Classics-I-Have-Not-Read - A Challenge Continued, by fuzzi
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Last year I decided that I wanted to read "classics" (mostly 19th Century and prior) that I had skipped over in my youth.
Did I make a dent? No, but I did get a few "off the shelves", which I have marked through on the list below.
From last year's list of books garnered from my own "TBR" list, and suggestions by other LT'ers as "classics":
The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Middlemarch by George Eliot - Currently reading
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Mysterious Island by Jules Verne
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper - Already read
The Heart of Midlothian by Walter Scott
The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia by Philip Sidney
The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - Already read
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - Already read
Nicholas Nickerby by Charles Dickens (note: I'm having a difficult time finding this in easy-to-read print, and I don't like reading ebooks)
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
Not originally written in English (for those who want a BIG challenge, thanks to harrygbutler for these)
The Iliad by Homer (I have received a graphic novel version from ER, will tackle it shortly)
Daphnis and Chloe by Longus
The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
Orlando Innamorato by Matteo Boiardo
Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto
Gerusalemme Liberata by Torquato Tasso
Care to join me? Us?
Have some suggestions?
You've got some heavy reading scheduled for 2019. Some of those books are huge tomes and a couple of them are on my TBR shelf as well. If I'm honest, they have sat there for many years calling out to be read but then along comes a shiny, new (and shorter) book that distracts me from my task. Good luck for 2019. I'll be following your progress.
I do not think I have ever read any of Sir Walter Scott's books. Maybe this is the year?
Do audiobooks count towards this challenge, fuzzi? I wanted to check before I broke the rules :)
>4 fuzzi: Thanks! I know there are a bunch of classics available in audio form, and since that is my primary method of reading these days, maybe I can finally get around to Scott.
>6 fuzzi: Thanks for the recommendation. I will see if I can find that one!
I have tentatively chosen The Canterbury Tales for my January classic.
Not making any promises, but I have these classics that I haven't read on my radar for 2019:
1. Barnaby Rudge (1841)
2. Dombey and Son (1848)
3. The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870)
1. Scenes from Clerical Life (1857)
2. Romola (1863)
3. Felix Holt, the Radical (1866)
1. The Three Clerks (1858)
2. The Bertrams (1859)
3. Castle Richmond (1860)
I'm also hoping to re-read these:
Austen, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey in detailed annotated editions
Eliot, Daniel Deronda
Trollope, The Kellys and the O'Kellys
I've never read Sir Walter Scott, but he is on my list of to-be-read as well. May not happen this year, though, but will be following how others respond to his writing.
Wishing you and yours a happy and joyous 2019, filled with peace, love, and great books.
I love re-reading MOBY-DICK (less the slaughtering) and Thomas Hardy (except for Jude).
That is a daunting list of classics. I have the 100 Greatest American Classics Library from the Franklin Mint since 1976 and I have a ways to go with those! Also, there are many Folio society classics in the growing To Be Read list.
I am not sure whether I could get through Middlemarch. Ivanhoe was actually a required book for a turn of the century Insurance examination. Maybe we could read that and start selling insurance.
Actually, those are all quite worthy books and I need to keep those in the mix for 2019.
I wish you the best in this pursuit.
>16 Forthwith: thank you. I only managed to remove three from that list in 2018, but I’m going to keep trying!
Last year I made such good progress with my classics challenge. I’d hate to give that up, so maybe following this thread will inspire me to read at least a few more this year.
Some possibilities from my shelves:
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney — I think I read this as a child, but don’t remember a thing about it.
She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith — classic plays make for nice, quick reads.
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens — I’ve started this more than once, but never finished it.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky — I’ve been meaning to read this for years.
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy — I liked Tess well enough last year to consider trying another Hardy.
The Divine Comedy by Dante — this would be a big challenge. I’d have to try to read a certain number of lines a day, I think.
There’s no chance of me reading all of them, but I hope to manage at least one or two.
>18 foggidawn: She Stoops to Conquer is actually pretty fun (and you're right that it's quick). I'm reading Crime and Punishment right now and I'm really surprised at how much I'm enjoying it, and I have Nicholas Nickleby on my list for this year, too. Far from the Madding Crowd is great, too, and Dante is cool, but yeah, a little at a time with that one, I think, is best.
How are we defining classic? Is there a time frame? Some books are called "modern" classics. Do they count? Just trying to see where some books would fit in and others not.
>20 alcottacre: for me a "classic" is something that I should have read 40 years ago in school. By the time I was a teenager our school was so progressive that they had elective English courses on Conan the Barbarian, lol. I never read Dickens until I was an adult with a long bus ride to and from work, daily.
Read as you like. I'm not strict with the definition except for myself: Dickens, Austen, Longfellow, Chaucer, Bunyan, etcetera.
