Jillian tagged me for the Classics Book Tag – thanks, Jillian! So, let’s get on with it. Also, please enjoy this completely unrelated but extremely pretty stock photo I’ve included, mostly because I’ve pretty much tapped out Unsplash’s supply of book-related stock images.
1. An over-hyped classic you really didn’t like?
Le Mort d’Arthur. It’s basically 400+ pages of dudes in chain main slicing one another’s bodily appendages off as if they were made of butter. Pass.
The Catcher in the Rye. I hated Holden Caulfield from beginning to end, and it’s the first time in ages that I found myself rooting for a twist ending where THE MAIN CHARACTER SHOCKINGLY DIES AT THE END AND IS ACTUALLY NARRATING FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE. Although my theory is that Holden Caulfield could not be improved even by death.
2. Favourite time period to read about?
Any time period in which there are top hats.
3. Favourite fairytale?
Priče iz davnine (Croatian Tales of Long Ago) by Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić. My grandmother and mother used to read these tales to us when we were little. They are dark and awesome and in one of them a woman crosses the sea and meets a giant bee. This is trippy and amazing and should happen in all fairy tales all the time.
4. What is the most embarrassing classic you haven’t read?
Oh so many. But I’d have to say A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft, because although I’ve quoted it in more than one university essay, I’ve never actually read a word of it. The same applies to the Aeneid, only I don’t feel so bad about that.
5. Top 5 classics you want to read?
- The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James, which I am currently ‘reading’ (i.e., it’s sitting on my night-desk with a bookmark in Chapter Five since March).
- Middlemarch, by George Eliot.
- Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence.
- Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
- Waverley, by Walter Scott. It’s a travesty that I didn’t read this WHILE I WAS IN SCOTLAND.
I’d say Ulysses but I’d be lying.
6. Favorite modern book/series based on a classic?
To be honest, I’m a little suspicious of books that re-write classics. I feel like they sometimes end up too stilted, with the authors struggling to make nineteenth-century plot points work in the twenty-first century.
I do love a good send-up, though, and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is awesome; he frequently parodies famous classics: Wyrd Sisters is a send-up of Macbeth and Hamlet, for instance, and Maskerade parodies The Phantom of the Opera.
7. Favorite movie version / tv series based on a classic?
I could talk about this all day. And I already have when it comes to Jane Austen adaptations, of which there are too many to list here. I’ve also written about my favourite adaptations of books here. When it comes to classics:
- North and South (2005), based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel. Richard Armitage should teach a class on brooding. He does it so well.
- Jane Eyre (2006), based on the Charlotte Brontë novel. I’m a little bit more ambivalent about the 2011 movie, despite Michael Fassbender’s presence, which should be an automatic plus in the movie’s favour.
- The Great Gatsby (1974), because Robert Redford is Gatsby, and that’s really all I need to know.
- Much Ado About Nothing (1994). I have to hand it to Kenneth Branagh, this movie is adorable. And Emma Thompson is just brilliant in it.
- The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003). Lush landscapes, handsome men, and teeny-tiny dudes in hairy boots. I love this epic series.
- Rebecca (1940), based on the Daphne du Maurier novel, an early Hitchcock film and just incredible.
- Bleak House (2005) and Little Dorrit (2008), both based on Dickens novels, and both scripted by the indefatigable Andrew Davies.
- Clueless (1995), based on Austen’s Emma, Easy A (2010), based on The Scarlet Letter, and 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), based on The Taming of the Shrew, which is incredibly 90s and hilarious.
- The Musketeers (2014-2016), which is the first adaptation of The Three Musketeers I’ve seen that doesn’t make me want to roll my eyes so frequently that they’re in danger of popping right out of my skull.
8. Worst classic to movie adaptation?
- Ken Branagh’s Frankenstein. Just… urgh.
- Movies based on Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, particularly The Musketeer (2001) and The Man in the Iron Mask (1998). BizzareVictoria wrote a fantastic blow-by-blow account of this movie’s hilarious awfulness, and you should definitely read it.
9. Favorite editions you’d like to collect more of?
One day, I would love to own a copy of the Peacock edition of Pride and Prejudice. Isn’t it purrtty?
10. An underhyped classic?
It’s not so much the case now, but a few years ago nobody had ever heard of Elizabeth Gaskell’s novels, which I think is a right shame. Cranford and North and South have more traction now thanks to film adaptations, but Ruth and Wives and Daughters are also great books that are less well-known.
Let me know your answers in the comments below, or on your own blog!