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Thread: Classic Literature that you want to read

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW kaylim's Avatar
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    Classic Literature that you want to read

    To me, reading classic novels is like spinning a roulette wheel because oftentimes the age of the writing shows even if the piece is influential in other ways. Good examples of this for is A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

    But occasionally I'll read older works that I actually enjoy. For example, Robert Louis Stevenson's novels 'Kidnapped' and 'Treasure Island' I think are really good even though they were written a century ago.

    With all that said, here are a few classic works of lit that I want to get around to reading:

    Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky

    Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (I read an abridged version when I was a kid and liked it)

    For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

    Iron Heel by Jack London
    -----------------------------------------------------

    That's all I can think of at the top of my head. What are yours?

  2. #2
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    I read a lot of "classic" lit, and post a new thread here every year mentioning my one promised classic read. This year it was Villette, by Charlotte Brontė. Right now I'm reading The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, by B. Traven. I do like to read things by writers I haven't explored before; some I wind up really enjoying, others not so much, but I am always pleased by the effort.

    I do recommend For Whom the Bell Tolls very highly. I think it's Hemingway's best work.

    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

  3. #3
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    It's massive, but I want to get through Les Miserables eventually. I've heard it's gorgeous and well worth the read.

  4. #4
    The new me oneblindmouse's Avatar
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    I've just read Crome yellow, Aldous Huxley's debut novel, and although I like several of his other books, I was sadly underwhelmed by this one.

    "Strange Destinies" by Guillermo Rubio Arias-Paz, translated from the Spanish and out now on Amazon and the Endless Bookcase.

    Goodreads

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW Tazlima's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by s_nov View Post
    It's massive, but I want to get through Les Miserables eventually. I've heard it's gorgeous and well worth the read.
    It's absolutely worth the read. Right up there on my favorites list with "The Count of Monte Cristo."

    One caveat, though... make sure you find a good translation. Both of these titles have multiple decent-to-excellent translations, but I'll never forget when I went to re-read "Crime and Punishment," which I had thoroughly enjoyed the first time, only to find myself bogged down in a different translation that was so bad I could barely even follow the story, despite having read it before.
    "One of the hardest things to do, I think, is learn to trust your own creativity." - Ambrosia

  6. #6
    You'd better watch out Jaymz Connelly's Avatar
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    Dracula by Bram Stoker. I really enjoyed how a lot is left to the reader to imagine. (note- I'm not a fan of vampire stories but this - this was awesome)

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW DanielSTJ's Avatar
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    I want to read as many of the classics as possible. When in doubt, I decide on another one and eventually tack it off my list. Particularly, I want to tackle the works of the Romanticists and read as many classics as I can.

    I've read a lot of books so far-- but not nearly enough! If only I could live another hundred years or so and actually make some progress. LOL.
    Last edited by DanielSTJ; 09-04-2017 at 10:19 PM.
    Vivere militare est.

  8. #8
    cutsie-pie Curlz's Avatar
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    I want to read the Bible but keep losing patience with it

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by oneblindmouse View Post
    I've just read Crome yellow, Aldous Huxley's debut novel, and although I like several of his other books, I was sadly underwhelmed by this one.
    Crome Yellow was Huxley's first published novel. He improved as he went along with others. I particularly liked his last one, Island, which a lot of people did not think so highly of.

    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

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by s_nov View Post
    It's massive, but I want to get through Les Miserables eventually. I've heard it's gorgeous and well worth the read.
    If you want a really good and weirdly under-read Hugo classic, you might try The Man Who Laughs.

    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

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW Cobalt Jade's Avatar
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    I've got a sudden yen to re-read The Sound and the Fury. Anyone want to talk me into it? Or out of it?

  12. #12
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cobalt Jade View Post
    I've got a sudden yen to re-read The Sound and the Fury. Anyone want to talk me into it? Or out of it?
    Based on the few Faulkners I've read, I would be more likely to talk you out of it.

    One classic that should get more attention than it does is Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad. Twain's humor comes through strongly, and he satirizes the genre at times while sticking to it.

    I've wanted to read Dumas's Three Musketeers and the following books for years, but I just can't seem to get around to them.
    Join any time! Take the 2017 AW Reading Challenge. Pick 12 books from a list of topics and read/discuss with us throughout the year.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris P View Post
    Based on the few Faulkners I've read, I would be more likely to talk you out of it.
    I had the privilege, as an undergrad, to take a course in Faulkner from a leading Faulkner scholar at the time. He made a big point about Faulkner being an author you need to read in a certain, somewhat flexible, order, which is not anything near the order of his publication dates. Notably, he considered Sound and Fury and Absalom, Absalom!, two of Faulkner's most highly-regarded works, as probably the two which should be read last in the order. He was especially irritated at literature teachers who routinely tossed S&F at students as the one Faulkner to read.

