Thursday, June 27, 2013

Classics on my To-Read List

The Classics were some of the first works in literature. They have inspired other writers and are the reason we have books here today. I have read Princess Bride, How to Kill a Mockingbird, Jane Eyre, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, The Hobbit, and the Diary of Anne Frank. These are books I still need to read. I will be reading those during the Back in Time Challenge which will hopefully take place in December-January. What are some classics on your TBR list? Comment below!

A Tale of Two Cities
The Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... These well-known and loved lines begin Dickens's most exciting novel, set during the bloodiest moments of the French Revolution. When former aristocrat Charles Darnay learns that an old family servant needs his help, he abandons his safe haven in England and returns to Paris. But once there, the Revolutionary authorities arrest him not for anything he has done, but for his rich family's crimes. Also in danger: his wife, Lucie, their young daughter, and her aged father, who have followed him across the Channel.

This is Dickens’s only novel that lacks comic relief, and one of only two that are not set in nineteenth-century England. It is also unusual in lacking a primary central character. London and Paris are the real protagonists in this tale, much as the cathedral was the 'hero' of Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris.

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners--one of the most popular novels of all time--that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the "most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author's works," and Eudora Welty in the twentieth century described it as "irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be."

The Great Gatsby

The Great GatsbyIn 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--" Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

It's also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby's quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means--and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. "Her voice is full of money," Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel's more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy's patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.

Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451
Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires...

The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning ... along with the houses in which they were hidden.

Guy Montag enjoyed his job. He had been a fireman for ten years, and he had never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs nor the joy of watching pages consumed by flames... never questioned anything until he met a seventeen-year-old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid.

Then he met a professor who told him of a future in which people could think... and Guy Montag suddenly realized what he had to do.
Alice and Wonderland
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-GlassWeary of her storybook, one "without pictures or conversations," the young and imaginative Alice follows a hasty hare underground--to come face-to-face with some of the strangest adventures and most fantastic characters in all of literature.

The Ugly Duchess, the Mad Hatter, the weeping Mock Turtle, the diabolical Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat--each more eccentric than the last--could only have come from that master of sublime nonsense, Lewis Carroll.

In penning this brilliant burlesque of children's literature, Carroll has written a farcical satire of rigid Victorian society, an arresting parody of the fears, anxieties, and complexities of growing up.

Carroll was one of the few adult writers to successfully enter the children's world of make-believe: where the impossible becomes possible, the unreal--real, and where the height of adventure is limited only by the depths of imagination.


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