The Only Way Ahead…..the Classics Way!

It’s the Classic Spin time again! Yup! The Classic’s Club has organized another Spin and the rules are as always simple –

  • Pick 20 Classics of your choice
  • On Monday, i.e. May 20th, the Club will pick a number
  • You read the book that you have marked against the number through May and June

The big question is will I do it again? I mean in the last club Spin, I got Madame Bovary which I detested the first time I read it, so may years ago; but with loads of encouragement and support from fellow club members, bloggers and readers, I managed to prod through the book, a second time – net result I still did not like it!

So will I do it again? The answer is …..Of course!! Yes!!! Most definitely!

There is no denying it’s a lot of fun. Even if I did not like the book, I got some wonderful perspective and engaged in some marvelous debates about it. Most importantly, if it was not for the Spin, I would have never read that book again since it was part of my private dreading to read it again list!

Now for the list – here goes….

  1. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  2. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  4. A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
  5. Jane Eyre  by Charlotte Bronte
  6. Great Expectation by Charles Dickens
  7. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  8. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  9. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
  10. The Way of  all Flesh by Samuel Butler
  11. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  12. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
  13. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  14. The Moonstone by Willkie Collins
  15. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  16. Wives and Daughter by Elizabeth Gaskell
  17. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn      Waugh
  18. The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell
  19. My Antonia by Willa Carther
  20. A Farewell to the Arms by Ernest Hemmingway

Let’s see what faith holds on Monday. I have edited m y previous list a bit and put down a few more books that were in my to-read-but-never-got-around-to –it list.

Can’t wait for Monday!

The Classic Attempt…..

This blog is completely inspired by The Classics Club ….I am not sure why I venture into these challenges, considering I fail most of the time….I mean I am not a person who really thrives on short notices or deadlines! I felt really weird writing the last sentence, I mean the other me – you know the ‘Project Manager’ me – the Corporate wheeler-dealer me,  really thrives and succeeds on deadlines and pressure tactics; in fact the tighter the leash, the better I will succeed. But when it comes to this me – you know the blogging-reading round the clock-with clueless love live-talking endless nonsense me, well, I just so badly fail. I could not complete the NaNoWriMo; I could not complete any of reading challenges, though as God be my witness, I read enough, so this me – the one I consider the real me, does not come out gloriously in these  events. So why do it again – like knowingly set yourself for a fall? Well I guess, you cannot teach an old dog new tricks – if there is a cliff, I will climb to the very top of it, only to fall head long!! Yeah! Yeah!! I know I will live through this!

Anyway after all the procrastination, I amble back to the main subject. So The Classics Club has a Spin list – what one does is, list 20 classics in a random order. They could be a list of books you love reading or never finished or dread starting. On Monday, 18th February, The Classics Club will announce a number – whatever number is declared, you read the book that you have marked against this number by April 1st 2013.  The ideal list is of course a mix of all the above – books you love, books you have been planning to read forever, but never got down to it and naturally, books that you absolutely dread and so on and so forth.

Therefore without any more ado, I present my list –

  1. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  2. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  3. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  4. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
  5. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  6. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  7. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  9. Great Expectation by Charles Dickens
  10. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  11. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
  12. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  13. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  14. Madam Bovary by Gustav Flaubert
  15. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  16. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
  17. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  18. The Moonstone by Willkie Collins
  19. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  20. Wives and Daughter by Elizabeth Gaskell

I love Austen, Swift and really want to read Gaskell, Burgess and Collins. I shudder at the thought of Woolf or Eliot – never quite developed a taste for them. I have been planning to go back to Flaubert for some time – especially since my sister told me to read closely in the details, because apparently, the beauty of the book lies in those minute details. The same holds true of Anna Karenina – did not like it the first couple of times I read it, but since reading Stefanie’s thoughts on the book, I have been curious to give it another try, though War and Peace remains my favorite Tolstoy book and would love to go over it again!

To end, I am waiting with bated breath for the number draw – again, I wonder why I am doing this? But maybe this time because of the contest, I will have the patience to finish The Awakening and in my mind list, it would be one down! 😉

History and Story….

I love history and I love literature. What happens when you mix the two together – Historical novels!

To say I enjoy historical novels is a subtle understatement. I am practically fanatical about them…..A lot of people, mostly the same type about whom I referred in my previous blog, often are incredulous that I can spend so much time in reading about something that does not even denote modern times. I am often flooded with such inane questions like “History…but it’s boring!” or better yet “What’s the point of reading about things long dead?” Duh! Have you never heard that man learns from his past?????!!!!!

I live in the modern world; I am part of this reality! I do enjoy reading about novels set in this reality with all its gizmos of cell phones, internet and the works. But the past has a special charm…. It is the past, the time that has gone by, that really invigorates my mind’s eye. It’s wonderful to set yourself free and let your imagination run wild in a time of horse drawn chariots, courtly living and the Lords and Ladies and all the nine yards!  I enjoy the mannerisms, traditions, costumes and of course the sense of history so different from today’s world.

If you really want to go back in time to the very seed of historical fiction, there is Homer who wrote about the Trojan War in Iliad and the adventure of Odysseus in The Odyssey. There is of course the oral tradition of Mahabharata, though conventionally people consider Vyas the author of this epic that documents the besides many other things the war between the Pandavas and Kauravas in 10th century BCE (the time period of the war is open for debate). A lot of scholars have argued that the first modern historical novel was created by Sir Walter Scott. I can believe that as I try to rack my brains and cannot come up with any such writings prior to Rob Roy, Ivanhoe and Waverly! I am not too fond of Waverly (I know! Even I cannot believe it at times that I do not like something that such a milestone!) I enjoyed Ivanhoe, but my favourite is Rob Roy. I love the Scottish history with all its swashbuckling and angry rebellions and revenge by the subaltern. It’s a classic tale and I am enamoured of it. After Sir Scott, the flood gates are opened. We have the very famous and now slightly trite Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notra Dame” set in Middle Ages immortalizing Quasimodo’s love for Esmeralda. The mammoth work and my personal favourite Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” detailing the life and times of the Russian aristocracy on the eve of Napoleon’s attack and its aftermath. (Yes! I did read the complete book and yes I did enjoy it and yes I have read it more than once and yes I am nerd and yes I am in love with Prince Andre!) Then there is James Fennimore Copper and his “The Last of the Mohicans”. I am not particularly fond of it, but it’s considered a masterpiece by many with its immortal love story of Uncas and Cora (Yes! I know Hawkeye is more important, but I like to think of Uncas and Cora’s love as ethereal!) set during the Seven Years war. Then there is good old Mr Dickens with his more famous “A tale of two cities” (I think his other novels are far far better than this one) following the lives of Lucie Manette, Charles Darnay and Sidney Carton during the French Revolution. He also wrote Barnby Rudge, which is my personal favourite about the simple-minded Barnaby and his implicated involvement in the Gordon Riots and the parallel tale of Joe Willet and Dolly Vardens and Edward Chester and Emma Haerdales. Alexander Dumas also produced copious volumes of historical fiction, the most famous being the D’Artagnan series – The Three Musketeers,  Twenty years after, The Man in the Ironmask! I am not particularly fond of any of them, though I do feel the plot of the Ironmask is more gripping and sensational. But then Dumas’s tales are sensational! (I mean he wrote The Count of Monte Cristo….nothing is more sensational after that!)

So much for the history of historical literature. In the next blog, which will be in continuation of this one, I will list some of my all-time favourite historical novels by modern-day authors.