It is time for a year-long update of my classic reading.
After double-checking my 'read' bookshelf on Goodreads, I updated my original Classics Club list from January 2013. I have officially read 18 classics from my list. One might think my list is shrinking, but no... because I did not have immediate access to specific novels on my original list, I have made a number of additions. I went from 66 to 78 books, so I have still have 60 to finish by January 2018.
|Death Comes for the Archbishop|
Next I read Cather's Song of the Lark which turned out to be my favorite of her three novels. Song of the Lark is about the role of the artist, Thea Kronborg, and her growth. Believe me, I would prefer to read Song of the Lark any day over Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I'm sure there is some kind of amazing literary paper possibilities in comparing and contrasting the themes/ideas found in these two novels.
After so much American literature, I was jonesing for some British lit.and who better to turn to than one of the Bronte sisters. I'm not as familiar with Anne's work as I am with Emily or Charlotte's, so I dug right into Agnes Grey. I hesitate to say I was disappointed with Agnes Grey. It feels like heresy, but I was just a wee bit let down. Like any other Brit. lit. fan, I love a good governess story, but this one was a tad on the milk toast side. I hope the Tenant of Wildfell Hall is better than Agnes Grey.
I moved to a bit of British historical fiction in Katherine by Anya Seton. Coincidentally, I read this novel at the same time I was teaching Chaucer, so I had an enhanced view of Chaucer's life and secret love and his political and social landscape. Nothing helps render the crazy genealogy of Britain's monarchs like a good love story.
At this time of the school year I gave my students an option to read Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy which made me remember a colleague telling me that students love reading The Mayor of Casterbridge. She told me it is a shorter read than Tess of the d'Urbervilles and more interesting than Jude. Unfortunately, I can't offer my students the option of The Mayor of Casterbridge because I only have copies of Jude in my book closet. So, while a whopping total of two of my students read Jude (others opted for Crime and Punishment, East of Eden, and Invisible Man), I listened to The Mayor of Casterbridge on my work commute. At the close of the novel, I would say I concur with my colleague. There is hardly any downtime in the plot of The Mayor of Casterbridge. It moves swiftly, for Victorian literature, from one conflict to another. It would be a nice primer for Thomas Hardy. Still, Tess is my favorite Hardy.
Finally, I rounded out the end of the 2014 school year with Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. For some reason, I pictured the movie The Swiss Family Robinson when I looked at the title. There is no other movie to make one want a tree house like Swiss Family Robinson, so I figured I would love this novel.The only discernible difference that I see between the movie and the novel is Robinson Crusoe is about one fellow shipwrecked and surviving on an island and The Swiss Family Robinson is about an entire family shipwrecked and surviving on an island. Oh, the lists and details and lists and details I endured to make it to the end of this novel. This wretched novel will only be of use if I am stranded on an island. One element that reminded me of the movie Cast Away with Tom Hanks is that Robinson Crusoe talked to his parrot much like Tom Hanks' character Chuck Noland talks to Wilson the volleyball. That is it - that is all I have to say about Robinson Crusoe.
So, I read about 10 classic novels in the past year (not counting the novels I read for my English classes). My favorite novels are Song of the Lark, Middlemarch, and Remains of the Day. I will re-visit these novels at some point and do a bit of research on them.
Now - on to Shirley....