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KEV67

KEV67's getting well read project

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Now that I have read (almost) War and Peace, and having read (but not understood) Ulysses last year, I feel I have read most the great books. Now it's just Dante, Shakespeare, Beowulf and the Greeks, but maybe I don't have to worry about them. However, I still have a bit of a TBR to conclude my getting well read project:

  • Clarissa by Samuel Richardson
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  • A La Recherche du Temps Perdu by Marcel Proust (do I have to?)
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton
  • Something by John Faulkner (do I really have to?)
  • Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (not looking forward to this)
  • Something by D.H. Lawrence
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker

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23 minutes ago, KEV67 said:

Now that I have read (almost) War and Peace, and having read (but not understood) Ulysses last year, I feel I have read most the great books. Now it's just Dante, Shakespeare, Beowulf and the Greeks, but maybe I don't have to worry about them. However, I still have a bit of a TBR to conclude my getting well read project:

  • Clarissa by Samuel Richardson
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  • A La Recherche du Temps Perdu by Marcel Proust (do I have to?)
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton
  • Something by John Faulkner (do I really have to?)
  • Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (not looking forward to this)
  • Something by D.H. Lawrence
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker

 

Beowulf is amazing, Shakespeare sublime, not read much by the Greeks myself, Crime and Punishment is well worth the trouble, John Faulkner (why?), and Dracula is also amazing. I have not read all of Paradise Lost but Milton's other work is astounding - my father used to quote On His Blindness from time to time. 

 

I too have ambitions for Clarissa, Les Miserables, Proust and Portrait of a Lady, simply for the pleasure of reading them.  I'll get there eventually.

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Les Miserables is a fabulous book, but you have to be in the right frame of mind to read it. Proust,alas,defeated me at the two or three attempts I made at reading the series; Clarissa I found an easy read, but quite honestly, a flimsy plot stretched over the length of the book .Crime and Punishment I remember reaching about halfway,then putting it aside as something more interesting came along (and never picking it up again!) Dracula, has been written about on this board before; I love it, but many readers feel it is dull and boring, because of the style of the  writing. D.H.Lawrence is a writer who I always found tedious and almost unreadable (as with C.Dickens,another big no from me!) I have read some Henry James, and cannot recall specific titles, so they failed to impress, obviously! And Paradise Lost was a wonderful read, when I got to it aged around twenty or so. Faulkner i have never read, although I have often been told that I should. But be comfortable with what you read; as I have grown even more ancient, I have decided that life being too short, if a book fails to 'grab me' within the first fifty or so pages, I abandon it. There are so many other good books out there, waiting!

Edited by timebug

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1 hour ago, timebug said:

if a book fails to 'grab me' within the first fifty or so pages, I abandon it. There are so many other good books out there, waiting!

 

Me too. 

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I loved Dracula, I started it expecting a difficult read but was very pleasantly surprised!

 

Les Miserables is on my shelf, so I’ll be interested to see what you think of that.

 

Why are you not looking forward to Henry James? 

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I have tried reading Dracula before. I did not like it and gave it up, but I will try it again. I am thinking about reading something by John Faulkner because of the Great American Novel. I gather he used to write them, or at leàst one of them. 

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I have started reading The Red and the Black by Stendhal. I read in the introduction that Marie-Henri Beyle (Stendhal's real name) was one of the French officers that retreated from Russia in 1812, which I have just been reading about in War and Peace. What are the chances of that?

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I think I will add The Way of all Flesh to the list. In the same vein, Confessions of a Justified Sinner, which is a good title if nothing else. Then I should read D H Lawrence and The Forsyte Saga. I remember my mum watching it in the 70s. It seemed deadly dull to me. In addition, The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing. Maybe Villette by Charlotte Brontë. Long term, the Decameron and the Divine Comedy.

Edited by KEV67

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On my shelves : Confessions of a Justified Sinner, D H Lawrence and The Forsyte Saga - which I watched during the 1970's and loved. The Red and the Black by Stendhal.

 

On my Kindle (app) : the Decameron and the Divine Comedy

 

Aspire to : The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing. Villette by Charlotte Brontë

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I've picked this up late, so am not sure what the criteria are for your Getting Well Read project, but a few thoughts to chuck in based on the posts above:

 

Great American Novel:

I'm assuming you mean William Faulkner?  John Faulkner is rather lesser known and regarded as a 'lesser' writer (I've not read any of his, so can't judge!).

