Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is
Ten Authors I Own the Most Books from:
Émile Zola (30) 

Of course Émile Zola is at the top: since reading Germinal in April 2012 I haven't looked back!

My Zola Books:

Claude's Confession
Thérèse Raquin

The Rougon Macquart Novels
The Fortune of the Rougons, The Kill, The Belly of Paris, The Conquest of Plassans,
Abbé Mouret's Transgression, His Excellency, L'Assommoir, A Page of Love,
Nana, Pot Luck, The Ladies Paradise, Zest for Life, Germinal,
The Masterpiece, The Earth, The Dream, The Beast Within, Money,
The Debacle, Doctor Pascal

The 'Three Cities' Triology
Lourdes, Paris, and Rome.

The 'Four Gospels' (of which there are sadly only three)
Fruitfulness, Work, and Truth.

Two short story collections
For a Night of Love, and
Dead Men Tell No Tales.

Virginia Woolf (27)

Virginia Woolf is another great love of mine: I started reading her novels (the first being To The Lighthouse when I was in university, probably around 2002).

My Woolf books:

Five volumes of Letters
Two diaries (1897 - 1909, and 1925 - 1930)

The Novels
The Voyage Out, Melymbrosia: A Novel, Jacob's Room
Night and Day, To the Lighthouse, Mrs. Dalloway 
The Waves, The Years, Between the Acts

The Biographies
Orlando: a Biography, Flush: A Biography 

Short Stories
Haunted House and Other Stories
The Death of the Moth, 

The Common Reader First Series and Second Series, 
A Room of One's Own, Selected Essays, London Scene, 
Carlyle's House and Other Sketches
Moments of Being: Autobiographical Writings

Anthony Trollope (20)

My first novel by Trollope was He Knew He Was Right, which I read, I think, early in 2012.

My Trollope books:


The Chronicles of Barset
The Warden, Barchester Towers, Doctor Thorne,
Framley Parsonage, The Small House at Alington,
The Last Chronicle of Barset

The Palliser Novels
Can You Forgive Her?, Phineas Finn: The Irish Member, The Eustace Diamonds,
The Prime Minister, The Duke's Children

Dramatic Novels
Is He Popenjoy?,  Lady Anna, Cousin Henry,
He Knew He Was Right, The Way We Live Now

Comic Novels
Rachel Ray, The American Senator 

Irish Novels
 The Landleaguers 

Charles Dickens (17)

For most of my life I've hated Charles Dickens, but then I read Oliver Twist in 2011 and went on to read all of Dickens' novels.

My Dickens books:

Sketches by Boz,  A Tale of Two Cities,  Bleak House, Nicholas Nickleby,
   Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, Pickwick Papers, Hard Times,
   David Copperfield, Our Mutual Friend,  The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Other Stories,
 The Old Curiosity Shop, Dombey and Son,
Martin Chuzzlewit,  Little Dorrit

 Pictures from Italy, A Child's History of England

Fyodor Dostoyevsky (14)

My first was Crime and Punishment, which I badly need to revisit, and after that I can't remember which is was that made me love his work and want to read all of it! But I do, all the same.

My Dostoyevsky books:

The House of the Dead, The Insulted and the Injured, Notes from Underground, 
 The Gambler, The Eternal Husband, Karamazov Brothers, Crime and Punishment, 
The Adolescent, Crime and Punishment, The Devils, The Idiot,
 Netochka Nezvanova, The Poor Folk,
 The Village of Stepanchikovo

Thomas Hardy (12)

Thomas Hardy remains very hit and miss for me: some I love, some I hate.

My Hardy books:
Far from the Madding Crowd, Jude the Obscure, Mayor of Casterbridge, 
 A Pair of Blue Eyes, The Return of the Native, Tess of the D'urbervilles, 
 Thomas Hardy: Poems,  A Mere Interlude, Desperate Remedies, 
 Wessex Tales, The Well-beloved, Satire and Circumstance

John Steinbeck (12)

The first novel I read by Steinbeck was in around 2012, and it was The Grapes of Wrath. One of my favourite novels of all time.

My Steinbeck books:
East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, 
 The Pearl, Travels with Charley, The Long Valley, Sweet Thursday, 
 Cannery Row, The Wayward Bus, Tortilla Flat, 
 The Winter of Our Discontent, A Russian Journal

Henry James (12)

Too late did I discover, when collecting these, that I have a tendency to hate the novels and favour his novellas and short stories!

