This month’s classic falls at a perfect time…election time! Not that my reading of Animal Farm in any way made me feel as if Lawrence is being controlled by tyrants or anything. But election time does always make me focus a bit on the electoral/political process. Election Day makes me thankful for the freedom we have as Americans and the rights we have, electing our leaders among those rights. Yet, even while reminding us how good we have it, a reading of Animal Farm can certainly serve as a cautionary tale of how bad it could be to live under a truly tyrannical regime. The story is an obvious satire of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath…Marx, Stalin, Trotsky, all of that. George Orwell did not even attempt to veil his critique of Stalinism, having virtually one-to-one correlations between his characters and their respective historical counterparts. Read More..
This month I was able to squeeze in two classics! It helped that both were nice & quick, action-packed, fast-moving adventures. It also helped that they were both by the excellent Jules Verne. As has been the case a couple of times during my Reading the Classics project, after my February Classic I was ready for something a bit lighter. Luckily, the library’s One Click Digital audiobook service had just the material I was looking for! I was ready for some fun rather than the deep philosophical examination that is so prominent in many of the classics of literature. So it was with a childlike giddiness that I checked out Around the World in 80 Days. Read More..
“The enemy is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he’s on.” –Yossarian, Catch-22
It’s not often that I pick up a “classic” that has so much timely relevance as this month’s read. Sure, you can find parallels to modern society in just about any classic you read…I think that’s essential in making a book a classic. But with our nation mired in numerous unpopular foreign conflicts for the past decade or more, Catch-22 really made an impact on me as to how absurd the waging of war really is! Joseph Heller’s masterpiece, and YES, I’d definitely call this a masterpiece, is the epitome of wartime chaos and absurdity. Read More..
Knowing that I’d basically be taking a month off from blogging about my Classics Reading Project during our library’s move to its temporary location, I knew I had plenty of time to read. And what better to fill that stretch with than another doorstop of a classic of Russian Lit? So it was that I picked up a copy of Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky…not exactly the cinderblock-sized book that is War & Peace (the Russian Literature that got me started with this whole Reading the Classics thing). But I was also under the impression that, while shorter than War & Peace’s 1300+ pages, Dostoevsky’s 630 page masterpiece was a bit deeper psychologically. Read More..
This month I accidentally discovered a novel that may very well rank among my favorites of all time! I had actually begun to read another book to serve as my “Classic of the Month”. It was a reread; again a re-visitation of a favorite from my college days that I felt I wanted to share…and it may yet become a blog post one day. But just as I was getting into it, fate intervened! And oddly enough it came in the form of rabbits from Richard Adam’s Watership Down. Read More..
Okay! Okay! No more Simpsons jokes. But you have to admit that when you mention Homer, certain things come to mind!
Anyway, last month I hinted that I might delve into some Homeric epic poetry as my “Classic of the Month”. I followed through with that idea lest I anger my faithful audience of followers! Admittedly, I did hint at The Odyssey but then realized that certain obsessive traits in me would not allow me to read the second part before the first so I picked up The Iliad instead. Read More..
“Chivalry! Why, maiden, she is the nurse of pure and high affection, the stay of the oppressed, the redresser of grievances, the curb of the power of the tyrant. Nobility were but an empty name without her, and liberty finds the best protection in her lance and her sword.” Read More..
Okay. So it’s not really a Choose Your Own Adventure version of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, but it does have alternate endings! The library purchased a special edition of the novel that contains the literary equivalent of a DVD’s Special Features Disc. Included in this special edition are introductions and forewords by Hemingway’s sons, lists of titles that Hemingway considered, some interesting material from Papa’s early drafts and the 30+ alternative endings that were written but then rejected. As a writer myself, it’s an interesting study in how this great American novel was produced. But it’s the lure of checking another “classic” off of my To-Be-Read-List that seems to have been drawing me to Hemingway. However, in the interest of total transparency I have to admit that reading this novel does not really remove anything from my TBR list as I actually read it in high school…and HATED it. But I’ve grown a bit since then and feel that I’m ready to give old Ernest another chance on my reading list. Read More..
My monthly goal of taking another classic off of my to-be-read list was supposed to be an easy one for July, as this time I selected a rather short work, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. It turns out that getting through Heart of Darkness was a bit harder (and more enlightening) than I had planned. I was aware that the work was pretty heavy and that it included some racist language but I was sure I could deal with those things if I aimed just for reading an adventure story and if I kept in mind the context in which it was written. Conrad wrote the work at the end of the 19th century… a time when Europeans were exploring much of the little known continent of Africa. I understood this, so I was sure I could keep myself in a proper frame of mind. After all, I had read some of Conrad’s other stuff and his usual language was VERY readable…almost poetic, in fact! This was mostly true of Heart of Darkness. Conrad’s writing is amazing! His descriptive imagery is some of the most vivid I have ever read! I cannot recall ever feeling more present in a story. Yet, here and there I found myself pulled out of the story by the racial slurs and found a need to force myself back into the context of Conrad’s period. Read More..
“Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee”
Now that’s exactly how I had to approach my latest attempt to take one of the major classics off of my to-be-read list! Moby Dick is a chore! I knew it from the start! And so I went into the project knowing that, like Ahab, the obsessed whaling captain from Melville’s classic; I would grapple with demons that I didn’t know I had! To make this task a bit easier on myself, I chose to listen to the book in its Audiobook format from the library’s OneClick Digital platform. Having someone read to me is relaxing and generally very enjoyable. When it comes to having classics read to me, it feels a bit like cheating! But cheating is exactly what I knew I’d have to resort to if I was going to get through this book! Read More..