Rediscovering classic novels

(Zone 7a)

Atlas Shrugged is not really a Sci-Fi but it could be. There are no dates given in it. The story deals with a woman named Dagny Taggert who, along with others, discovers that inventive people or people who are in places of great power are disappearing and their businesses are being taken over by the government. There is a strike by the people organized by a John Galt, who is attempting to return the power back to the people where it belongs. An interesting concept about how the govenment can take over any way they please, how individuals are pushed aside and how we need these innovators and imaginists to move forward as a society.

It can be long and tedious to some (me, included) but it has a lot to say about individualism and self-happiness, as Pajaritomt stated earlier. Another perspective on how the world could be but shouldn't.

And be warned, if any of you decide to read it. There is a speech given by John Galt in the last section that is 50-60 pages long. Something like that.

I hope all of that makes sense. It's been awhile since I've read it.

Oh, and I love the Harry Potter books. So much fun there.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I have read the first maybe ten pages of Tale of Two Cities--so far so good! Very descriptive, you can really visualize it. Different from what I'm used to, which has lately been reading for information.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I always thought that that was a poor intro to Dickens, but that's what we were all made to read in high school. Later I enjoyed his other books a great deal more, but possibly if I reread it now I'd feel differently. What appeals to a high school kid is different from what turns an adult on!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

GACK- so what is a GOOD intro to Dickens?? I did read something else by hm, on my own, long while ago, may have been Dombey and Son, and liked it.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I think books like David Copperfield and Oliver Twist are more accessible, personally. But I haven't read A Tale of Two Cities since high school, so I may be wrong about that.

Santa Fe, NM

I was lurking and I have to admit that I love Dickens. Especially David Copperfield. Jane Austen is one of my fav's and Oscar Wilde, " The Importance of Being Earnest ". Or is it "Ernest"? Hilariously funny either way. I also loved the Iliad and the Odyssey, but especially the Iliad. Human nature has not changed much. Homer describes an older man, father of somebody, I forget, But the old man is in his tent while the battle rages around him and he goes in to a lengthy story about some battle in his past, right in the middle of everything! The warriors must be polite and listen to this rambling before they can go out to fight some more. I find it pretty comical and so exactly like what my 90 year old F.I.L. would do. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which I may be mis-spelling, is also one of my favorites. "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" are also favorites. And Gabriel Garcia Marquez " One Hundred Years of Solitude". Too many to think of!

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

One Hundred Years of Solitude! Great choice roybird!

Santa Fe, NM

Glad you think so, Dahlia. Not everyone likes it. I also like Isabel Allende; especially "Tales of Eva Luna" short stories. But, I like almost everything she has written.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

I love that book and the rain. I'm not familiar with Isabel Allende. Thanks for the heads up on a new author for me. I just googled her and she has some very interesting works!

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Isabelle Allende is a fabulous writer, but sometimes her descriptions of brutality in Chile's coup are so brutal I can't read them. She also has delightful light descriptions of life before the coup which are wonderful. I have only read House of the Spirits, but would like to read others. Also love Marquez's book, One Hundred Years of Solitude.
I find Dickens quite readable now, but really struggled with Oliver Twist and David Copperfield as a young teenager. I think I just hadn't had enough life experience and vocabulary to understand them. I did enjoy the stories and I learned a huge amount of vocabulary from them. Later I did the same with Vanity Fair and Jane Austen's books, especially Pride and Prejudice. I credit these books with teaching me to read and think.
But as an adult these books are easier to read and enjoy.

(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

I mentioned this on an earlier thread, but one of my most favorite books was an auto-biography by Allende, named 'Paula' for her daughter.

Santa Fe, NM

Oh, yes. That was a lovely book. But they might not be classics. "Little Women" might be a classic book, though. I liked the book when I was young but got annoyed that Amy, the artist, was made to be a rather shallow character compared to Jo, the writer. It seemed unfair to artists, I thought.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Little Women is, indeed, a classic though it is more for young girls than adults. Adults often find it maudlin. But it has stood the test of time with young girls. And wouldn't the Pooh books be classics? They are read and reread by countless generations and even adults enjoy them.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I think the Pooh books are definitely classics. They are wonderful. My kids and grandkids have loved them, and their rhythms still come to mind unbidden -

I think I am a muffin man - I haven't got a bell
I haven't got the kinds of things that muffin people sell
Perhaps I am a postman, no, I think I am a tram
I'm feeling very funny and I don't know WHO I am
So - roundabout and roundabout and roundabout I go
All around the table, the table in the nursery
Roundabout and roundabout and roundabout I go
(from A.A. Milne's "Busy")

That kept going through my head years ago when I had a new job with very poorly defined responsibilities....

