[DWJ] Classic books

Elizabeth Parks henx19 at gmail.com
Tue Nov 3 22:57:03 EST 2009


Minnow reflected on the art of reading Dickens:
>
> My mother suggested to me, quite seriously, that the best way to read most
> of Dickens' work was the way it was written for: one chapter a month,
> re-reading a couple of times during that month and speculating about what
> might come next, as though it were coming out in a magazine in serial form.
>
> I find that the best way to read Dickens is to keep in mind that though he
wasn't technically paid by the word, Dickens was paid for volume in a way
that not all other writers are.  I picked up Great Expectations a couple of
years ago after not having read any Dickens since the age of ten, and
enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.  Knowing that he was writing
installments on a deadline helps me skim over a bit of it. . . it's good but
it's not amazing.  I think Middlemarch is amazing.  Some of Forster's stuff
is amazing--I love Howards End.  I am always amazed by how utterly readable
Austen is after all this time, and always surprised to remember that
Charlotte Bronte disdained Austen, though I honestly think that's more of a
personality thing on Bronte's part than a talent thing on Austen's.  I love
Sonnets from the Portuguese.  Claude Levi-Strauss has apparently just passed
away, so I'll mention that I like his Tristes Tropiques as well, though it
doesn't fit the profile.

I notice that most of the novels being mentioned are British, and I was
thinking about what American stuff I would recommend, and for a basic course
through the U.S. classics you can't really beat short stories.  Poe, of
course, and Hawthorne, and Flannery O'Connor.  Honestly, if anyone hasn't
read O'Connor, go do so now.

lizzie


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