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Archive for the ‘Classics Club’ Category

Tien from Tien’s Blurb weighed in on my prior post about Les Miserables to mention that she hadn’t liked Cosette much in the book, which surprised her. Her comment – rather perceptively – referred to how much Cosette was “cossetted” and, honestly, I hadn’t made the connection between her name and the word cosset, although I have to surmise that this wasn’t a coincidence on the part of Hugo. Cosset is a verb that means “to pamper or treat as a pet,” the origin of which may be the “mid 16th century (as a noun denoting a lamb brought up by hand, later a spoiled child): probably from Anglo-Norman French coscet ‘cottager’, from Old English cotsǣta ‘cottar’.” (See: Oxford Dictionaries online).

This made me start thinking about the various depictions of Victorian womanhood in novels. This pampered girl is a common archetype of the period, and not just in Les Miserables, where it is exemplified by Cosette:

Les Misérables

“To have continually at your side a woman, a girl, a sister, a charming being, who is there because you need her, and because she cannot do without you, to know you are indispensable to someone necessary to you, to be able at all times to measure her affection by the degree of the presence that she gives you, and to say to yourself: She dedicates all her time to me, because I possess her whole love; to see the thought if not the face; to be sure of the fidelity of one being in a total eclipse of the world; to imagine the rustling of her dress as the rustling of wings; to hear her moving to and fro, going out, coming in, talking, singing, to think that you are the cause of those steps, those words, that song; to show your personal attraction at every moment; to feel even more powerful as your infirmity increases; to become in darkness, and by reason of darkness, the star around which this angel gravitates; few joys can equal that. “

And then we have the English version, Dora Spenlow from David Copperfield

Dora_spenlow

“All was over in a moment. I had fulfilled my destiny. I was a captive and a slave. I loved Dora Spenlow to distraction! She was more than human to me. She was a Fairy, a Sylph, I don’t know what she was – anything that no one ever saw, and everything that everybody ever wanted. I was swallowed up in an abyss of love in an instant. There was no pausing on the brink; no looking down, or looking back; I was gone, headlong, before I had sense to say a word to her.”

And, pampered girl a la Russe, Kitty Shcherbatskaya from Anna Karenina:

“But Levin was in love, and so it seemed to him that Kitty was so perfect in every respect that she was a creature far above everything earthly; and that he was a creature so low and so earthly that it could not even be conceived that other people and she herself could regard him as worthy of her.”

There are similarities between all three of these characters. They are all three extraordinarily pretty, but somewhat dimwitted, young women who exist and who are spoken about primarily as foils to the male hero. David Copperfield and Anna Karenina both, to some degree, have characters that function as stand-ins for the male author (David Copperfield is frankly biographical, and Konstantin Levin, in Anna Karenina is often considered to be a semi-autobiographical portrayal of Tolstoy’s own beliefs, struggles and life events).

Dora Spenlow is, in my opinion, one of the absolutely most boring characters ever created in literature. She is incapable of so much as holding a broom and sweeping the kitchen, and her defining traits are that she marries the hero and plays with her dog. Cosette isn’t much better – she is pampered by Jean Valjean to the point that she lacks even the tiniest bit of independence, and she essentially goes from his home to the home of Marius without the slightest hiccup, never engaging in even the mildest rebellion. Even as she is being separated from the man that she loves, she doesn’t speak an unkind word. Neither of these characters exhibit any emotional growth during the course of their novels (Dora is so miserably static that Dickens kills her off to open the door to David Copperfield having a relationship with the multi-dimensional Agnes).

As I have mentioned before, I am also listening to one of the Great Courses on the Victorian era. I doubt seriously that this character would have or could have existed in real form. Girls – even upper-class teen girls – are not so lacking in dimension that, even during the Victorian era, they would have been successfully pampered into lapdogs. So this abomination of a living, breathing, woman may have been the ideal, but what a tragic freaking commentary that is on the society that admired these characters – that an ideal young woman was young, pretty, brainless, and useless.