My James books:
The Ambassadors, The Aspern Papers and The Turn of the Screw, Daisy Miller, The Europeans, 
 The Portrait of a Lady, The Turn of the Screw, What Maisie Knew, Washington Square, 
 The Wings of the Dove, The American, The Awkward Age, The Golden Bowl

George Eliot (8)

Like a few others on here, the first book I read I hated (Middlemarch, but then I re-read it and loved it). It was my second, The Mill on the Floss, that made me love her.

My Eliot books:
Adam Bede, Daniel Deronda, Middlemarch, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, 
Felix Holt, the Radical, 
 Romola, Scenes of Clerical Life

P. G. Wodehouse (8)

No explanation needed, surely. The Jeeves books are the finest comic books of the 20th Century.

My Wodehouse books:
Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, Jeeves in the Offing, Much Obliged, Jeeves, 
 Aunts Aren't Gentlemen, Carry On, Jeeves, Right Ho Jeeves, 
 Very Good, Jeeves!, Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Master and Margarita by Mikhaíl Bulgakov.

The Master and Margarita (Ма́стер и Маргари́та) by Mikhail Afanasyevich Bulgakov was began in 1928, the manuscript burned (by Bulgakov) in 1930, began again in 1931, completed in 1940, and published in 1967 (having first appeared in the magazine Москва in 1966). It's a mixture of magic and mystery, fantasy and farce, against, largely, the backdrop of Soviet Russia. It's the exact sort of book that sends my rather literal mind running to Anthony Trollope, and a great deal of the time I could barely keep up: I found it so difficult. And yet I did like it: I liked it a great deal.

It begins with the ominous chapter heading 'Never Talk with Strangers' and describes Mikhail Alexandrovich Berlioz and Ivan Nikolaevich Ponyrev's encounter with Professor Woland, who is eager to prove the existence of Jesus. Within a few chapters, Berlioz is dead and it is revealed that Woland is the Devil, who has come to Moscow with his entourage, which includes Behemoth the talking cat (Behemoth is also a beast mentioned in Job 40:15–24:
Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron. He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him. Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about. Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.)
Behemoth and Leviathan, from
The Book of Job illustrated by
William Blake, 1825.
The plot is essentially three-fold:
  1. Following the death of his friend Berlioz, Ponyrev chases the demonic gang and ends up in a lunatic asylum. There he meets...
  2. .... The Master, who has shunned the world (and his lover, Margarita), and who has written a novel (since burned) about...
  3. ... Pontius Pilate and the crucifixion of Christ.
It is a highly complex novel, set partly in what was the USSR, and partly in Jerusalem (Yershayalim) in the time of Christ, and has a lot of Goethe's Faust and Dante's The Divine Comedy about it (not so much Paradiso, but certainly Inferno and Purgatorio). It's full of music and shadows, a thunderous black and red nightmare; all very intoxicating despite, as I admit, I had great difficulties in keeping up with it. There are demons, succubi, witches, vampires, and an angel of death, as well as the aforementioned talking cat, with a most hellish, fiendish party that ties all the narratives together.

Of course the nature of good and evil in humanity is a major theme of this work, so to is love: the love of Margarita and The Master. Censorship is also a predominant theme: like The Master, Mikhail Bulgakov suffered greatly from censorship under Stalin (his career was effectively ruined when the government prevented the publication or staging of his works). Above all, I think, the novel is run on the steam and theme of confusion, which is what The Master and Magarita is all about: how easy it is to throw everything off balance. That is ultimately how I felt when I finished this book. I found it intensely difficult, and this level of fantasy is not something I'm used to reading, but all the same it's a fascinating and seductive read, head-spinning though it was. I finished it only a day or so ago, but I'm already wanting to re-read it. I can't help but feel discussion and re-reads are the keys to understanding it.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (with illustrations by Edmund Dulac).

My own copy of Jane Eyre.
Last night I finished Jane Eyre: An Autobiography, the first title on my new (and not quite finalised) Classic Club list. It was first published on the 16th October 1847 under the pseudonym of Currer Bell and was Charlotte Brontë's first published novel (her first novel was The Professor, not published until 1857 after her death). 