The classics are like that, though; they're universal and can fit so many situations!

No. San Diego Co., CA(Zone 10b)

My DH is a Milne fan and he introduced me to his books. :-) I missed a lot of the 'classic' books for children, or just don't remember them. I love the way he reads them.

Books I seldom see mentioned are historical fiction, specifically about the American Revolution. Kenneth Roberts has a series of books that are educational, interesting and exciting to read.

The Winds of War is also a good series by Herman Wouk.

Exodus by Leon Uris. He wrote other books about pivotal events in history. Mila 18 is hard to read because of the subject matter, but is one of the books I will never forget.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Unfortunately, Exodus is strongly biased in favor of the Israelis and is not an accurate picture of what went on -- exciting though it may be. Don't know about the rest of his books. I would not consider Exodus a classic. I have never heard of the Kenneth Roberts series. I have heard of the Winds of War but I haven't read it. It is supposed to be good, as I recall. A Classic? Someone else would have to answer that.

Santa Fe, NM

Historical fiction? James Michener (sp?) wrote a bunch of it that I liked at one time. But, I'm not thinking of it as classic. I like E.L. Doctrow . With historical fiction I'm not sure how unbiased it has to be. My guess is that it generally isn't. Which is why it is fiction and not history. Altho, not all history is unbiased by any means either! : )

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

My favorites of Leon Uris were Haj and Trinity. I wouldn't say he is unbiased but as roybird says its 'fiction' not history.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

I did read Trinity by Uris and found it exciting but was extremely unimpressed by his narrator who turned out to be narrating from the grave. Seemed a little Deus ex machina to me. I do say that Uris could make a plot move, but I am not a fan of his. I don't think historical fiction has to be factual, but it shouldn't be completely contrary to the facts either.
On piece of historical fiction that i absolutely adored was Mary Renault's The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea. She based it on the change from matriarchal society to patriarchal society in the area that is now known as Greece. There is no way to prove that things happened as she said they did in her novels, but she bases them on what is known and then uses her imagination from there. She didn't change the basic facts -- as far as I know. Uris, I think plays fast and loose with the truth.
I would say Mary Renault's work is closer to a classic, but I don't know that even hers is what I would call a classic. Of course, Shakespeare felt free to change the facts all around in his plays to please the royal ruling families, and we don't hold it against him. On the other hand that isn't what made him great either.

(Zone 7a)

I've been thinking about picking some Hemmingway again. I voted myself down on the Ayn Rand book. LOL Too depressing. Now there's a man who could tell a story.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Loved Hemmingway -- The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom The Bell Tools, To Have and Have Not, and many short stories, particularly "The Short and Happy Life of Fransis Macomber". I love the ambiance of Spain and France in the 20's and even read his bull fighting treatise Afficionado when I was in Spain in the '60s. I tried to understand the bull fight and attended many. I sort of got it, but finally decided I wouldn't cross the street to see a bull fight any more. Love the outfits and the choreography though. And a good bullfighter is very talented. I still like it better than football, though.

No. San Diego Co., CA(Zone 10b)

Quoting:
Unfortunately, Exodus is strongly biased in favor of the Israelis


I see, and that makes it wrong why? Sorry, I couldn't resist. I'm obviously on the wrong side of things here.

Kenneth Roberts wrote Northwest Passage - if that isn't a classic, I don't know what the definition is.

(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

Me, myself, I prefer the truth to bias, no matter which side of an issue I'm on.

Hardly classics, but the Phillipa Gregory series about the Tudor queens seems pretty accurate. I got sick of the court intrigue so I didn't continue the series.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

Paj that is such a koinkidink. I bought Afficionado in Avignon and read it on a train heading to Barcalona to learn about bullfighting. Great book. Although it helped me learn to understand it, I only went once. It just wasn't my cup of tea.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

"koinkidink" really should be an official dictionary word!!!!!!!! I love it!