The reality was likely – hopefully – far more interesting than the fictional.

I am not slamming Dickens, Tolstoy and Hugo. All three of these authors created other female characters that were multi-dimensional and interesting – sometimes even in the same book. Anna Karenina, herself, is a whiny pain in the hind-end, but she is a great character. Flawed (oh, so flawed), interesting, petulant, but with depth and the ability to make absolutely terrible choices for herself. I’ve already mentioned Agnes from David Copperfield – David’s second and so much better choice – but we also have David’s Aunt Betsy, who is an amazing character, full of life, acerbic and hard-working. Fantine, in Les Miserables, is melodramatic and idealized, but still had individual agency, and Eponine, tragically, does rebel against her family and society by taking to the barricades and she dies because of it (is it a coincidence that Hugo’s female characters who step outside of this idealized role all end up tragically dying? Probably not).

This archetypal character – Dora/Cosette/Kitty – provides insight into a society that frankly oppressed women, by taking the ultimate expression of what that oppression wrought (a woman utterly bereft of usefulness, a decorative non-person, with about as much substance as a blow-up doll) and idealizing it, and that is enlightening.

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2/2014 and the first book of the Bronte Project.

agnes grey Agnes Grey was published in 1847. This was an exceptionally good year for the Brontes – 1847 saw the publication of Agnes Grey, Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, which combined to form a trifecta of Bronte awesomeness, and includes the two most well-known books by the Brontes.

Anne Bronte was the youngest Bronte, and remains the least well-known of the three sisters. She died extraordinarily young, at 29 years of age. Her only other published work is The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which was out of publication for many years at the behest (as I understand it) of the eldest and most prolific sister, Charlotte. Agnes Grey was published under the pseudonym Acton Bell.

Agnes Grey is a bildungsroman, or a coming of age story, in this case, of the titular character, Agnes. The book begins with Agnes and her sister living at home with her parson father and their mother. Father unwisely invests money with a merchant who ends up dying, and the family loses all their savings. Agnes, in a bid for independence, decides to go to work as a governess. She ultimately obtains a position as a governess for a wealthy family, and leaves the family homes and goes out in the world.

I really liked this book. I was not a fan of Wuthering Heights when I read it many years ago (I am rereading it this year), although I did love Jane Eyre. Agnes Grey is, in my mind, less sophisticated than Jane Eyre, but has many of the same themes. Anne Bronte used the book as a vehicle to explore oppression of women, animal cruelty, love, marriage and religion.

I have been listening to one of the Great Courses on the Victorian era as well as reading books that were written in and during the Victorian era. There are two lectures, so far, that dealt directly with women – one about upper class women and one about working class women. The circumstances for working class girls/women were fairly dire, actually, and Agnes Grey does a good job of illustrating that direness. Agnes finds herself working for a family that is clearly inferior to her in most domains – she has more common sense, more integrity, she is better educated, she has a greater work ethic, she is more useful. The only area that they exceed her is in that of wealth. They are rich, she is poor.

Each of the families, nonetheless, considers themselves and is considered by society, to be her superior. The Bloomfield family – the first family where she is a governess – has raised their eldest son to be an overtly cruel human being. He is abusive – both verbally and at times physically – to Agnes, and he casually tortures small animals. His education is a total loss because no one exerts even the slightest degree of control over him to force him to learn, and being the eldest son of a wealthy family, there is no incentive for him to be anything other than what he desires to be. Agnes is dismissed when she fails to educate him.

The second family, the Murray family, is less casually abusive but concomitantly more frivolous. Agnes is governess to their two youngest daughters. The eldest, Rosalie, is a pretty ornament who thinks only of flirtations and marriage. Matilda, the youngest, is a foul-mouthed tomboy who is also a liar (I confess a bit of partiality to poor Matilda. She’s so screwed in that era). The appearance is the reality for this family, and nothing matters but what is on the surface.