Charlotte Brontë by
Evert A. Duyckinck, 1873.
Jane Eyre isn't just one of my favourite books: it seems everyone has a great deal of affection for it. Without a doubt it is one of the best books ever written, and one of the most read classics, so in a sense I feel this review is a little unnecessary. It's a special book, to me and to many: it was one of the first, if not the first, classics I've read and it's one of the few classics I love that I don't wish to study in some way (or any way). What I mean is when it comes to writing reviews for this blog I always have in mind what it is I want to write about, and then I do some reading around that area (what I read is linked at the end of the post under the 'Further Reading' heading). But with Jane Eyre I don't want to. I don't want to discover critiques, evaluate its strengthens, weaknesses, and techniques, nor do I wish to consider Brontë's intentions and her success in those terms. This is a very personal book for so many readers, and I'm no exception. The feeling I get from it is incredible warmth, joy and happiness, and sharing with Jane Eyre her pain, admiring her, and sharing her hopes and her sadness. 

Jane Eyre manuscript: Chapter One.
It's a bildungsroman which begins when Jane is ten, where we learn of her childhood living with her cruel Aunt Reed and her cousins John, Eliza, and Georgiana. She leaves them to attend Lowood, a charity institution for orphans, and, when she is eighteen she finds a job as a governess at Thornfield Hall where she meets Mr. Rochester. Jane's character and strength is tried and tested continuously from the very first page where she sits in the window reading ("There was no possibility of taking a walk that day"). Such is the power of Charlotte Brontë's writing it is easy to forget about her: this novel truly becomes an autobiography, and very quickly too, and because of that I felt such an attachment to Jane, such love and compassion as though she was real, which is why, as I said, I don't want to read about the "novel". Analysing it shatters this illusion. I want to forget about Charlotte Brontë, this is by Jane Eyre, her life in her own words. It's a beautiful novel, and so intense, so very highly charged. There are scenes so electric it's unfathomable to even try to explain why or how. Jane is strong, she is moral and has a great sense of dignity, and she is passionate and wild also. She is flesh and blood, and so loving and affectionate: for too long she was denied the pleasures of loving and being loved. At the beginning of the novel she is already wise beyond her years, but she ensures her suffering will be a tool to learn to sustain herself:
Still indomitable was the reply: "I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad—as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth—so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane—quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot."  
For this and the many other parts like it, Jane Eyre is an essential read for anyone has suffered or felt ill-used in anyway, however petty others may judge it. Jane gives voice and so gives strength and hope. It's exciting to read too because of the electric in it I mentioned, and, quite simply, the plot is enough to make anyone want to read and never stop. Her passion is exciting and invigorating: she writes, for example, about women:
It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, to absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.  
And the famous,
I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.
There are a hundred quotes at least I would share, but they should be read and re-read in context. I envy people who haven't read Jane Eyre because they have this pleasure to come, but I will return to Jane Eyre again and again and love it more each time because it is one of the finest, most timeless novels ever written. What more can I say?

I'll end by sharing some illustrations by Edmund Dulac, one of my favourite illustrators (I was so excited to find these!). They come from the 1905 edition published by J. M. Dent & co.

Friday, 18 July 2014

The Classics Club list: Complete.

Well, I did it - I finished my Classics Club list! It's taken about two and a half years, starting with Bleak House by Charles Dickens and ending with Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It's something I've been focussing on very much this year, and for the past few months almost to the exclusion of every other reading list I may have chosen for myself! In December last year when I ended my old blog and started this one I came close to re-starting the list, partly because I regretted not writing more about each title (and I do regret that, but it's something I will work on for my Classics Club II list!), and partly because there were titles that I wished I'd never listed. But I stuck by it, read them all, and I'm very glad I did! I am, as I'm sure is obvious, rather jubilant! 

So what was on the list? 

Pre-18th Century:
  • Augustine, St. - On Christian Teaching
  • The Bible
  • Bunyan, John - Pilgrim's Progress
  • de Cervates, Miguel - Don Quixote
  • Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales
  • Homer - The Odyssey
  • Machavelli, Niccolo - The Prince
  • Milton, John - Paradise Lost
  • Qur'an
  • Upanishads
The hardest section! The Bible took a year to read, The Canterbury Tales took, I think, about three or four months, and both were worth all the time spent. Don Quixote was a disaster read (this, sadly, is not the only disaster read), and my favourite of all here was Paradise Lost by John Milton. I won't pretend that I understood it as well as I would have liked, but I did love it!

