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I tend to read classics, so this isnt so much a challenge more a way of reducing my TBR pile :lol:. The first list covers books prior to 1900, the second list 1900 - 1960 and the third is Nabokov.

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List One

 

entries in bold I have read.

 

Flaubert 'Madame Bouvray'

Gogol 'Dead Souls'

Turgenev 'First Love'

Turgenev 'Fathers and Sons'

Tolstoy 'Anna Karenina'

Dostoyeseky 'The Idiot'

Butler 'Erewhon'

'The Good Soldier Svejk' Hasek

'Wives and Daughters' Gaskell

'Heart of Darkness' J Conrad

'The Vendetta' Honor

Edited by sirinrob
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List Two

 

Entries in bold I have read

 

James Joyce ' A Portrait of the Artist as a young man'

James Joyce 'Ulysses'

Kafka ' The Trial'

Albert Camus 'The Outsider'

Albert Camus 'The Plague'

Albert Camus 'The Fall'

Albert Camus 'The Rebel'

Sartre 'Nausea'

Sartre 'The Age of Reason'

Bulgakov 'Fatal Eggs'

Bulgakov 'The Master and Margeritha'

Bulgakov 'A Dead Man's Memoir'

Gunter Grass 'The tin Drum' * in German

Barth J 'The Sot-Weed Factor'

Edited by sirinrob

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List Three

 

Just titles as all these are by Vladimir Nabokov

 

'Mary'

'The Defense'

'The eye'

'King,Queen Knave'

'Glory'

'Laughter in the Dark'

'Despair'

'Invitation to A Beheading'

'The Gift'

'The Enchanter'

'The Real Life of Sebastian Knight'

'Bend Sinister'

'Lolita'

'Pnin'

'Pale Fire'

'Transparent Things'

'Look at the Harlequins!'

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Are you going to be sharing your thoughts on the books?

 

I would love to know more about them, especially as you are reading / have read a number of 'classics', so you have that additional comparision factor! :lol:

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Finished reading 'A Dead Man's Memoir' by Mikhail Bulgakov (Penguin edition)

 

This book relates the trials and tribulations of a young writer in getting his first play staged in post revolutionary Russia. It is based on the author's own experiences. The author carefully avoids political comment, instead making personal comments aimed at prominent literary figures he knew.

 

The author uses parody a great deal to comic effect. Another technique he uses is to give a character's name in the form firstname - patronymic and very soon after firstname-surname. This can be confusing till you get used to it, however it is used to create some memorable comic scenes. He also uses a technique where he develops a theme to a certain point and then in the next chapter starts a new theme which develops to where the first theme ended. It was a thchnique he used to great effect in 'The Master and Margarita'. In this work he only uses it once. It would appear that this work was a dress rehearsal for 'The Master and Margarita'. That would be borne out by the fact he broke off from writing 'The Master and Margarita' to write this work.

 

Overall this work is well written and an enjoyable read.

Edited by sirinrob
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finished reading 'First Love' by Turgenev. This is an author I hadn't read before so had no idea of his style. First impressions were that its accessible and concise. This is one of his novellas so is fairly short. The plot is relatively simple. Much of the book consists of dialogue, so not a lot happens. Having said that it does pick up towards the end.

 

I enjoyed it as a lightish read and will certainly explore his oeuvre further. the edition I read was the Penguin edition. The translation came across as competent.

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I haven't read this one, but would recommend "Fathers and Sons" which (as I remember it) is an interesting tale and explores a number of issues such as friendship and the divide between generations, against a backdrop of provincial Russian society undergoing a period of change. Serious literary students will probably put me right here......and expand on all the underlying themes. :D

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Right just finished 'Madame Bovray' . The style I found to be lyrical. The flashes of irony were good and overall a very enjoyable read.

 

'The Idiot' I found to be a good read once the plot got going. The lectures by Dostoyesky on religion, morality and russia, whilst interesting, marred the novel to a certain extent in my opnion.

 

At some point ill post something comparing these 2 works....

Edited by sirinrob

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Just finished reading 'Erewhon' by Samuel Butler. This a curious work to say the least. I found it ambiguous - on one hand it seems to be a satire on Victorian/Edwardian society and on the other in support of same. The ideas put forward in it are good, if at times verbosely expressed. his interest in Darwinism is evident. Im inclined to believe it is satirical, as much of the novel takes aspects of Victorian/Edwardian society and distorts them through a mirror (many of the names are mirrored versions of ordinary names e.g Yram

- Mary spelt backwards). I wouldnt say its a great book, but neither is bad, more a curiosity.

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Yes I am a fast reader but do retain details :lol: Also I have some spare time so making the best use of it.

 

I did a fleeting opinion on both books above so to make up ill do full review on each and then a comparison between them .

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Title: 'Madame Bovary'

Author: G Flaubert

Publisher: Project Gutenberg e-text *

 

* I started reading one translation and it was dire - nearly gave up. Second translation was far more competent so this review is based on that.

 

Synopsis

 

The novel is set in an area just nw of Rouen. Charles Bovary, who we meet at the start of the novel, is kind hearted, but lacks ambition. He eventually is married off by his domineering mother to supposedly rich widow. Charles a 'officier sante' sets up practise in Tostes ( nowadays Totes). He treats a local farmer for a broken leg and meets Emma, the farmer's daughter. As his visits become to frequent to the farmer he is forbidden by his wife to go there. Soon after his wife dies and after a period of mourning , courts Emma in erneast. They get married.