Agnes Grey is based on Anne Bronte’s experience as a governess. One of the things that I found interesting was how little actual learning was going on in the schoolroom. I am sure that not every Victorian wealthy family was the same, but Agnes was given no authority at all, and was therefore ignored at best and abused at worst. I cannot think of few worse jobs than being charged with the education of spoiled, entitled, in some cases quite possibly sociopathic, children who have total power over your life. It’s a nightmarish prospect.

It is easy to wax nostalgic for the past, and for eras like the Victorian era. Reading a book like Agnes Grey is a useful exercise to remind us that we should not idealize the past.

I will have more to say about Agnes Grey, and the other Bronte sisters, and probably the Victorians in general, over the course of the rest of the year. I would probably call Agnes Grey a minor masterpiece, but a masterpiece nonetheless. I have heard that Anne’s second book, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is even better.

I have started Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, for a read-along with Maggie, over at Maggie’s blog, An American in France.

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I haven’t gotten In as much reading as I had hoped because my whole family went to see The Desolation of Smaug!

Another quote from Agnes Grey:

“Perhaps you are too wise for them. How do you amuse yourself when alone — do you read much?”

“Reading is my favorite occupation, when I have leisure for it and books to read.”

A man after my own heart!

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ccreadathon2 Today is the Classics Club second annual read-a-thon. I will be participating, but at a bit of a lower level because I’ve got a lot to do this weekend to get ready for the first full week back to work on Monday.

The first order of business is to finish off Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which isn’t a classic, but I only have about ten pages left.

Name and Blog: I’m Christine of the Moonlight Reader!
Snacks and Beverages of Choice: Coffee. Chocolate. Weird combinations of Mexican food because I have a metric ton of seasoned ground turkey in my fridge.
Where are you reading from today? Oregon, USA!
What are your goals for the Readathon?: I have no goals. Just to enjoy a cozy winters weekend in front of the fire, with a classic novel in my hand.
What book(s) are you planning on reading?: Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte. Arabella by Georgette Heyer. Whose Body by Dorothy Sayers. Redwall by Brian Jacques. Although I could change my mind . . .
Are you excited?: Definitely! I am going to make a weekend of it! I will post periodic updates today, although I’ll take a break midday because I already promised my daughter I would take her and a friend to see The Desolation of Smaug. Good luck to you all!

agnes grey arabella whose body redwall

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back to the classics2014

As described in the preceding post, I will be participating in the Back to the Classics challenge, this year hosted by Karen at Karensbooksandchocolate. In addition to the six mandatory categories, there are five optional reads:

magnificent ambersons An American Classic. Written by Booth Tarkington, and published to great acclaim in 1918, The Magnificent Ambersons won a Pulitzer Prize.

From Goodreads:

Set in the Midwest in the early twentieth century—the dawn of the automobile age—the novel begins by introducing the richest family in town, the Ambersons. Exemplifying aristocratic excess, the Ambersons have everything money can buy—and more. But George Amberson Minafer—the spoiled grandson of the family patriarch—is unable to see that great societal changes are taking place, and that business tycoons, industrialists, and real estate developers will soon surpass him in wealth and prestige. Rather than join the new mechanical age, George prefers to remain a gentleman, believing that being things” is superior to doing things.” But as his town becomes a city, and the family palace is enveloped in a cloud of soot, George’s protectors disappear one by one, and the elegant, cloistered lifestyle of the Ambersons fades from view, and finally vanishes altogether.

A brilliant portrayal of the changing landscape of the American dream, The Magnificent Ambersons is a timeless classic that deserves a wider modern audience.

mistress of mellyn A Classic Mystery, Suspense or Thriller. The Mistress of Mellyn was published in 1960 by Eleanor Hibbert writing as Victoria Holt. Victoria Holt was a pleasure of my youth, and it’ll be fun to reread on of her classics.

From Goodreads:

Mount Mellyn stood as proud and magnificent as she had envisioned…But what bout its master–Connan TreMellyn? Was Martha Leigh’s new employer as romantic as his name sounded? As she approached the sprawling mansion towering above the cliffs of Cornwall, an odd chill of apprehension overcame her.

