Please introduce yourself and share a Classic book that has moved/inspired/changed you!

(Christa Guild) #1

Die-hard Dickens fan or Faulkner fiend? Connect with other Classics lovers here! Say hello and get the discussion rolling!

The First Classic book you read
(Christa Guild) #2

Okay, I'll get things moving here! I grew up in the UK and caught the Classics bug early -- nose deep in Austen at age 12. I took my love through to an MA in 20th century lit where I focussed on Samuel Beckett and all that crazy Modernist/Postmodern stuff. So I can't wait to chat with people about the whole spectrum of Classics, from Romantic and Victorian to the recently departed greats. I'm even game for some ancient Greek and Roman stuff if that's what floats your boat smile

(Jennifer D.) #4

Hi Kate!

I love Classic fiction and, like you, have been reading it since a young age. I always have trouble narrowing down my book love to just one or two 'favourites', or 'bests' (or ones that moved/inspired/changed me) - it totally depends on my mood and the day. smile

I am a huge fan of George Eliot so will always have her at, or very near, the top of my most loved Classics list. Alexandre Dumas is another long-time favourite, and I am a total sucker for Classic Russian lit. - especially in winter.

But, in an attempt to answer your question, I am going to say that my experience with reading A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens will always be a treasured memory. I read the book in high school, and was very lucky to have a great and inspiring teacher taking us through the novel. And what a story!! My teacher's love for Classic literature was so evident - it made me less... concerned about my own bookishness. Being a book nerd, at that time, was not quite the awesome thing it is today. I have read a lot of Dickens since that time, but A Tale of Two Cities will probably always be my favourite of his works.

(Christa Guild) #5

Hi @Dawson_Oakes! Thanks for joining in smile

So glad you mention George Eliot: The Mill on the Floss made me ball my eyes out when I read it a couple of years ago! That has to be one of the saddest endings in lit! I haven't tried Middlemarch yet, and I know I really can't say I've read Eliot until I've conquered that. Did you enjoy it? The size has been putting me off for a long time!

I love Dickens, but again - haven't read A Tale of Two Cities. After your glowing recommendation I'll definitely have to bump it up my TBR list! Also, isn't it amazing what an effect a great English teacher can have? I don't think I would have become the bookworm I am without being inspired by the love so many of my teachers had, particularly for classics.

(David B Writer) #6

Hi everyone, love the topic here. I was thinking of saying something about "Ulysses," since I completed my first reading of it a few months ago (yes -- "first" means I intend to read it again!) but instead I'll go in a different direction: "Henry IV, Part I and II." I realize it's not a novel, and I can't even say that reading it moved me, but: A few years ago my wife and I saw an amazing production of this Henry trilogy -- the one where Prince Hal is introduced, hanging out and drinking with Falstaff, and eventually becomes King of England. I was one of these people who -- even though I was interested in Shakespeare's "classics," the big ones (Hamlet, Macbeth, etc.) -- presumed that the histories were boring and would not speak to me. I've never been so thrilled to be so wrong. This trilogy, performed well, is extraordinary. The plays have a surprising amount of comedy. They're exciting. Also: The scene where the newly crowned Henry V rejects Falstaff is one of the most devastating moments I've ever seen on stage. Shakespeare hardly needs to be plugged, but here's a call for readers to consider plays off the beaten track, the histories, and the so-called "minor" plays. When performed well, there are no "minor" plays. If you don't believe me, watch Julie Taymor's film of the play frequently cited as Shakespeare's "worst": "Titus Andronicus"!

(Christa Guild) #7

Hi @DavidBWriter! Thanks for joining in, and welcome smile

I couldn't agree with you more. I had exactly the same perception of the histories -- what is it that makes us all think they'll be dull? And I'm even someone that loves history, but I was always a Tudors geek and didn't know much about the Plantagenets so I didn't feel inspired to read the history plays. I had almost the exact same experience as you though! I saw Henry IV part I at the Globe in London (I stood through the whole thing as a "Groundling," which cost all of £5!) and was blown away. I, too, couldn't believe how funny the play was! I think you really have to see Shakespeare acted to get the comedy - good actors make the jokes really transfer well to a modern audience.

I'm also a big fan of Richard II - not a comedy, more like one of the Tragedies in that it's a real character examination. And also Coriolanus is wonderful. Both of these really showcase something I think Shakespeare does astoundingly well - namely, taking a character who does truly terrible things but making them sympathetic and understandable as humans.

Great to connect with you on here, David! I look forward to more of your thoughts/book recommendations!

