The Classics Club #1 list (completed)
Finally this day has come.…I completed my Classics Club list!
I started on March 22 2012 with Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens and I ended the challenge with Rabbit, Run by John Updike on 03 Augustus 2014.
During this challenge I decided to read some classic books in French. I wanted to learn the a third language. I can now read a French book as easily as I do a book in English! I was at times dejected, low in spirits because my reading speed was sharply reduced. It took me 3 months to read Mme Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. Yet I persevered and treated myself to a cold glass of Heineken after every completed French book!
My list contains some classic books in my second language, Dutch. Not many people will recognize the titles but in The Netherlands they are considered classics.
Here are the books I read:
- De Cervantes, Miguel – Don Quixote
- De Lafayette, Mme – Princesse de Clèves (french)
Don Quixote was a challenge to read. It is a classic, but a very long one.
Princesse de Clèves: I had to first understand the French history that is an important part of the book. That took some time and effort.
None! I had no idea I had forgotten this century. I’ll have to put some of these books on my second classic list!
A – C
- Alcott, Louisa May – Little Women
- Austen, Jane – Persuasion
- Brontë, Charlotte – Villette
- Conrad, Joseph – Lord Jim
My favorite was Villette by C. Bronte. The book had beenon my TBR shelf for years. Little Women is not my kind of book. The only redemptive quality was the fact that it led me to a biography about the Alcott, Eden’s Outcasts by John Matteson. That was an excellent book! I read Persuasion as a gesture towards Brona’s Books blog. It is one of her favortries. I read Lord Jim because I admire Joseph Conrad, Polish by birth and learned English and worte great literature. That is quite an accomplishment!
D – E
- Daudet, Alphonse – Lettres de mon Moulin (french)
- Dickens, Charles – Little Dorrit
- Dumas, Alexandre – La tulipe noire (french) (tulips!)
I was reading Dickens when I started the classic list. I should read more of his books but got carried away reading in French. Two more Dickens’ books are on the second list. Daudet is an author often overlooked. Lettres de mon Moulin would be an excellent choice to read in French if you wanted to practice your language skills. La tulipe noire is set in The Netherlands…..so I had to read it! I ended planting 80 tulips as a gesture to Dumas!
F – H
- Flaubert, Gustav – Mme Bovary (french)
- Hawthorne, Nathaniel – The Scarlet Letter
- Hugo, Victor – Notre-Dame de Paris (french)
Mme Bovary was my first French classic for my “read French for a year’ challenge. It took me three months to finish the book.. Somedays I could just read 6 pages! At times I would take a deep breath and as myself …is it worth the effort? I did not give up and have kept on reading French. Notre-Dame de Paris was a surprise. I was impressed by the characterization of the Hunchback. The Scarlet Letter was a book I read in high school. I’m glad I re-read it because I just did not understand all this book had to offer as a teen.
J – S
- Maupassant, G. de – Bel-Ami
Maupassant was my second French classic. In comparison with Mme Bovary I felt I was reading faster than the speed of light! This was my first reward for all my effort while reading Flaubert. I still had to look op 1140 words and 394 verbs.
Z(ola) ( all in french)
- Zola, Émile – La Fortune des Rougons
- Zola, Émile – La Curée
- Zola, Émile – Le Ventre de Paris
- Zola, Émile – La Conquête de Plassans
- Zola, Émile – La Faute de l’Abbé de Mouret
- Zola, Émile – Son Excellence de Eugène Rougon
- Zola, Émile – L’Assommoir
- Zola, Émile – Une Page d’Amour
- Zola, Émile – Le Rêve
- Zola, Émile –Pot-Bouille
- Zola, Émile – Au Bonheur des Dames
- Zola, Émile – La Joie de Vivre
- Zola, Émile – La Bête Humaine
- Zola, Émile – L’ Œuvre
- Zola, Émile –L’Argent
- Zola, Émile –Germinal
- Zola, Émile – Lourdes
This was the basis for ‘my read French for a year’ challenge. I had read Germinal and could not forget that book. I decided to read the Rougon-Macquart series. (20 books) I finished the last R-M books but are not included on this list.
20th – 21th Century:
A – F
- Bolano, Roberto – 2666
- Cheever, John – The Wapshot Chronicle
2666 It was a chore to read from start to finish, but I gave the book a “chance to prove itself”. Bolano’s 2666 took me to new ‘reading limits’ and no regets. It was the first book that I ever read that was physically exhausting.
The Wapshot Chronicle: I wanted to read one of the most famous American writers who suffered from alcoholism. Cheever drank chronically for 40 years and yet was able to produce great works of literature despite the addiction.
G – L
- Gide, André – I’immoraliste (french)
- Grossman, Vasily – An Armenian Sketchbook
- Llosa, Mario Vargas – Feast of the Goat
- Londres, Albert – Au Bagne (french)
L’immoraliste sat on my bookshelf for years. I wanted to finally read this book and discover André Gide. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature 1947, yet rarely do you see his books on classic lists. An Armenian Sketchbook was one of my ‘surprise’ books this year. I never heard of the writer and feel in love with his writing. I plan to read more of his books. Feast of the Goat was historical fiction and M. V. Llosa exposed the world of a Central American dictator. Au Bagne was a big disappointment. Londres’s writing style is choppy and dull. I have 2 more of his books on the shelf, they may stay there.
M – P
- Némirovsky, Irène – Suite française ( french)
- Némirovsky, Irène – Le vin de solitude (french)
- Pasternak, Boris – Doctor Zhivago
Némirovsky’s books are a pleasure to read in French. Her style is simple and it just flows. I expect she has read Zola because she wrote crowd scenes and described gardens (Suite française) as he did. Némirovsky can sometimes get carried away with the ‘poetic’. Too much of a good thing can be tiresome in the end. Doctor Zhivago was one of my first classic reads in 2012. It was familiar due to the film. I knew what to expect. I want to read more Russian literature, but not Pasterank.
R – W
- Simenon, George – La neige était sale
- Shute, Nevil –On the beach
- Saluerhoff, Jan – Alle verhalen
- Thurber, James – The 13 clocks
- Tillion, Germaine – Ravenbruck (french)
- John – Rabbit, Run
- Vestdijk, Simon – Terug naar Ina Dammen
- Vestdijk, Simon – Pastorale 1943
- Wiesel, , Elie –Night
- Williams, Tenneesse – Cat on a hot tin roof
- E.B. – Stuart Little
I went from the best to the worst with some of these books. I’ll start with the bad news. La neige était sale was awful. Simenon is not looking for “le mot juste”. I rarely found a metaphor or a simile to give the story some polish. Anything that makes other novels into literature is missing here. The rest of the books were all good news! The Dutch selections are classics in The Netherlands, you probably don’t recognize them. American classics were powerful, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof and Rabbit, Run. I was able to enjoy these book after reading about Williams in Trip to Echo Spring, writers and drinking by O. Laing and Updike in ‘Updike’ by A. Begley. I would recommend reading these books for add information. WW II is the back round for Night and Ravenbruck. Sometimes difficult to read, but one must know the truth. I needed some relaxation after some intense reading and choose to read some children’s classics that have a whiff of literature about them: Stuart Little and The 13 Clocks. They were great reads for young and old!
I remember when I sat down to start a blog. All I needed was a glass of Chardonnay, some determination and a desire to start an incredible journey through some classic books.
Don’t waste your time….. here is the link for The Classics Club. Start your journey because there are so many good books just waiting for you!
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