TreMellyn’s young daugher, Alvean, proved as spoiled and difficult as the three governesses before Martha had discovered. But it was the girl’s father whose cool, arrogant demeanor unleashed unfimiliar sensations and turmoil–even as whispers of past tragedy and present danger begin to insinuate themselves into Martha’s life.

Powerless against her growing desire for the enigmatic Connan, she is drawn deeper into family secrets–as passion overpowers reason, sending her head and heart spinning. But though evil lurks in the shadows, so does love–and the freedom to find a golden promise forever…

game of kings A Historical Fiction Classic. Published in 1961, The Game of Kings is the first of Dorothy Dunnet’s Lymond Chronicles. This has been on my TBR list for years, and I’m glad to be able to finally get it moved up into the soon to read pile!

From Wikipedia:

Living mostly by his wits and his sword-arm in 16th-century Scotland, Francis Crawford of Lymond is a charismatic figure: polyglot scholar, soldier, musician, master of disguises, nobleman—and accused outlaw. After five years exile, Lymond has recently returned to Scotland, in defiance of Scottish charges against him for treason on behalf of the English and murder. He has assembled a private band of mercenaries and ruffians who follow his ruthless, despotic leadership. The reader only gradually learns that Lymond has returned with a single goal: to prove his innocence and restore his name, he must find the man who framed him and condemned him to two years as a French galley slave before he managed to escape.

The novel is constructed as a clockwork mystery: an intricate web of many moving parts, punctuated by set pieces of adventure, high comedy, or intense drama. The suspense is as to whether Lymond will prove himself innocent, die in the attempt, or be captured and hanged. The mystery is “who is Lymond?” Dunnett reveals only gradually, with tantalizing hints and small details, Lymond’s motives and his true relationships with the other characters. Lymond leaves no one indifferent to him: some of the key characters—such as Richard Crawford, third Baron Culter and Lymond’s older brother, and Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox—are one-time friends or intimates who become his mortal enemies. Betrayals and double-crosses, both potential and actual, abound. The pieces of the mystery only fit together late in the story as revelations at a trial.

As an established part of the minor landed aristocracy, the Crawfords cannot avoid becoming entangled in the complex politics between England and Scotland, the Anglo-Scottish wars and Scotland’s alliance with France, or in the conflicts among the residents of the Borders region between the two kingdoms.

A number of historical persons appear in the novel, many as important and well-developed characters. They include members of the Scott clan — Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch, his wife, Janet Beaton, and his son William Scott of Kincurd, who becomes Lymond’s second-in-command in his band of outlaws; Mary of Guise, the Queen Dowager of Scotland and her young daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots; and members of the Douglas family—including Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, his brother Sir George Douglas, his daughter Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox (niece of Henry VIII who was the brother of Margaret’s mother Margaret Tudor, widow of James IV, and mother of James V), and Margaret’s husband Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, a potential claimant to the Scottish throne in case of the death of the young Mary, Queen of Scots. The English military leaders responsible for prosecuting the war of The Rough Wooing, Sir William Grey and Lord Thomas Wharton, also have prominent, and often comedic, roles.

the enchanted april A Classic That’s Been Adapted Into a Movie or TV Series. The Enchanted April was made into a movie starring Joan Plowright, Alfred Molina, Jim Broadbent and a number of other fine British actors in 1991. It was originally published in 1922.

From Goodreads:

A discrete advertisement in The Times, addressed to “those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine,” is the prelude to a revelatory month for four very different women. High above a bay on the Italian Riviera stands the medieval castle San Salvatore. Beckoned to this haven are Mrs. Wilkins, Mrs. Arbuthnot, Mrs. Fisher, and Lady Caroline Dester, each quietly craving a respite. Lulled by the gentle spirit of the Mediterranean, they gradually shed their public skins, discovering a harmony each of them has longed for but none has ever known. First published in 1922, this captivating novel is imbued with the descriptive power and lighthearted irreverence for which Elizabeth von Arnim is renowned.