>22 alcottacre: oh, that's a good one! I gave it 4 1/2 stars back in 2017.
I think it qualifies as a classic, not even "modern" at that...it's more than 70 years old.
I am reading now The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann.
Others I might read this year:
The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Auto-da-Fé by Elias Canetti
The Red and the Black by Stendhal
Zeno's Conscience by Italo Svevo
Germinal by Émile Zola
Against Nature by J-K Huysmans
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
The Idiot by F. Dostoevsky
A Classic for today, January 6th:
Three hundred and forty-eight years, six months, and nineteen days ago to-day,
the Parisians awoke to the sound of all the bells in the triple circuit of the city,
the university, and the town ringing a full peal. The sixth of January, 1482, is not, however,
a day of which history has preserved the memory.
I've been trying to salt in a lot of those books, Fuzzi, so I'll check in from time to time to see what you're reading. Maybe I can real along. I've been trying to get my book group to read Crime and Punishment, but it's considered too long by many in the group. Boo. We did read Robinson Crusoe last year and it went over really well.
>24 FAMeulstee: One of my book groups read Auto-da-fe a few years ago, and I couldn't finish it. The first section threw me into such a depression I put it back on the shelf, one of the few great books I couldn't read. I may try it again.
I finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn tonight and am wondering why it took me so long to get to this terrific coming-of-age book. Very highly recommended!
>31 FAMeulstee: It was odd. I can read dark books with ease and enjoyment if they are well-written, but when I was reading Auto-da-Fe I found myself turning into the nastiest character in the first section of the book. Then I was told I was only a few pages from a complete change of tone and outlook, but by then it was too late. I'll let you know when I'm ready for it again, but don't let me hold you up!
>34 ffortsa: You won't keep me from reading it when I feel like it. In the mean time I have enough others to keep me going in the next months, maybe even years ;-)
I have the following on my radar for 2019:
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoevsky
Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner - which is considered to be a early feminist classic and included in the NYRB Classics series
I also purchased Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy as an audiobook recently, but don't have it slated in yet - if I run out of audiobooks, I'll probably listen to it this year.
For audio book lovers, any book published before 1923 is in the public domain, and therefore has a chance to be part of the public domain collections of Project Gutenberg (online electronic text versions of public domain books) and Librivox, which provides audio versions of public domain books. Best part is that all Librivox versions remain in the public domain so you can download files for free, legally burn disc copies, and share any files and copies with friends. The readers are volunteers and I have found a few who really aren't great readers--but I've had that issue with audio books published through the mainstream, too. Google Librivox or download the app and browse their catalog; lots of classics of all kinds await!
>38 CassieBash: I had totally forgotten about Librivox! Thanks for the tip.
fuzzi, we need to get Jim to put this in the index on the 75'ers wiki.
I am going to try and do one classic a month. Next up for February and March are The Great Gatsby, which I have tried once before and did not like, and Ivanhoe, which I have never read.
ETA: I just realized that the title of this thread is 'Classics I Have Not Read,' so I am going to have to change my plans for February :)
>39 rretzler: Done! The thread's now on the group wiki. Actually, I thought I had already done it, but it appears I was mistaken!
>39 rretzler: No problem. Some classics are easier to squeeze into my schedule if I listen to them rather than try to read them in print. I don't own a lot of classics in print because they're so common to find in libraries and I prefer to keep my limited shelf space for harder-to-find books that I'll re-read or identification guides for animals and plants, so Librivox or OverDrive is convenient for classics. I'm not much for reading books in e-formats because it makes my eyes tired, but audio books are good for the daily commute and long trips.
Finished my first classic this year The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann.
It was a great read, it could turn out to be the best read this year.
So, since I need to change my plans for February, I am going to read Crime and Punishment, which I have tried a couple of different times, but not gotten through. I am going to listen to it on audio, which may help.
I was asked about SciFi classics, and I am fine with those.
Anyone interested in my favorites can check out a list I made, here:
>49 fuzzi: Ah, if we're doing SciFi classics, I'll just bang those right out. For this though, I think I'll stick with the fiction classics. I've added another to my list so I think I may be up to 5 this year, which is a number I'm perfectly happy with.
>48 alcottacre: Stasia, I was planning to read Crime and Punishment sometime this year as well. Any other readers?
These are my plans for the next several months:
February - Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
March - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
April - Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
May - Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
June - 1984 by George Orwell
July - The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
August - Call of the Wild by Jack London
September - One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez - I have tried to read this several times, but never made it through
October - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
>54 harrygbutler: I am not sure how I missed reading it a long time ago, Harry. I would be happy for the company!
>55 alcottacre: I was lucky enough to be given a copy for my 7th birthday, and I'm sure I reread it a number of times thereafter, though I didn't keep track of my reading back then. I'll be reading the unabridged book I got then, which is a little the worse for wear but still has a place in my library.