The 18th Century
  • Cleland, John - Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure
  • Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe
  • Defoe, Daniel - Moll Flanders
  • Defoe, Daniel - Roxana
  • de Laclos, Choderlos - Les Liaisons Dangereuses
  • Diderot, Denis - The Nun
  • Lewis, Matthew - The Monk
  • Radcliffe, Ann - The Italian
  • Radcliffe, Ann - The Mysteries of Udolpho
  • Richardson, Samuel - Pamela
  • Sterne, Lawrence - The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
  • Swift, Jonathon - Gulliver's Travels
The most surprising on this list has to be Fanny Hill - I was amazed at the smut! Seriously, it gave me a new perspective not only of the 18th Century, but also the 19th and subsequently the 20th. Les Liaisons Dangereuses and The Nun are my favouritesh, and the worst was Radcliffe: I may ever read another Radcliffe as along as I live! And, although I couldn't quite settle into Defoe, I'm eager to return to him. I think, now I've read more 18th Century literature it will be a little easier, and infinitely more rewarding.

The 19th Century: 
A - C
  • Anderson, Hans Christian - Fairy Tales
  • Aksakov, Sergei - A Russian Gentleman
  • Austen, Jane - Emma
  • Austen, Jane - Mansfield Park
  • de Balzac, Honoré - Cousin Bette
  • Baudelaire, Charles - The Flowers of Evil
  • Blackmore , R. D. - Lorna Doone
  • Brontë, Charlotte - Shirley
  • Brontë, Charlotte - Villette
  • Burton, Richard Francis - Tales from the Arabian Nights
  • Chekhov, Anton - Plays
  • Chopin, Kate - The Awakening
  • Collins, Wilkie - The Moonstone
  • Collodi, Carlo - The Adventures of Pinocchio
  • Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans
Ah, Charlotte Brontë - forever a favourite. I'm planning on returning to the Brontës very soon! And Jane Austen - I didn't enjoy Emma or Mansfield Park, but this year I read Pride and Prejudice and I felt that I got Austen more than I ever had. I'm looking forward to re-reading her, too. Lorna Doone was a big surprise: I tried many times to read it but gave up after the first chapter. But I kept with it the last time I picked it up and I loved it! The Moonstone was another surprise: I thought I wouldn't like it, but it's another favourite on my list. The worst: The Last of the Mohicans: a nightmare of a read.
D - E
  • de Balzac, Honoré - Cousin Bette 
  • Dickens, Charles - Bleak House
  • Dickens, Charles - Nicholas Nickleby
  • Dickens, Charles - Our Mutual Friend 
  • Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - The Brothers Karamazov 
  • Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - The Devils
  • Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - The Eternal Husband
  • Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - The Idiot 
  • Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Netochka Nezvanova 
  • Doyle, Arthur Conan - The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • Dumas, Alexandre - Count of Monte Cristo
  • Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Muskateers
  • Elliot, George - Adam Bede
  • Elliot, George - The Mill on the Floss
  • Eliot, George - Silas Marner
Dostoyevsky and Eliot are now two of my favourite authors! I'm currently working my way through Dostoyevsky's novels and planning on listing a few of the ones I have read on my next Classics Club list. And Eliot - all the novels I haven't read will be on the list. The Hound of the Baskervilles was a surprise: I'd read one of the Sherlock Holmes short story collections and wasn't keen, but this one I loved. 
F - H
  • Flaubert, Gustav - Bouvard and Pécuchet
  • Flaubert, Gustav - Sentimental Education
  • Gaskell, Elizabeth - The Cranford Chronicles
  • Gaskell, Elizabeth - The Life of Charlotte Bronte 
  • Gaskell, Elizabeth - North and South
  • Gogol, Nikolai - Dead Souls
  • Gogol, Nikolai - Diary of a Madman and Other Stories
  • Goncharov, Ivan - Oblomov
  • Haggard, H. Rider - She 
  • Hardy, Thomas - Far From The Madding Crowd
  • Hardy, Thomas - The Mayor of Casterbridge
  • Hardy, Thomas - The Return of the Native
  • Hardy, Thomas - Satire of Circumstance, Lyrics and Reviews with Miscellaneous Pieces
  • Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the D’Urbervilles
  • Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter 
  • Hugo, Victor - Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • Hugo, Victor - Les Misérables 
