[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.


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