Extra Fun Category: Write a Review of the Movie or TV Series adapted from Optional Category #4.

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back to the classics2014

I will be participating in the Back to the Classics challenge, this year hosted by Karen at Karensbooksandchocolate. It has 6 mandatory categories:

an american tragedy A 20th Century Classic (must be published before 1964). An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser was published in 1925.

From Goodreads:

A tremendous bestseller when it was published in 1925, “An American Tragedy” is the culmination of Theodore Dreiser’s elementally powerful fictional art. Taking as his point of departure a notorious murder case of 1910, Dreiser immersed himself in the social background of the crime to produce a book that is both a remarkable work of reportage and a monumental study of character. Few novels have undertaken to track so relentlessly the process by which an ordinary young man becomes capable of committing a ruthless murder, and the further process by which social and political forces come into play after his arrest.
In Clyde Griffiths, the impoverished, restless offspring of a family of street preachers, Dreiser created an unforgettable portrait of a man whose circumstances and dreams of self-betterment conspire to pull him toward an act of unforgivable violence. Around Clyde, Dreiser builds an extraordinarily detailed fictional portrait of early twentieth-century America, its religious and sexual hypocrisies, its economic pressures, its political corruption. The sheer prophetic amplitude of his bitter truth-telling, in idiosyncratic prose of uncanny expressive power, continues to mark Dreiser as a crucially important American writer. “An American Tragedy,” the great achievement of his later years, is a work of mythic force, at once brutal and heartbreaking.

Bleak House A 19th Century Classic. Written by Charles Dickens and published in 1852, Bleak House is considered one of his masterworks.

From Goodreads:

Bleak House opens in the twilight of foggy London, where fog grips the city most densely in the Court of Chancery. The obscure case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, in which an inheritance is gradually devoured by legal costs, the romance of Esther Summerson and the secrets of her origin, the sleuthing of Detective Inspector Bucket and the fate of Jo the crossing-sweeper, these are some of the lives Dickens invokes to portray London society, rich and poor, as no other novelist has done. Bleak House, in its atmosphere, symbolism and magnificent bleak comedy, is often regarded as the best of Dickens. A ‘great Victorian novel’, it is so inventive in its competing plots and styles that it eludes interpretation.

From Wikipedia:

Bleak House is a novel by Charles Dickens, published in 20 monthly instalments between March 1852 and September 1853. It is held to be one of Dickens’s finest novels, containing one of the most vast, complex and engaging arrays of minor characters and sub-plots in his entire canon. The story is told partly by the novel’s heroine, Esther Summerson, and partly by a mostly omniscient narrator. Memorable characters include the menacing lawyer Tulkinghorn, the friendly but depressive John Jarndyce, and the childish and disingenuous Harold Skimpole, as well as the likeable but imprudent Richard Carstone.

At the novel’s core is long-running litigation in England’s Court of Chancery, Jarndyce v Jarndyce, which has far-reaching consequences for all involved. This case revolves around a testator who apparently made several wills. The litigation, which already has taken many years and consumed between £60,000 and £70,000 in court costs, is emblematic of the failure of Chancery. Dickens’s assault on the flaws of the British judicial system is based in part on his own experiences as a law clerk, and in part on his experiences as a Chancery litigant seeking to enforce copyright on his earlier books. His harsh characterisation of the slow, arcane Chancery law process gave memorable form to pre-existing widespread frustration with the system. Though Chancery lawyers and judges criticised Dickens’s portrait of Chancery as exaggerated and unmerited, his novel helped to spur an ongoing movement that culminated in the enactment of legal reform in the 1870s.

agnes grey A Classic by a Woman Author. I will be reading all of the novels written by the three Bronte sisters next year. To satisfy this challenge, I will rely on Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte.