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

sallyg I just pencil out words that don't work (or just seem plain silly) and substitute my own in my Oxford and my Webster. As far as I know there are no dictionary police (tee hee). I pencil cuz I want to be sure to use original entries when talking to international folks with english as a second language. Go ahead. Try it with your dictionary. You'll like it ^_^

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

And we haven't mentioned the Jane Austin novels from Pride and Prejudice on. Who can avoid loving these very tasty novels in a very prudish time. They are definite classics!

(Zone 7a)

Definitely. I love Jane Austin! All of them!

I had the dubious pleasure of reading a twist on P&P. Pride and Predudice and Zombies. Only for those who think zombies are funny. Which I do. ^_^

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

There are many excellent redos of Pride and Prejudice. I rather like the one from India, Bride and Prejudice. That's one of the great things about classics they can be translated into modern times very easily.
One book along those lines, though I hesitate to call it a classic, is Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres. They also made it into a film. About halfway throw this very well crafted story I realized that I knew the story. It was King Lear set in modern times. Still a good story.
Another example of this is the old film and book, The Forbidden Planet. As a child I loved it. As an adult, I was told that it was a modernization of Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare. I smacked myself on the forehead when I realized that was the case.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I read A Thousand Acres-- and didn't know the King Lear story (still don't). A T A was good reading but I was pretty depressed at the end. I sold it at a yard sale and wanted to warn the nice looking lady who bought it (but didn't --just took my 25cents ) I guess I slept thru the part of English where stories were 'redone' Although West Side Story/ Romeo and Juliet is obvious for me to 'get'

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

I am not sure they teach much about King Lear in high school. Yes, the Lear story is depressing, but its themes are universal -- a father favoring one child over another, turning over his kingdom to his children and then trying to manage it anyway and the resulting family chaos. This story recurs among humans over and over again. This is more a cautionary tale than a fun one. No love story. I probably wouldn't know it very well except for the fact that I love theater and have seen numerous productions of the Shakespeare's version. It is actually one of my favorites, but frustrating because you just want to kick the old man in the rear for his all-too-human errors.
I also loved Smiley's version of it.

Santa Fe, NM

I was thinking of Jane Smiley, too. In the context of historical fiction. She wrote a huge, long book called either "the Icelanders" or "the Greenlanders" which I did slog through at one time but don't remember much of it. I did like it while I was reading it. She is one of my favorite writers.

(Zone 7a)

About halfway through watching Bridget Jones's Diary, I realized I was watching another version of P&P.

Maybe that's the definition of "Classic". When a story can follow us into the future and pass us into the next generation and still mean something.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

That certainly is part of the definition. Huckleberry Finn is sort of an American Odyssey, though it isn't to directly similar to the Odyssey. James Joyce's Ulysses is a real parallel to the Odyssey. It is not the easiest book to read, but is beautiful if you can get through it. Believe me, I didn't do it by myself. I read it in a class with lots of help from the teacher, but it was a very enjoyable experience that way.
Oh, and how did I forget Don Quixote as a classic? He is the model for Man of La Mancha and a truly timeless story.

(Zone 7a)

Great love stories are always a classic.

You know, I don't think I've ever read Ulysses.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Well, I don't think many people have read Ulysses. It isn't very accessible until you catch on to what Joyce was trying to do. It is all written in stream -of -consciousness style, which I like, but each chapter has a different character's stream-of-consciousness and portrays a different character from the Odyssey. I would never have caught on if I hadn't read it with a teacher. Once you know that, it gets much easier to read and one can appreciate the beauty of the language. Joyce was a great master of language.

Agreed great love stories are classics -- like Anna Karenina.

(Zone 7a)

Okay, that description makes my brain hurt. ^_^

That one I have read. Loved it. Speaking of Tolstoy, I found War and Peace another book that was wonderful but difficult to get through.

Dracula is another classic tale...

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Yes, both of those are wonderful. I haven't read War and Peace but plan to when I have plenty of time -- maybe on a vacation? I haven't read Dracula but I believe it is a classic also Mary Shelley's Frankenstein definitely still lives. I forget who wrote Dracula.

(Zone 7a)

Bram Stoker. My mind tends toward the dark side. The imagery in it is beautiful and is also a love story.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

My DH loves both Dracula and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I personally don't go for that kind of thing. Just chicken, I think.

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