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Judy's Classics Challenge

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I love the idea of this. I think for this month I will tackle The Earth by Emile Zola (number 15 in the Rougon-Macquart cycle).

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Have you read the others in this series? I've never heard of them before now and am intrigued. What did you think of them?

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Have you read the others in this series? I've never heard of them before now and am intrigued. What did you think of them?

 

I'm a big Zola fan - I read Germinal when I was 16 and again for my degree and it reawakened my interest in his novels. Although 19th century they have a modern (I think) feel to them - especially when you consider how wordy writers of that time eg. Dickens could be. Zola always researched his subject thoroughly and his novels tend generally to be a social commentary on an aspect of French society; they are also very evocative through his use of description. They can occasionally be depressing because of the nature of the subjects and at times can be quite shocking (particularly for their time) but I really enjoy them. My favourite is not from the Rougon-Macquart cycle - it's Therese Raquin - I found it a compelling read. I noticed that he has now been included on fastasticfiction also amazon may be a good place to get book summaries from. Some of the novels are easier to get than others.

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April's Classic is The Earth by Emile Zola.

 

(Summary from Amazon)

When Jean Macquart arrives in the peasant community of Beauce, where farmers have worked the same land for generations, he quickly finds himself involved in the corrupt affairs of the local Fouan family. Aging and Lear-like, Old Man Fouan has decided to divide his land between his three children: his penny-pinching daughter Fanny, his eldest son - a far from holy figure known as Jesus Christ' - and the lecherous Buteau, Macquart's friend. But, in a community where land is everything, sibling rivalry quickly turns to brutal hatred, as Buteau declares himself unsatisfied with his lot. Part of the vast Rougon-Macquart cycle, "The Earth" was regarded by Zola as his greatest novel. A fascinating portrayal of a struggling but decadent community, it offers a compelling exploration of the destructive nature of human ignorance and greed.

 

Really enjoying it so far - don't think I've read any Zola since the summer - so it's good to read him again.

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:D Actually I rave constantly about his novels but then start one with a sense of trepidation as they are never lighthearted reads. I quickly get into them though and am certainly enjoying The Earth.

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Thank you for explaining about Zola, Judy. I have intended reading him since I was a teenager, but never quite got there. What should I start with?

 

An aside...PDR I love your moomins!

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An aside...PDR I love your moomins!

 

I beg your pardon??! :D :D (Sorry, couldn't resist!)

 

Judy's very fond of them too, which is why I know she won't mind me replying in her thread ;)

 

How's the Zola ticking along, Judy? I'm struggling with Two Cities, I'm afraid :( It's not as character driven as Dickens' other works I've read, I think that's the problem for me.

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Thank you for explaining about Zola, Judy. I have intended reading him since I was a teenager, but never quite got there. What should I start with?

 

It's hard to know what to recommend. The first one I read (age 16 and then again in my 30's) was Germinal which made quite an impact on me. In terms of imagery it's amazing - it's about mining and the descriptions are very evocative. It's number 13 in the Rougon-Macquart cycle (which I'm not reading in order) and each book although linked by the family threads is very much a book in its own right and tends to deal with a different aspect of French 19th century life, eg Au Bonheur des Dames is about a large department store in Paris. I suggest you have a look to see what the main ones (some are easier to get hold of than others) are about and see which one attracts you by its subject. Therese Raquin (not part of the cycle) is my favourite - a shocking tale!

 

Very happy to have Moomin talk on my thread - they're such gorgeous creatures (still can't believe my sister had never heard of them - see earlier post!). :D

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I

 

How's the Zola ticking along, Judy? I'm struggling with Two Cities, I'm afraid :D It's not as character driven as Dickens' other works I've read, I think that's the problem for me.

 

Zola going fine - enjoying it more than I thought I would. Have to admit that the subject matter of Two Cities never appealed to me. Must read Dickens again though - I've always enjoyed his work. One for the classics challenge.

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Thanks Judy. I'll have a scout around and see whats what, and what I can get hold of. I might even have a copy of Germinal...or, I might be able to download one.

 

Tale of two cities is a book I read when twelve, my first Dickens, I think and it nmade quite an impression on me. I have been thinking about reading it again recently and nearly downloaded it a couple of times.

 

We need more time!!!

How can we possibly read all these books in one lifetime?

Pp

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For my May classic challenge I've just started The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (a gothic mystery). It's good so far.

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June's classic is The Dream by Emile Zola

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July's Classic Challenge will be:-

 

The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

(blurb from Waterstone's website)

 

One of Hardy's classic statements about modern love, courtship, and marriage, The Return of the Native is set in the pastoral village of Egdon Heath. The fiery Eustacia Vye, wishing only for passionate love, believes that her escape from Egdon lies in her marriage to Clym Yeobright, the returning "native, " home from Paris and discontented with his work there. Clym wishes to remain in Egdon, however -- a desire that sets him in opposition to his wife and brings them both to despair. Behind the narrative of The Return of the Native lie the tragic fates of Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Oedipus, and in writing the novel Hardy endowed his ordinary characters with the status of tragic heroes, seen especially in the ill-fated lovers and Damon Wildeve, who spoil their chances to master their own destinies.

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