Re-reading High School English Class Novels
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230 Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte (read 20 Jan 1946 - re-read 29 Nov 1973)
231 Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte (read 23 Jan 1946 - re-read 8 Dec 1973)
298 The Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy (read 24 Nov 1946 - re-read 16 Jan 1965)
jannief, you mean there is NOTHING by Hemingway that you like? Not even some of the finest short stories ever written: "The Killers," and "Hills Like White Elephants"? I wonder if feminist politics are influencing your opinion.
I just read my first Hemingway and really liked it. Does that make me a male chauvanist?
I enjoy reading books, not dissecting them.
I just read my first Hemingway and really liked it. Does that make me a male chauvanist?
Not a chauvinist--just someone objective enough to admire excellent work. And I had no intention of insulting anyone--when someone can make a blanket statement about the entire output of a major artist, I am always interested in the reasons. I have read enough to know that many feminists dismiss Hemingway out of hand because of his macho persona. If that isn't the case with jannief, I just wanted to hear what books she found so "boring and depressing."
I have to say that I don't care for Wagner's music--mostly because, with some exceptions, it is orchestrally overwrought, but also because I despise the proto-fascist and anti-Semitic opinions of the artist. But I accept him as a major artist, and still enjoy hearing excerpts such as "Siegfried's Rhine Journey" and the "lied zum abendstern." I would never say "he isn't a good composer." I can accept "I don't like Hemingway." De gustibus non est disputandum, after all.
(By the way, I really like Barbara Pym--what does that make me? Effeminate? An Anglophile?
I hated Hemingway, all of Hemingway, for the first thirty-some-odd years of my existence. I kept trying, but just couldn't do it. I could see movies made from Hemingway, and that worked, but those damn books, all written in that truncated style with those overemphasized dorsal consonants, just wouldn't work for me. After Garden of Eden, which is really a distinctive Hemingway work in a lot of ways, and which I enjoyed, I was able to go back and read him and take his damn voice with a bit more humor. And then I discovered that I liked most of him, so I can now read Hemingway. I still wouldn't put "Hills Like White Elephants" on par with, say, Faulkner's laundry list, but at least its not a bad read.
Granted, some of Hemingway's scenes make me fidget now--especially those of a romantic nature (some of the Catharine/Frederic love scenes are downright embarrassing, though the Caporetto rout, the scenes with Rinaldi, and the ordeal of Catharine's miscarriage and death are still powerful for this reader.)
Hemingway's at his best with his scenes of men under pressure, and even better in the scenes where men and women are desperately out of sync--as in "Hills Like White Elephants" where the woman going for an abortion calmly tells her callow and callous lover, who is assuring her how easy it will be, to "please please please please please please please stop talking."
(You'll have to give me an example of the writer's "overemphasized dorsal consonants." Since the dorsal consonants encompass the broadest range of consonants of normal English speech--as opposed to the coronal consonants with their emphasis on fricatives and plosives, and radical consonants which are as rare in English as the aveolar approximant "r" is in the speech of native Hawaiians.)
I did enjoy The Sun Also Rises (if only for the pun) though. And yes, for me, a writers personal life does sometimes influence how likely I am to enjoy his or her output.
Having said that, I'm not a classics lover. I prefer biography and non-fiction and have some real questions about why the works of alcoholics, bi-polar, and suicidal people are considered "classics."
I remember reading The Agony and the Ectasy and a book about Vincent VanGogh (I thought the former was the same book) and not enjoying them. I have always loved reading and have always had a book going for interest sake as long as I can remember, so it is really too bad how "having" to read things in school can make them chores instead of pleasures. My high schoolers are now taking AP Eng. Lit. and enjoying many of the books, but feeling pushed through them. Ah well, what can we do? School has to have deadlines.