From Wikipedia:

Agnes Grey is the debut novel of English author Anne Brontë, first published in December 1847, and republished in a second edition in 1850.[1] The novel follows Agnes Grey, a governess, as she works in several bourgeois families. Scholarship and comments by Anne’s sister Charlotte Brontë suggest the novel is largely based on Anne Brontë’s own experiences as a governess for five years. Like her sister Charlotte’s novel Jane Eyre, it addresses what the precarious position of governess entailed and how it affected a young woman.

The choice of central character allows Anne to deal with issues of oppression and abuse of women and governesses, isolation and ideas of empathy. An additional theme is the fair treatment of animals. Agnes Grey also mimics some of the stylistic approaches of bildungsromans, employing ideas of personal growth and coming to age, but representing a character who in fact does not gain in virtue.

The Irish novelist George Moore praised Agnes Grey as “the most perfect prose narrative in English letters,”and went so far as to compare Anne’s prose to that of Jane Austen. Modern critics have made more subdued claims admiring Agnes Grey with a less overt praise of Brontë’s work than Moore.

a hero of our time A Classic in Translation

From Goodreads

The first major Russian novel, A Hero of Our Time was both lauded and reviled upon publication. Its hero, twenty-five-year-old Pechorin, is a beautiful and magnetic but nihilistic young army officer, bored by life and indifferent to his many sexual conquests. Chronicling his unforgettable adventures in the Caucasus involving brigands, smugglers, soldiers, rivals, and lovers, this classic tale of alienation influenced Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Chekhov, and holds up a mirror not only to Lermontov’s time but also to our own.

From Wikipedia

The book is divided into five short stories or novellas, plus (in the second edition) an authorial preface. There are three major narrators: an unnamed young travel writer who has received Pechorin’s diaries after he bequeaths them to captain Maxim Maximych and who is implied to be Lermontov himself; Maxim Maximych, an old staff-captain who served with Pechorin for some time during the Caucasian War; and Pechorin himself via his diaries. The stories depict Pechorin as impulsive, emotionally distant and manipulative, capable of extreme bravery but generally bored by his life.

In the longest novella, Princess Mary, Pechorin flirts with the Princess of the title, while conducting an affair with his ex-lover Vera, and kills his friend Grushnitsky (of whom he is secretly contemptuous) in a duel in which the participants stand in turn on the edge of a cliff so that the loser’s death can be explained as an accidental fall. Eventually he rejects one woman only to be abandoned by the other.

The preface explains the author’s idea of his character: “A Hero of Our Time, my dear readers, is indeed a portrait, but not of one man. It is a portrait built up of all our generation’s vices in full bloom. You will again tell me that a human being cannot be so wicked, and I will reply that if you can believe in the existence of all the villains of tragedy and romance, why wouldn’t believe that there was a Pechorin? If you could admire far more terrifying and repulsive types, why aren’t you more merciful to this character, even if it is fictitious? Isn’t it because there’s more truth in it than you might wish?”

guns of august A Classic About War. Sneaking under the rule that a classic must be at least 50 years old, Tuchman’s The Guns of August won the Pulitzer Prize in 1963.

From Goodreads

Historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Barbara Tuchman has brought to life again the people and events that led up to World War I. With attention to fascinating detail, and an intense knowledge of her subject and its characters, Ms. Tuchman reveals, for the first time, just how the war started, why, and why it could have been stopped but wasn’t. A classic historical survey of a time and a people we all need to know more about, THE GUNS OF AUGUST will not be forgotten.

From Wikipedia

The book was an immediate bestseller and was on the New York Times best-seller list for 42 consecutive weeks. The Pulitzer Prize nomination committee was unable to award it the prize for outstanding history because Joseph Pulitzer’s will specifically stated that the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for history must be a book on American history. Instead, Tuchman was given the prize for general non-fiction.