I'm glad to have found the thread! I know I have quite a few on my shelves, so I will see what I can fit in. I'm going to participate in the David Copperfield group read, so that's one for sure.
Others on my shelf:
The Woman in White
Death Comes for the Archbishop
I may join in on The Call of the Wild - I don't think I've ever read it.
I plan to read several classics this year. Some may be re-reads, but others will be first time efforts. I really haven't settled on which ones yet, but I'm sure my moods will show me which ones to hit!
>59 streamsong: Who is doing a David Copperfield group read? That's one I keep putting on my list year after year and then not getting around to it. Ditto The Forsyte Saga and Middlemarch.
I'm also itching for some Jane Austen. I always read at least one every year but last year was the first I didn't since ... ???
And I'd like to finally read something by Wilkie Collins. The Woman in White, maybe.
I'm currently reading Little Women. I'm at part 2, three years later...I've read elsewhere that it is a separate book at this point, is that correct?
>66 fuzzi: It's my understanding that they were originally published as two books: Little Women and Good Wives (further research indicates that the title of Good Wives was the publisher's choice, not Alcott's, though she did submit the book for publication in two volumes, which was more common back then than it is now). In the US, they are mostly published together in a single volume now, though I think in some countries it's more common to publish them in separate volumes.
I've got a couple of long books to read for my f2f book groups. If I can get past them, I'll take a look here to see who is reading what. One of my groups might be reading a Henry James work in April. I'll post when I am sure, in case anyone wants to join me.
>67 foggidawn: thanks. That's what I had also read. I think I have fulfilled my requirement for reading this classic. Onwards.
Late start (as usual) for me. After reading the first couple dozen posts of this thread, I took time out for a little paperwork. Came up with a list of 57 classics I have in The TBR ClosetTM. To me, a classic is a tome penned during or before the 19th century. The list ranges from Euripides and Sophocles through Sterne, Smollett, and Austen to Verne, Zola, and Balzac. Obviously, I am NOT going to attempt reading 57 classics. In fact, I just bailed on Little Women; couldn't like it.
I did rip through The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas pere in January. Written in the mid-19th century, it raises a lot of questions, but it is a page-turner.
Four others on the list I'd like to read this year:
Emma by Jane Austen 
Beowulf as translated by Seamus Heaney [975–1025]
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne 
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne 
>70 weird_O: I read the Count of Monte Cristo a few years ago, loved it. Thinking of a re-read this year but don't know if I'll get to it, too many others to go through first. I'm about to start Emma, I'll be using it as one of my challenge books, but it's not high on my list of Austen's novels.
If you read a book as a child (say at least 30 - 40 years ago) but don't remember anything about it, would you class it as a re-read if you read it again as an adult or just a straight read?
>72 fairywings: I'd probably list it as a "new" read if I didn't recall anything.
I finished Crime and Punishment yesterday. It was a 5-star read for me and I am kicking myself for not having read the book years ago.
So far the classics that had been on my "to read" list that I've covered, thanks to that 20 volume Classic Tales by Famous Authors set, are Rime of the Ancient Mariner and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. That last has been on the list for years, despite my fondness for the horror genre (which it isn't really, but it is thought-provoking on the nature of good and evil in man). I believe that The Odyssey and The Illiad each have their own volume in the set and they're coming up. I haven't read them since college so I suppose a re-read is about due.
>79 fuzzi: I liked it. Not something I dreaded reading in the dark (the obvious hallmark of a good horror story), but the concept of the dual nature of man, and the struggles of Dr. Jekyll as he wrestled with his previously unacknowledged evil side, was a good psychological tale. Have you read it, or is it on your to-read list?
>78 CassieBash: Loved Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I reread it again last year. I was fortunate that my 8th grade English teacher (who was also my neighbor and a good family friend) introduced it to my class along with several other classics. She really took the time to analyze the material and made sure that the class understood what they were reading and the significance of it. I've only had two other literature teachers like that - one in HS and the other in a university science fiction class. All of my other English teachers had very cursory and superficial discussions about the books they assigned.
My granddaughter Claire, a high school senior, is taking a classics course at Lafayette College. Greek plays and such like. She leaves her school and drives to the college, about 8 miles away. After the class, she has to drive back to school, if only to collect her twin sister. They live only six or seven blocks from the college. Early introduction to college coursework.
I finished Belinda by Maria Edgeworth, which was written in 1801, and is mentioned in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey.
I've just started George Eliot's Scenes from Clerical Life, which is a collection of 3 longish stories/novellas that have related characters and settings. November 2019 will be the 200th anniversary of Eliot's birth (born Mary Ann Evans). Scenes from Clerical Life is one of the last 3 major works by Eliot that I have not read, the other two being Felix Holt and Romola. I hope to finish all 3 in this anniversary year.
