Fair warning: 1) This isn’t meant to be offensive or dismissive; 2) I got distracted and went off on a tangent; 3) This is probably not the most well thought out post I’ve ever written; and 4) I think these types of dialogue building questions are important and as I mention near the end, this is just a gut response.
“Dead white guys” are all too often the focus when it comes to discussions of the Western Canon. We’d love to see members highlight classic works or authors that are overlooked in the canon that deserve recognition. Pick one/or more and tell us how their work resonates for our century and/or for you. As always, you determine what is a “classic” in your point of view, including works from 2000+, and works from anywhere in the world. // Or, if you have trouble thinking of an author/work to highlight, you could simply discuss the topic itself: What is “The Western Canon” — have you thought about who/what determines which works are recognized from human history?”
As someone who is pale (white), male (born), and will one day be stale (old) not to mention western (American), I’m not sure how to think about this question. I do completely understand the necessity of asking the question and the vital importance of broadening the definition of classics, but for some reason the way the question is phrased it got under my pale skin.
As with my other monthly posts I’ve taken a two (almost three) month hiatus from participating. However, I figured a new year, a new time to try again!
For January the hosts of the Classics Club have chosen another user submitted question:
“Which character from classic literature is most important or influential to you and why? Or which character do you most despise and why?”
Now once again I have to ask why didn’t they chose an easier question! Even if I limit myself solely to those Classics on my list, or even more so those I’ve read only since starting the project I’m still hard pressed to narrow down my choice.
First, HAPPY NEW YEARS EVE! Not that you’re reading this on NYE, but I’m scheduling it to post on New Years Eve So YAY! I hope you’ve all had fun holidays and time spent with friends and family! I know I have and am exhausted but so glad to have the time with my family.
My Aunt had twins in September and I met them in Oct, but got to spend more time with them over the holidays!
I flew two hours just to drive five more hours, but at least the drive was beautiful.
As was the image I woke up to. Spending Christmas in the mountains is definitely worth the ridiculous travelling.
Second, as with last year I just want to thank all of you that read and interact with me on my little spot of the internet. Those of you that blog with me are amazing and make life difficult by talking about all of these amazing books that I want to read. I can’t believe I’ve stuck with this blog as long as I have, but you all definitely make it worth it for me! I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings!
And with this book I completed ALL of my reading challenges this year! I will do a wrap up post (year, challenge and month) on either the 31st or 1st, but for the record this was the 11th book of the Back to the Classics Challenge, the 6th book (but 8th counted – two were double) for the Tea and Books Reading Challenge and the 25th Mount TBR book!
But what is MOST shocking is how much I enjoyed this novel. There were portions I hated that I think were decisions of the translator and there were definitely parts that were beyond boring (the war parts, obviously), but overall I actually am glad I read this book and the investment of just over three weeks was definitely worth it. I’m not going to lie and say that I was excited about this novel and I won’t even say that it was easy, but I was a bit confused after reading this in the forward:
“The first readers of War and Peace were certainly surprised, but often also bewildered and even dismayed by the book. They found it hard to identify the main characters, to discover anything like a plot, to see any connection between episodes, to understand the sudden leaps from fiction to history, from narration to philosophizing. There seemed to be no focus, no artistic unity to the work, no real beginning, and no resolution. It was as if the sheer mass of detail overwhelmed any design Tolstoy might have tried to impose on it.” (loc. 140)
I didn’t think that the novel was that confusing. I can definitely see where the characters names are confusing! The introduction discusses the multitude of ways a character’s name can be modified and that did cause me to stop a few times but if I kept reading the context clues almost immediately told me who Tolstoy referred to.
I planned to talk about how I wish I could say it is the romance that draws me obsessively to this novel, and in a way it is, but ultimately I know it is something much darker than that. For me this novel’s draw is its darkness, it’s the depth and light absorbing pit of Heathcliff’s devotion to his plans, no matter who they harm or what they require, throughout the years to achieve his ends. I can only imagine what this reveals about my personality and my own decisions in life.
As much as I am drawn to Pride and Prejudice (and Jane Austen in general) for its whimsy and lightness, I can’t help but appreciate and truly resonate with the depths of despair and the tortuousness all three Brontë sisters write about. And I don’t know why, it’s not like I’ve had a tragic love story. I mean sure I’ve had my fair share of unrequited love stories (more often than not), but I know that I’ll get over them and eventually find someone who loves me for me and I love them for them and we just click, but for some reason these darker novels resound with me on a deeper level. It’s as if they touch a part of me that I know is there but am too afraid to even consider bringing to the surface out of fear or terror of what I might actually feel if I let myself.