According to the cover notes of an audio version of The Guns of August, “[President John F. Kennedy] was so impressed by the book, he gave copies to his cabinet and principal military advisers, and commanded them to read it.” In One Minute to Midnight on the Cuban Missile Crisis, Michael Dobbs notes the deep impression Guns had on Kennedy. He often quoted from it and wanted “every officer in the Army” to read it as well. Subsequently, “[t]he secretary of the Army sent copies to every U.S. military base in the world. Kennedy drew from The Guns of August to help in dealing with the Cuban Missile Crisis, including the profound and unpredictable implications a rapid escalation of the situation could have.”

lucky jim A Classic by an Author Who Is New To You.

From Goodreads

Kingsley Amis has written a marvelously funny novel describing the attempts of England’s postwar generation to break from that country’s traditional class structure. When it appeared in England, Lucky Jim provoked a heated controversy in which everyone took sides. Even W. Somerset Maugham reviewed the book, happily with great favor: “Mr. Kingsley Amis is so talented, his observations so keen, that you cannot fail to be convinced that the young men he so brilliantly describes truly represent the classes with which his novel is concerned.”

Lucky Jim was published in 1954.

The list is, as always, subject to change. But these are my plans for the mandatory six categories. I’ll decide later if I’m going to participate in the optional categories.

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classicsclub5-1

This is adapted from a blogger survey that has circulated around, and I can’t remember where I first saw it. I think that it was originally developed by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner. I’ve adapted it to my Classics Club books.

[A]uthor I’ve read the most books of: Dickens, with The Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield, and Dombey and Son.
[B]ook I struggled with finishing: Les Miserables. Confession: I still haven’t finished it.
[C]urrently reading: The Count of Monte Cristo.
[D]rink of choice while reading: Tea. Although Dombey and Son was more palatable with a pint of beer.
[E]book or print book: Both – Dickens is better in e-book, though, because: long and heavy.
[F]ictional character you probably would’ve dated in high school: This question makes me laugh. But, I’ll go with Tertius Lydgate, because I found him sadly adorable.
[G]lad you gave this book a chance: The House of Mirth, which was an amazing read.
[H]idden gem book: The Riders of the Purple Sage. This book was surprisingly enjoyable for a Western about Mormons. Odd, though.
[I]mportant moment in the last year: Inspiring some of my real life friends to read a classic.
[J]ust finished: Dombey and Son.
[K]ind of book I refuse to read: I really, really struggle with stream of consciousness. You’ll notice that there is no James Joyce on my list.
[L]ongest book: The Count of Monte Cristo WILL be the longest book, once I finish it. However, at this point, it’s a toss up between Middlemarch and Dombey and Son. They are both in the 880 page area, depending upon edition. Oh, and Anna Karenina.
[M]ajor book hangover: The House of Mirth.
[N]umber of List Classics Finished in the Last Year: 18
[O]ne Book I wish I hadn’t read: King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard. Seriously, the image of the elephant slaughter just won’t leave my brain. Also, because: horrible racist attitudes that have not aged well. Yuck.
[P]referred Place to Read: My living room, which is set up as my library. It also has a real fireplace, so in the winter time, I can have a crackling fire, a cup of tea, and quiet.
[Q]uote That Inspires You: “A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.” Madeleine L’Engle.
[R]eading Regret: Not finishing Les Miserables.
[S]eries You Started and Need to Finish (series is complete): Anne of Green Gables, which I will finish this year. Series aren’t really a “classics” thing, though.
[T]hree Favorite Books from this year: The House of Mirth, I Capture the Castle, Jane Eyre.
[U]napologetic Fangirl For: Edith Wharton and George Eliot.
[V]ery Excited to Read In Year Two: Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, and The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammet.
[W]orst Bookish Habit: I am always too ambitious, too many projects, and too many books going at once.
[X] Marks the Spot: Start at the top of your list and pick the 27th book: Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. Or the book for 1926, which is Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.
[Y]our Latest Book Purchase: I just ordered A Hero of Our Time by Lermontov and We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.
[Z]ZZ-Snatcher Book (last one that kept you up way too late): The House of Mirth.

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