I was rather struck at how thin that list from Penguin was, so a few additional suggestions  - I've been doing a lot more reading of American literature since starting my Tour of the United States (one of my routes to becoming better read!). My apologies for listing anything you might have already read (assuming there's a fair bit as you say that you have read most of the great books):

To Kill A Mocking Bird - Harper Lee

East of Eden - John Steinbeck

Underworld - Don DeLillo

The Adventures of Augie March - Saul Bellow

Ragtime - EL Doctorow

My Antonia - Willa Cather (always seems to slide under the radar, but a real great IMO)

The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton

Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy

Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison

and authors I've yet to read: John Updike, Thomas Pynchon, James Baldwin, Carson McCullers, Sinclair Lewis, Robert Penn Warren, Philip Roth

 

I could go on....!

 

BTW, what do you mean by 'Great's?  I'd be fascinated in what list or criteria you're using - I can't imagine ever only having a dozen or so to go.

 

 

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3 hours ago, willoyd said:

I've picked this up late, so am not sure what the criteria are for your Getting Well Read project, but a few thoughts to chuck in based on the posts above:

 

Great American Novel:

I'm assuming you mean William Faulkner?  John Faulkner is rather lesser known and regarded as a 'lesser' writer (I've not read any of his, so can't judge!).

I was rather struck at how thin that list from Penguin was, so a few additional suggestions  - I've been doing a lot more reading of American literature since starting my Tour of the United States (one of my routes to becoming better read!). My apologies for listing anything you might have already read (assuming there's a fair bit as you say that you have read most of the great books):

To Kill A Mocking Bird - Harper Lee

East of Eden - John Steinbeck

Underworld - Don DeLillo

The Adventures of Augie March - Saul Bellow

Ragtime - EL Doctorow

My Antonia - Willa Cather (always seems to slide under the radar, but a real great IMO)

The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton

Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy

Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison

and authors I've yet to read: John Updike, Thomas Pynchon, James Baldwin, Carson McCullers, Sinclair Lewis, Robert Penn Warren, Philip Roth

 

I could go on....!

 

BTW, what do you mean by 'Great's?  I'd be fascinated in what list or criteria you're using - I can't imagine ever only having a dozen or so to go.

 

 

 

Yes, I must have meant William Faulkner. By greats I mean those books that keep appearing in the greatest books of all time lists: Don Quixote, War & Peace, Ulysses, Hamlet, etc. Great American Novels are slightly different. I tend to associate them with American novels written in the 1920s, (probably) up to the 1960s, the exemplar being The Great Gatsby, which I thought was alright. Obviously the greatest American novels are Moby Dick and Huckleberry Finn.

 

To Kill A Mocking Bird - I read it but I think it's a children's book really.

East of Eden - I read Grapes of Wrath. It was just too bloody miserable.

Underworld - Haven't read.

The Adventures of Augie March - Read Humbolt's Gift. Pretty good, but I did not feel the urge to read more of his stuff.

Ragtime  - Hadn't heard of.

My Antonia - Hadn't heard of.

The Age of Innocence - May get around to one day.

Blood Meridian - Reading currently. Yes, it's great.

Song of Solomon - Suppose I should.

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13 hours ago, KEV67 said:

Obviously the greatest American novels are Moby Dick and Huckleberry Finn.

 

Hmmm. I'd agree with Moby Dick - one of my all-time favourites, but, whilst having enjoyed and appreciated it, I think Huck Finn is rather overrated.

 

Quote

To Kill A Mocking Bird -

I read it but I think it's a children's book really.

Harper Lee would turn in her grave at that!  Yes, it's read and studied in schools, but I'd have to profoundly disagree on that assessment; it's certainly accessible by younger people, but it's very much an adult read IMO.  Pulitzers don't go to children's books either!

 

Quote

Ragtime  - Hadn't heard of.

My Antonia - Hadn't heard of.

Song of Solomon - Suppose I should.

 

I can thoroughly recommend all of these.  I have a particular love of Willa Cather's work - one of the 'greats' of American literature who is barely known in the UK.  Pretty much anything of hers is worth reading IMO.  My Antonia is part of her Plains trilogy that includes O Pioneers and The Song of the Lark, although they're not really connected other than through setting.  Death Comes to the Archbishop is perhaps her best known, certainly one of her most popular.

 

Quote

By greats I mean those books that keep appearing in the greatest books of all time lists: Don Quixote, War & Peace, Ulysses, Hamlet, etc.

That's an interesting one (Hamlet, a book? Answers on a postcard!) - I do enjoy browsing them, and they are certainly diverse in terms of number and content.  Any that you particularly use? 

 

BTW, if you find Faulkner a bit off-putting (understandably!), I'd suggest giving As I Lay Dying a go - rather more manageable than some of his other stuff - it's at least shorter!

Edited by willoyd

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