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Classics Club Challenge Reading Challenges Reviews

A Heterogenous Superfluity of Trisyllabic Utterances: The Portrait of a Lady (1881), by Henry James

Ladies and gentlemen, pray mind the spoilers!

Oh my poor, poor Classics Club list. I made it in 2014 and infused it with all the optimism of my more youthful days. I was convinced I would read 100 classics (including such hefty tomes as War and Peace and Ulysses – ah the vanity of youth) in four years. Five years on and I’ve made it about 10% of the way through that list. So I’m guessing I’ll be done with it sometime around my sixtieth birthday. Hooray for me!

This book was #61 on that list, and since I somehow associated the month of March with E.M. Forster books about Italy (I read Where Angels Fear to Tread and A Room With a View in some long-ago March and since then the association has been fixed in my brain), I thought I’d read another classic that features Italy heavily. Well, last March I managed to make it about five chapters into The Portrait of a Lady before giving up. This year I was determined to make it all the way through.

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Classics Club Challenge Reading Challenges Reviews

In Which I Have Nothing Original to Add to the Discussion on: Howards End (1910), by E.M. Forster

Howards EndThis book is #65 on my Classics Club list.

Right. I didn’t have a whole lot to say about Howards End, so I decided to go away and read some reviews to see what other people are saying about the book. And it seems like all the reviews, positive or negative, seem to more or less agree on a few main points:

1. The novel is about class. Some other stuff too, but people mostly seem to agree that it’s about class. Because there’s three families, and two of them are rich enough and marry one another, and one is not. This is all very sad and tragic and allows Forster to make some profound comments on the way that class works in the twentieth century. Don’t ask me what they are, I just know they’re profound.

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Prompts Memes and Other Fun Things

How to Pick a Classic; Or, Canons and Anti-Canons

contemporary classicsThis month The Classics Club asked us to consider which books, published since the year 2000, we think will become classics in the future.

I’m going to try and be a little bit provocative here (or maybe just plain annoying, take your pick), and say that I honestly don’t know which books will become classics fifty or one hundred years from now. And I’ll go even further and say that it’s probably pointless to try and speculate today what people in the future will value, enjoy, and celebrate. Because let’s face it – it’s impossible to tell. If you’d told our straight-laced Victorian forbears (or, well, your straight-laced Victorian forbears, if you happen to be English) that in one hundred and thirty years everybody would be reading a book about kinky sex (50 Shades of Grey), or that one of ‘the’ modernist novels is about a self-obsessed Hungarian-Jewish-Irishman who masturbates in public and thinks about food a lot (Ulysses), they probably would have quivered from their toes all the way to their big black hats.

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Summer Plans, And All That Stuff

summerplansCue dramatic music, please… because I am finally ready to resume normal life. Yes, that’s right, I’ve finally finished my university work for this year. That means that I can now return to regularly programmed human activities, such as showering, holding conversations that last for more that fifteen minutes (and are related to something other than essays and assignments), and actually, you know, leaving the house more than twice a week.

So what have I got planned for my extended summer holidays? Well, I can’t say for sure yet, but I can say with some certainty that it will involve a lot of books.

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Books and Reading Prompts Memes and Other Fun Things

Classics Club Meme: Favourite Literary Period

classicsclub1This month The Classics Club asked a very interesting question: what is your favourite “classic” literary period and why?

Now, for someone who has devoted their life to studying literature, that sort of question is a little like asking a marine biologist what their favourite kind of fish is. Or asking a music lover what their favourite Beatles song is. Or asking just about anybody what their favourite episode of Friends is. (Because who doesn’t like Friends?)