    He had us start with the short story collection Go Down, Moses, then the novel The Unvanquished; he wanted to do the precursor novel Sartoris first, but it was out of print at the time. So those are the ones I'd recommend for somebody who has never read Faulkner. Followed by, in a general order:

    The Wild Palms*
    Sanctuary
    Light in August*
    Intruder in the Dust
    The Snopes Trilogy*: The Hamlet, The Town, The Mansion
    As I Lay Dying
    Absalom, Absalom!
    The Sound and the Fury
    The Reivers


    Personally, I am particularly fond of the first three mentioned, and the ones with * above. The last on the list we did not read in class, just because we didn't have time, but I put it there because it was Faulkner's final work, and reads like it was intended to be that finale. Faulkner died just a few weeks after its publication.

    My prof didn't think too highly of any of Faulkner's non-Mississippi books, so we didn't read any, and I never have.

    Faulkner is a challenge, but so are many other writers from Melville to Eco. Approached in a sensible way, Faulkner is an extremely rewarding author. There's a reason he won a Nobel Prize.

    caw
    Last edited by blacbird; 10-06-2017 at 10:19 PM.
    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

  14. #14
    ....... Harlequin's Avatar
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    I found As I Lay Dying unbearable, but perhaps I'd not given him enough of a chance. I really struggle with anything that has dialectal dialogue, though (and so skim over things like Joe in Wuthering Heights.)
    Happiness, is just a word to me
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  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW talktidy's Avatar
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    Dickens. I really should read Dickens. Particularly, since I am getting long in the tooth and need to crack on before I pop my clogs. Question is where to start.

  16. #16
    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by talktidy View Post
    Dickens. I really should read Dickens. Particularly, since I am getting long in the tooth and need to crack on before I pop my clogs. Question is where to start.
    Christmas Carol. No, really. Alternatively, I usually suggest new readers start with Great Expectations.

  17. #17
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    I haven't read a lot of Dickens, but a couple of years ago I decided to give one of his lesser-known big novels a go. I chose Little Dorrit, which concerns debtor's prisons. It has some fascinating characters, and I wound up thoroughly enjoying it.

    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 EmilyEmily's Avatar
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    I feel as if I SHOULD read more/all of Hemingway. I read The Sun Also Rises, The Old Man and the Sea, and A Moveable Feast, and after Feast I was just so angry and disgusted I found myself unable to start anything else by H. I hate his style, his subjects, the images and aspects of character he chooses to emphasize, and that horrible misogynistic machismo element; the cruelty and glorification of blood sport is off-putting as well. I know I would hate the author himself, if we should ever meet. (Yes, I try to separate my idea of the author as individual from his/her work, but in Hemingway's case, I just can't do it). Zelda was right about H.

    But I think I need to read For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms, at the very least. Just to provide further fuel for debate, or, if for nothing else, because I know it is good for me to (force myself to) read stripped-down, minimalist prose.

  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW DanielSTJ's Avatar
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    I really want to get into reading more German literature. I want to read all the important works the big names first: Goethe, Schiller, Rilke, Hegel, Schopenhauer etc.
    Vivere militare est.

  20. #20
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin altoid967's Avatar
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    The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigges by Rilke is beautiful, even in English.

  21. #21
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Dallas's Avatar
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    I just read "To Kill a Mockingbird" and it was much better than I had hoped, but then I read Kafka's "Metamorphosis" and I've lost hope again. It's really a hit and miss. I'm gearing up to read 1984 and hoping for the best.

  22. #22
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    I just started Wuthering Heights. I know very little of the story, so I'm looking forward to it. I've been reading recent books lately, so getting into the older style of story telling is taking some willingness and patience.

    To Kill A Mockingbird was great, and I read it for the first time just in the past couple years. 1984 was quite good. One quote I use a lot is "If you kept the small rules, you could break the big ones."
    Last edited by Chris P; 12-02-2017 at 08:23 AM. Reason: Keeping the small rules by correcting the misquote before someone corrects it for me
    Join any time! Take the 2017 AW Reading Challenge. Pick 12 books from a list of topics and read/discuss with us throughout the year.

  23. #23
    There's a stick up there Kjbartolotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by altoid967 View Post
    The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigges by Rilke is beautiful, even in English.
    I could spend my life lost in Rilke. Rediscovering the Duino Elegies & Sonnets to Orpheus recently.

    Manuscript Found in Sargossa by Jan Potocki is a real treat, I don't think I have the ability to describe it properly. Think if Umberto Eco and Gabriel Garcia Marquez got together to write an 18th Century adventure novel, framed in the style of Arabian Nights and full of antic humor and melodrama.
    Last edited by Kjbartolotta; 12-02-2017 at 12:02 PM. Reason: you can wikipedia it yourself

  24. #24
    Downbeat, and loving it! van Adel's Avatar
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    I'd like to re-read Lord of the Flies sometime. I read it for high school in 1990 or 1991.

    One classic lit title I haven't read is Fahrenheit 451.

  25. #25
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    I love it that 20th books are now being listed among the classics! I have Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here on my list. I've so far only read Main Street by him, and I thought it was as enjoyable and more accessible than F. Scott Fitzgerald.
    Join any time! Take the 2017 AW Reading Challenge. Pick 12 books from a list of topics and read/discuss with us throughout the year.

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