(Krizia Anna Lazaro) #8

Hi! I'm from Krizia from the Philippines! I love the classics! Here are some classic books that has moved me:

Wuthering Heights
Secret Garden
Of Mice and Men
The House of Mirth
Les Miserables

There's a lot more but those are one of the few.

(David B Writer) #9

I couldn't agree more about 'Coriolanus.' We saw that at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival a few years ago, and the actor in the title role gave one of the most astounding, titanic performances I've ever seen on stage. It was breathtaking. And yeah ... he's a jerk, but you also sympathize with him. Sort of. A little.

(Christa Guild) #10

Welcome, Krizia! Thanks for joining in!

So, you like Wuthering Heights? That makes me wonder whether you'd choose Emily Bronte as the queen of English literature over in our other classics discussion?

(Christa Guild) #11

I think it all depends on what directors/actors choose to emphasise. It's amazing how different a character can be in various productions. There was a wonderful production put on by the National Theatre in London about a year ago with Tom Hiddleston as Coriolanus and I definitely felt completely torn in how I felt towards him. They recorded the whole thing and broadcast it in cinemas in the States and I think there's a version online - worth a watch if you ever come across it, always fun to compare performances.

(David B Writer) #12

Thanks, I hadn't heard about that one, but if it's floating around somewhere online, that's great. I'm glad these plays are being filmed when done on stage. I've yet to find Kevin Spacey's "Iceman Cometh," though I haven't looked in a while.

This spring we're going to see "Pericles," one I haven't seen yet. And "Antony and Cleopatra" this summer.

(Bajen Cole) #13

Hello! I am Bajen from The Gambia. I love the idea of classics. I have not read a lot of them lately, however when I was younger I read quite a number. Problem with that is, I feel I will enjoy and appreciate it more now that I am older. That said and done, Pride and Prejudice is my favorite among the lot for now and one of my all time favorite novels. A timeless story about the the independence of a woman, that is so in tune with the world we live in now. I have tried getting into Jane Eyre without success. I have seen the movie and adored it. Imagine how much better the book will be.
Oliver Twist is also another favorite.

One of these days I am going to put away all these new releases and challenge myself to read all the popular classics out there:)

(Christa Guild) #14

Hi @Bajen_Cole! Welcome to Riffle Discussions smile

Pride & Prejudice is an excellent choice for your favourite classic! You should definitely persevere with Jane Eyre -- it really is a great book. Which movie version did you see?

(David B Writer) #15

Here's a thought: None of the books cited above were considered "classics" when they were published. Have you read anything published in the last decade or so that you believe will, half a century from now, be considered one of the "classics"?

(Bajen Cole) #16

@kate_hutchings I saw the 2011 version with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. I rave about it so much but I kept being told it is not the best version lol. But I will follow your advice and try to read it all soon.

(Bajen Cole) #17

@DavidBWriter Harry Potter series. I honestly think every child should be presented with this book at the age of 11 and given the following book every year until they turn 17/18.

I started a re-read a month or two ago and I feel even as an adult I was still learning and appreciating the world JK Rowling created. The book is full of hidden and obvious messages that both children and adult alike can learn from.

(Jennifer D.) #18

I will give this some thought - it is a great question. But it made think of other, related, questions:

  • What is it that you think makes a book a classic work of fiction?
  • What qualities of contemporary literature could give them longevity and relevance 200 years from now, they way Pride and Prejudice, or Shakespeare have endured for today's readers.

(David B Writer) #19

That is a great idea. Ideally, that's the way I'd like to do it. But an impossible task, I think: My 5-year-old son already knows a GREAT deal about Star Wars, and he has never seen the films. How did that happen? Kids just pick this stuff up ... someone at school shows up with a shirt with Darth Vader (or Harry Potter) emblazoned across the front, and now your child "knows" Darth Vader or Harry Potter. I think to keep kids in ignorance of what's available (the entire Rowling series) and then to prevent them from getting it somewhere on their own would be impossible. What would you do if your 11-year old tore through the first book and then the following week brought the second book home from the school library? Take it away? Good luck with that. wink

(David B Writer) #20

These are excellent questions, though I think one quality we could rule out is contemporary popularity. When Samuel Richardson's Clarissa, or: The History of a Young Lady was published it was enormously popular, like an 18th century 50 Shades of Grey. But who reads it today? (I did, and it took a year and a half.) On the other hand, The Great Gatsby fared poorly when it was first published.

(Jennifer D.) #21

I didn't mention popularity in posing the questions, just to clarify. It's certainly not a criteria in my own considerations.