 

To start with Emma finds the change in locale stimulating, but after the ball given by Marquis d'Andervilliers she becomes disillusioned with married life. Eventually Charles decides they should move. They end up in Yonville. Soon after they settle in she gives birth to a daughter. She becomes romantically involved with Leon, a law student in Yonville, but this ends when Leon moves to Paris to study further.

 

A visit by Rodolphe Boulanger, a local landownwer, to have a servant bled, leads to Emma having an affair with Rodolphe. Eventually Rodolphe breaks off the affair the day before he and Emma were due to elope. This devastates Emma who falls seriously ill. Once she recovers, with the encouragement of Homais the local pharmacist, Charles takes Emma to Rouen to the opera There she becomes re-acquantited with Leon. Under the pretext of pianol lessons she starts an affair with Leon. This ends when Leon gets tired of Emma.

 

After this Emma falls prey to Lheureux, a crafty merchant who. begulies emma into buying expense items on credit. eventually the debit rises to enormous levels and is called in by Lheureux. In desperation Emma tries to raise the money from her former lovers and others, but fails. Either by design or accident emma learns of where Homais keeps his arsenic. Emma persuades Justin, Homais's assistant to give her the key to where its kept and takes a large dose.

 

she suffers a painful death. After her death Charles becomes more reclusive and eventually dies a ruined man.

 

Note As this is a synopsis I have culled much detail

 

Style

 

this is an example of Realism. I found the style very much to my taste. All the details ring true. The prose is lyrical and the pace is balanced.

 

Verdict

 

A very enjoyable read. the novel examines many issues and leaves food for thought.

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Author: Dostoyevsky

Title 'The Idiot'

Publisher: Project gutenberg e-text

Genre: Novel, classic

Theme: Love,Death, social mores, religion, patriotism

Background: This is one of the author's novels that he wrote on his return from exile in Siberia, and reflects his now Conservative views.

Summary:

Prince Lyov Nikolayevich Myshkin returns to Russia after a long absence. Myshkin suffers from epilepsy . This has been treated with some success in Switzerland. The Myshkin family line is said to end with him and his cousin.

 

On the train to Saint Petersburg, Myshkin meets and befriends the dark and enamoured Rogozhin. The latter tells the prince about his passion for Nastasya Filippovna, a beautiful woman with a bad reputation. Myshkin arrives at the house of General Yepanchin, who is married to the only other living member of the Myshkin line. Myshkin learns that Ganya, a young go-getter and secretary of the General, wants to marry Nastasya for her dowry. The prince feels an irresistible desire to meet her after hearing about her and even more so when he views a picture of her in the General's office.

 

At Nastasya's name day party, Myshkin sees Rogozhin arrive drunk and offer the young woman a large amount of money to follow him. The prince perceives the despair of Nastasya and proposes to her in order to save her from her situation. However she flees with Rogozhin.

 

Rogozhin later tries to kill his friend with a knife, but is hindered when, due to the stress of the situation, Myshkin falls into an epileptic seizure.

 

This painting of the dead Christ in the tomb, by Hans Holbein the Younger, had an unsettling effect on the character Rogozhin, and later on the consumptive Hippolite.

 

Over the course of the novel, Myshkin grows closer to the General's daughter, Aglaya, but Nastasya's actions culminate in a final meeting between the two women at Darya Alexeyvna's home, where Aglaya confronts Nastasya but soon flees. Myshkin moves to leave with Aglaya, but stops when Nastasya questions the fact that he would leave with her and she faints into his arms. He makes arrangements to marry Nastasya for fear she will return to Rogozhin. On the day of the marriage, however, Nastasya again runs away with Rogozhin, who then kills her.

 

The novel ends with Myshkin and Rogozhin lying together by the body of Nastasya: Myshkin comforts the raving Rogozhin; Rogozhin is sentenced to labor in Siberia; Aglaya rushes into an unhappy marriage with a man who claims to be a Polish count.

 

Reflections:

 

I found this novel interesting as it explored the physchology of the situation. The author puts his opinions over strongly, almost to the point of lecturing the reader. I found this tiresome and one-sided. Many of his opnions I disagree with as they dont accord with my credo. He is obsessed with religion, which on a personal level I dont practise. He is politically a Conservative, whereas I lean towards Liberalism in its widest sense. As to his views on being Russian , it is difficult to form a cogent opinion.

 

Conclusions

 

this is an interesting, if long read. I found the first 200 pages a bit tiresome as its scene setting. Once the plot gets going then gets easier. The lectures he writes do get tiresome tho.

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'Anna Karenina' -L Tolstoy

 

This is one novel that I know I will reread. The tension gradually builds to superb climax. Anna is a complex character - on one hand wilful and capricious - on the other full of insecuirty. Many of the other characters are well drawn, even when they are mediocre in manner. There is an undercurrent of Tolstoys personal views throughout the novel, but he resists the temptation to preach to the reader.

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Based on a recommendation on here just read 'The Haunted Bookshop' by morley. Its a good read with elements of mystery/literature/homespun philosophy with a vein of humour as well.

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This is a really helpful thread, I came on here earlier to pick my latest classic, thanks! I went for Madame Bovary :D

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