>86 fuzzi: One of my all-time favorites, but I re-read it recently--actually listened to the audiobook, read by Juliet Stevenson, which is outstanding, should anyone want an audio option.
>90 fuzzi: I probably won't get started until later this week, but I'm looking forward to it! :D
>91 madhatter22: I didn't read any yet, had a headache this weekend, but hope to get started in the next few days.
I might join in here...
I want to read Portrait of a Lady by Henry James and The Three Musketeers by Dumas. I've thrown in Kim by Rudyard Kipling onto my personal list, but not sure if it's a "classic" in the same way.
Of those mentioned, I'm kind of intrigued by Anita's addition of The Man Without Qualities by Musil, and Stendhal's The Red and the Black, which I read for my French course when I was 15/16 and have never revisited. The book group that I almost never have attended is reading Little Dorrit, which is (finally) a book that I haven't read and might be interested in discussing.
I'm reading Middlemarch in May/June for a book club, but I don't think I'll get to it this month. I'll be curious to hear your thoughts though!
>93 Chatterbox: please, join us!
It's a relaxed sort of challenge, just read classics when you decide to, and let us know. :)
Kim is one of Kipling's that I've never even attempted, it might be a good one to put on the list...
>94 jennyifer24: I've started Middlemarch, so I don't want to stop to wait for your book club's month. I'll let you know what I think. So far it reads a bit like a Jane Austen, very wordy with lots of concepts to think about, and many quotes to mull over. I am enjoying it, but it's not going to be a quick read!
Update on Middlemarch: I'm about eleven chapters in and enjoying it, but it's going to be a very slooooooow read, as there's so much to understand and digest in each sentence! And no, it's not boring, not at all.
Another update on Middlemarch: I've noticed that there is a lot of foreshadowing about the characters and yet when you think you know what they are going to do, they do the opposite! I like it when I can't guess what's going to happen.
Still plugging along...
I've only finished Book I of Middlemarch so far. I'd actually read at least through Book II a few years ago, but it's still slower going than I'd remembered. I'm finding myself re-reading a lot of passages, sometimes because the writing is so amazing, more often because I'll read half a page and then realize I have no idea what I just read.
I'm getting into Lydgate's story now, and I seem to remember the last time I tried to read Middlemarch that every time the action moved over to him, I just wanted it to get back to Dorothea.
Moving on ...
>99 madhatter22: I got back to Dorothea, and now am just beyond...
I know what you mean about having to reread not just because my mind wandered but sometimes because the passages are amazing.
Middlemarch update: I am up to chapter 37.
I misspoke: there are only 613 pages, not 700...
A couple nights ago I was distracted by the front cover starting to split off from the spine (it's a paperback), so I took a five minute break from Peter Featherstone's whims to use some strapping/shipping tape to secure the entire spine and both covers.
Exciting life I lead, hmm??
>101 fuzzi: My copy has many pages more with 1019 pages.
Checking if it is the intro & afterword... No those are only 30 pages. The book has 86 chapters and a Finale. Has your book very small print?
I will start in a couple of days.
>101 fuzzi: Mine is an old mass market with 811 pages not including the afterword. Also 86 chapters (in 8 books) and a finale.
Wasn't thinking about my vacation next week. I won't finish before then and will likely want something else while I'm away, but I'll get it done. I was really surprised the first time I tried to read it that I didn't immediately love it and eat it up like I would an Austen/Bronte/Hardy book. I hoped it was just my mood at the time, but nope. (Unless I'm in the same mood. :) I wanted to not be able to put it down, but although I'm enjoying many aspects of it while I'm reading, it's been easy to put down and I keep picking up other things instead.
>102 FAMeulstee: I have a Houghton Mifflin Riverside edition. The book is trade paperback sized, perhaps that is the difference?
The intro is not included in the page count, which starts with the Prelude on page 3, and the first chapter starts on page 5.
>103 madhatter22: I can't say that I can't put it down, but I am not reading anything else (except my Bible) until I am finished.
I am at the halfway point!
Hey! I finished the Seamus Heaney translation of Beowulf. The poem is classic, and it has a worthy translator in Heaney. Even I could follow it. I don't know what sort of literature predates it, but it certainly foreshadows 20th century works like The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.
Heaney's translation has the original Anglo-Saxon displayed verso and the translation recto. In his introduction, he says that in British colleges, lit students had to deal with the Anglo-Saxon original.
Very glad that, finally, I have read it.
I don't like Mr. Casaubon. Period.
However, I have put in a reserve at our local library for the 1994 production of Middlemarch.
How's everyone's Middlemarch read coming along?
I'm less than 100 pages to the end, and it's getting a little intense...
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