Friday, March 9, 2012

The Classics Club

Jillian over at A Room of One's Own has started this little (ha) project called The Classics Club. (***Update: now at The Classics Club Blog***)  I've decided to join at the lowest level - 50 books in 5 years. Most of my choices are novels, but there are a couple plays and some nonfiction. She encourages everyone to give themselves a prize at the halfway or endpoint, but the only thing I'm thinking I'll do is contemplate a long bubble bath. I'll probably need it!

Goal Date: March 9th, 2017(!)
Most looking forward to:  Lady Susan, Jane Austen. I actually am not much of an Austen fan, but this one sounds really interesting.
Most scared to attempt:  The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov. The Russians scare me.

Here's my list:
I've reordered this list grouped roughly by date after Amy commented that my list skewed towards modern classics. I noticed a bit, but not completely, so I thought I'd look up the publication dates just for curiosity.  So yeah - it definitely skews modern, although I'd argue that anything pre-1950 should probably be separated out from anything more recent. But whatever! There's always these kinds of discussions when it comes to choosing "classics."

The Ancients
  • The Iliad, Homer (8th century BCE)
  • The Odyssey, Homer (8th century (BCE)
  • Metamorphoses, Ovid (CE 8) 
Pretty Darn Old
  • Belinda, Maria Edgeworth (1801) 
  • Mathilda, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1820, posthumous pub. 1959)  
  • Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë (1847) 
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë (1848)  
  • Narrative of Sojourner Truth, Sojourner Truth (1850) 
  • Cranford, Elizabeth Gaskell (1851) 
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)
  • The Mill on the Floss, George Eliot (1860)  
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs (1861)
  • Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases, Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1892)  
  • Up from Slavery, Booker T. Washington (1901) 
  • The Golden Bowl, Henry James (1904) 
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel, Emmuska Orczy (1905)
  • The Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. Dubois (1903)
  • The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton (1920) 
  • An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser (1925) 
  • In Our Time, Ernest Hemingway (1925) 
  • Orlando, Virginia Woolf (1928)
  • A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf (1929)
  • Death in the Afternoon, Ernest Hemingway (1932) 
  • Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier (1938) 
  • The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank (1944, posthumous pub. 1947) 
  • Black Boy, Richard Wright (1945) 
  • The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway (1952)
  • Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury (1953)
  • Palace of Desire, Naguib Mahfouz (1957)
  • Sugar Street, Naguib Mahfouz (1957)
  • Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov (1962)
  • Silent Spring, Rachel Carson (1962)
  • A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway (1960?, posthumous pub. 1964) 
  • Islands in the Stream, Ernest Hemingway (1951, posthumous pub. 1970) 
  • The Garden of Eden, Ernest Hemingway (1961, posthumous pub. 1986)  
  • The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov (1966) 
  • The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison (1970)
  • The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Ernest J. Gaines (1971) 
  • Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison (1977)
  • Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko (1977) 
  • If On a Winter's Night a Traveler, Italo Calvino (1979)
  • Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie (1981) 
  • Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1985)
  • Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987) 
  • The Color Purple, Alice Walker (1982)
  • The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989) 
Pretty New, but hey, it's Gabriel García Márquez: 
  • Memories of My Melancholy Whores, Gabriel García Márquez (2004)


RebeccaK said...

Good luck! And the Russians really aren't so bad. The classics I dread most are 20th century Modernist stuff (Ulysses, lots of Woolf). I'm in a classics book club in Ann Arbor that picks books from Boxall's 1001 Books to Read Before You Die, and I like it because there are lots of books from the last 20 years.

MJ said...

@RebeccaK: Ha! I will not even read any Joyce. Nope. Not after Portrait of an Artist, which may be the only book never finished after being assigned it in school.

I've had bad luck with the Russians (looking at you, Tolstoy), but people rave about The Master and Margarita, so I decided to put it on the list.

Allie said...

Make sure that when you tackle the Russians you look into translations. That can make a huge difference!

MJ said...

@Aliie: Yes, I certainly will. I've learned my lesson trying on bad translations! I don't know how I even made it through Anna Karenina.

stujallen said...

good luck some wonderful choices there ,all the best stu

Jillian said...

Hi MJ! I just wanted to stop by and check out your list. I'm especially intrigued by Lady Susan, too. I feel like it will be different from the other Austen books (all of which I have loved to date.)

Cheers to you, and very best wishes with this! :D

- jill

Caro said...

I love your list! I'm so happy to see Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall in it. So much love for both of them.

ImageNations said...

I've read only three books on your list. I have a number of Jane Austen's books to read and I needed the right opportunity. This sounds like the best platform to tackle.

Besides, my issue is what is a classic? For instance, I never thought any of Morrison's book is (yet) a classic. lol. What makes one say a book is a classic. I don't think it is mere quality but quality that stands the test of time and what is this time range?

MJ said...

@Caro: Thanks! I'm actually a bit nervous about those two, so I appreciate the encouragement.

@Nana: That's always a question when it comes to the classics. For me, most of them are older books, but not always. Some books become classics rather quickly, say, when they win a big prize. It's like they instantly become part of the "canon." I think some authors, like Morrison, write things that you "know" right away are destined to be classics - they're just that powerful, that enduring.

I definitely encourage you to join the club! It looks like its going to be fun, and a good way to focus on both short and longer term reading goals.

Rob said...

Sadly the only book I've read on your list is Fahrenheit 451, but it was fantastic.

I've been dipping into the classics more this last year, and it's been good fun. I'm thinking I might join this Classics Club as well.

ImpossibleA said...

Silko's Ceremony is amazing. Wonderfully lyrical writing.

Amy said...

You seem to tilt toward modern classics. I'm more the opposite,although I've recently discovered Ishigura (LOVED Floating World), and have put Remains of the Day on my list also.

MJ said...

@ImpossibleA: I've heard such good things about that one! I'm looking forward to reading it.

@Amy: I do want to read more of the ancients, but I didn't want to reach for more than 50. Plus, I wanted to keep the list split evenly between men and women, which is hard to do when you start really going back in time.

But yes, the list probably does skew modern. I had to put some Toni Morrison on there, since I've recently fallen in love with her writing. And I have a separate goal to read all of Hemingway's novels by the time I'm 30, so this list is doing double duty.

Diana said...

Great list! I'll also be reading Belinda for The Classics Club. I'm looking forward to reading Jane Austen's contemporary and seeing how the two writers compare.

Amy said...

Have you finished any yet? Your list is one of the most interesting to me--it's got many that I haven't heard of.

Fanda said...

Great list, MJ! Talking about Russians, have you tried Doctor Zhivago? I was scared at first, but I can enjoy it on the progress, and in the end it's certainly a beautiful work. To tell the truth, there are a lot of things (the politic escalation, the ideology) that I don't quite understand, but overall I can get what the author meant to say to us.

Anyway..good luck with your project!

Her Royal Orangeness said...

Ooooh....Love in the Time of Cholera! I adore that book! You have a great list with lots of diversity. Enjoy, and good luck. :)

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Your list is so organized!! Jealous. ;) I'm definitely down for a readalong of Room of One's Own. I tried reading it several years ago and gave up on it but think now that I'm older I'm ready to tackle it again.

MJ said...

@Her Royal Orangeness: Thanks! I tried to mix it up.

@Trish: Ha! It didn't start out so organized - I went back later and sorted it out. We'll have to schedule a good time to A Room of One's Own. I should probably go track down a copy...