, and have to say I wasn't crazy about it. Too many long diatribes about religion, many with a strong anti-Catholic bent. I know Bronte's writing is a product of both her era and her own life, but the same themes and many of the same plot devices were handled more deftly in Jane Eyre.
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  23. #23
    I aim to misbehave Myrealana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CBJason View Post
    My suggestion would be another author on my bucket list of reads that I've not broached yet since college: Aldous Huxley, specifically Brave New World...
    We just did BNW and 1984 for my monthly book club.

    Our conclusion was that while both are classics with commentary on societal trends and condemnations of collectivism and totalitarianism, 1984 is the better book that sticks with you longer.

    Anyway, I picked up a copy of Lolita at my local soon-to-be-closed used bookstore as my next read. People have told me over and over again what a master Nabokov was. Time for me to find out for myself.
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    Writer Beware's Faithful Igor Richard White's Avatar
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    Along with reading Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes (for my thesis), I hope to finish Alan and She by H. Rider Haggard and The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emma Orczy this year.

    I've read an abridged version of Pimpernel in the old "Reader's Digest Best-Loved Books" series, but never the entire thing. As a fantasy writer, I find this inexcusable. *sigh*

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    Shiny new cover! AW Moderator Calla Lily's Avatar
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    I've read the entire Pimpernel series. The first is still the best but all are enjoyable.

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