11, ToReadToNap I think it would be a great idea for teachers to give out a list like mine did (alas now lost) and say something like that. Don't read these now...
touchestones not all working
Interesting viewpoint about "why the works of alcoholics, bi-polar, and suicidal people are considered 'classics.'" I suppose you meant Michelangelo and van Gogh when you were discussing why you didn't like The Agony and the Ecstasy and Lust for Life, because they were the bipolar, suicidal ones, and not the author of those works, Irving Stone, who had a long, happy life, successful marriage, and donated much of his wealth and time to support charitable causes.
I can't figure it out either why so many tortured people create great art that moves us (well, some of us) long after they are gone. All I can say is, better them than me--I'd hate to live without the beauty they created, but I wouldn't want to create it myself if I had to live their lives. Maybe that's the reason nobody will be interested in me and my works after I'm gone.
Django, don't be hard on yourself. You will probably leave a legacy that people will be talking about for generations. Me on the other hand, will leave my heirs scratching their heads.
By the way, >26 skf:, I think that list is an awesome idea! There must be some list like that circulating LT.
I loved the classics that I read for some teachers. But there were others that you couldn't please no matter how hard you worked and what kind of papers your produced. It was always a bad experience. The things I read for them will always be tainted in a bad way...
I really enjoyed Heart of Darkness and All Quiet on the Western Front.
The world keeps changing things on us. You know...40 is the new 30. Heck, by the time i'm 60 it'll be the new 25. ;-)
One can hope anyway.
Perhaps the problem is late 19th century fiction in general. There is a current of morbidity in much of it--especially the most highly regarded novels--that frankly puts me off. Most of Hardy affects me the same way (nothing will get me to reread Jude the Obscure), and even my favorite novel of the period, Middlemarch, is more a tonic than an elixir.
(The first three lines self-posted before I was done!)
My Mom figured that out--about books and other things--when I was about 16 and used it effectively until I was too old for it to be plausible. If that didn't work, she would tell me it wasn't suitable for girls; that worked every time.
SKF mentioned A Tale of Two Cities. We were part-way through it when our senior year of high school ended. Our English teacher put a curse on us: If anyone didn't finish it, all her books would turn to Sanskrit.
Don't know about the others, but I finished it!
The world keeps changing things on us. You know...40 is the new 30. Heck, by the time i'm 60 it'll be the new 25. ;-)"
Shortly after I turned 40, I figured out that the 40s are "early middle age." The 60s are "late middle age." Senior doesn't start until at least 70 (now--it'll be 80 by the time I get there).
And 50 is the new 35!
In other words, I don't have a clue how old I am.
Belated Happy BD to tjsjohanna.
I am reading alot of Faulkner, tolkien and C S Lewis these days. I am getting more out of these authors now than when I was younger.
Which is strange, because I always liked English class. I loved All Quiet on the Western Front and The Catcher in the Rye,when they were assigned. I read Moby Dick as an adventure story and ate it up, didn't even mind the endless whaling details. Anna Karenina was even okay ... I knew about the train scene at the end, so I had that to keep me going.
But I never saw classics as anything more than a sort of outdated modern novel - something meant purely to get whatever entertainment you could from it, and it if didn't entertain in one form or another then what good was it? So I wasn't impressed at all with Brothers Karamazov, and only liked portions of War and Peace. I was loving the admiring comments of my teachers for reading this stuff voluntarily, but failing miserably at having any sort of real appreciation for them.
Even in my twenties and thirties, I was reading Ivanhoe, Count of Monte Cristo and Nicholas Nickelby in the same way that I would your average pulp fiction. I could scarcely tell the difference in quality except for the "fancy language". Patted myself on the back for reading another classic title and moved on.
Now it's a different ballgame. I can finally tell good and bad fiction apart. I finally have some taste for quality in what I read. There's too many books I haven't read yet to go back right now (more Austen and Dickens, please!), but I wonder what would happen if I returned to Brothers Karamazov, which some people say is the best novel ever written - maybe I'd "get it" now? On the other hand, I'm afraid if I went back to Moby Dick I might find it drags along ...
... although even now I find an occasional one I can't absorb. I still don't comprehend the big deal about Gatsby, to be honest.