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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2011: My year of reading classics

It was a decision made of centrifugal force: I had started reading two classics late in December, I finished them in January, along with three more classics. So now, with this impetus at work, what should I now do but make 2011 my year for reading classics? I don't swear they'll be only classics that I read; maybe just mostly classics. If Laurie R. King publishes another Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes this spring, I'll have to read it. But other than that--classics.

They don't have to be canonical, though. Could be classics of their genres, such as the Dorothy Sayers mystery I listened to last weekend while cleaning the sewing room. (For the two or three people who know that I began my first blog in 2007 with cleaning my sewing room: no it's still not done.)

So what have I read? This is what I've read:

Anna Karenina / Leo Tolstoi (the new translation.) I found it in the Goodwill while Emily was looking for old Babysitter Club books and started reading it to pass the time, and couldn't put it down.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn / Mark Twain.  For the Classics Revisited discussion group. Read it simultaneously with Anna Karenina, and yes they are thematically related, don't laugh. In AK, Levin discovers that a moral sense is innate: if you live in accordance with it, you are happy and content in the world. If you do not, as Anna does not, your character degrades and you finish by destroying yourself. Huck Finn learns, as he wanders off to the woods to think things over, just as Levin does, to listen to his innate moral sense even when the "good" people in society would say he's wicked or mistaken.

Emma / Jane Austen. I started reading this in serial emails from www.DailyLit.com until I got thoroughly absorbed in it, then I switched to book form and finished it. Now I have only Mansfield Park left to read, and then we'll all be Janeites together and it's all feasting and fun.

Frankenstein / Mary Shelley  Listened to B. J. Harris read this on Classic Tales podcasts, and what a marvelous job he does!

Clouds of Witness / Dorothy Sayers.  As stated, a classic mystery, and a thumping good read, featuring Lord Peter Wimsey, than whom no one pokes about and solves a murder in better style, don't you know--eh what, old thing? (Pop Quiz: And what Bible verse does this title make reference to? Correct--Hebrews 12:1 "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us..." )

And what am I reading now? These:
Mansfield Park / Jane Austen (by serial email from DailyLit)
The Deerslayer / James Fenimore Cooper (one copy at home and one at work so I don't have to keep toting it back and forth)
The Mysterious Affair at Styles / Agatha Christie,  another very classic mystery, read to me by the incomparable B. J. Harris.

On deck:
Murders in the Rue Morgue | Mystery of Marie Roget | The Purloined Letter / Edgar Allan Poe (book on cd)
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde / Robert Louis Stevenson  (Overdrive recorded book transferred to iPod)

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