Bouvard and Pécuchet was my second-last title to read on my list, and I enjoyed it, though perhaps not as much as Sentimental Education. North and South and Tess of the D'Urbervilles are two I loved very much, but my absolute favourite on here is Les Misérables. She was another surprise: it was one I wished I hadn't listed but ended up enjoying very much. 
J - S
  • James, Henry - The Europeans
  • James, Henry - What Maise Knew
  • James, Henry - Portrait of a Lady
  • Kipling, Rudyard - The Jungle Book
  • Kipling, Rudyard - Kim
  • London, Jack - The Call of the Wild & White Fang
  • Meridith, George - The Egoist
  • Nietzche, Friedrich - Beyond Good and Evil
  • Poe, Edgar Allan - Tales of Mystery and Imagination
  • Sacher-Masoch, Leopold von - Venus in Furs
  • Scott, Walter - Ivanhoe 
  • Sewell, Anna - Black Beauty
  • Stevenson, Robert Louis - Kidnapped 
  • Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin 
Stowe is my favourite of this section, and indeed one of my favourites of the whole thing. I finished it very recently (this month) and I'm still a little too in awe of it to write at present, but I am planning a review soon. The Egoist is another great novel I'm happy to have read, and I look forward to reading more Meredith. Henry James, sadly, has been a disappointment: I love his novellas, but cannot get into his novels. Even so, there'll be at least one James novel on my Classics Club II list. 
T - W
  • Thackeray, William - Vanity Fair
  • Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace
  • Trollope, Anthony - Barchester Towers
  • Trollope, Anthony - Is He Popenjoy?
  • Trollope, Anthony - The Warden
  • Tugenev, Ivan - Fathers and Sons
  • Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckeberry Finn 
  • Wilde, Oscar - The Importance of Being Earnest
  • Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray 
When I made this list I don't think I had read much Trollope, which would explain why one of my favourite authors doesn't feature so much. The next list will be full of his works! War and Peace was a re-read, and once again it evaded me, though I do like the novel on the whole, just not as much as I would like to. Mark Twain was a joy and I look forward to reading more of him, and I loved The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Zola, Émile - The Fortune of the Rougons
  • Zola, Émile - The Kill
  • Zola, Émile - The Belly of Paris
  • Zola, Émile - The Conquest of Plassans
  • Zola, Émile - The Sin of Abbé Mouret
  • Zola, Émile - His Excellency Eugene Rougon
  • Zola, Émile - L'Assommoir
  • Zola, Émile - A Love Episode
  • Zola, Émile - Nana 
  • Zola, Émile - Pot Luck
  • Zola, Émile - The Ladies Paradise
  • Zola, Émile - The Joy of Life
  • Zola, Émile - Germinal 
  • Zola, Émile - The Masterpiece
  • Zola, Émile - The Earth
  • Zola, Émile - The Dream
  • Zola, Émile - The Beast Within
  • Zola, Émile - Money
  • Zola, Émile - The Debacle
  • Zola, Émile - Doctor Pascal
This was by far my most ambitious section of the list, and I didn't decide on it until May (two months after I started making this list: Zola was the final edit). This is all of the Rougon Macquart novels, which I was determined to read after I read Germinal in April 2012. I loved reading this series, I think it took about year (if I remember correctly: I think it may have taken longer), and I can't say what my favourite is! Zola is incredible and everyone should read him in short. My next list will have all the other Zolas I've not yet read. 

The 20th Century:
A - F
  • Adam, Richard - Watership Down
  • Amis, Kingsley - Lucky Jim
  • Amis, Martin - London Fields
  • Amis, Martin - Money
  • Arnim, Elizabeth von - The Enchanted April
  • Arnim, Elizabeth von - Elizabeth and her German Garden
  • Bates, H. E. - The Pop Larkin Chronicles 
  • Bradbury, Ray - Fahrenheit 451
  • Burroughs, William S. - Naked Lunch
  • Butler, Samuel - The Way of All Flesh
  • Du Maurier, Daphne - Frenchman's Creek
  • Du Maurier, Daphne - Jamaican Inn
  • Ellis, Bret Easton - American Psycho
  • Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury
  • Faulks, Sebastian - Birdsong
  • Fitzgerald, F. Scott - Tender is the Night
  • Forster, E. M. - A Room With A View
  • Forster, E. M. - Howard's End
  • Fowles, John - The French Lieutenant's Woman
  • Fowles, John - The Magus
  • Frank, Anne - The Diary of Anne Frank
Two favourites: The Pop Larkin Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 (which I'll attempt to review this month, for now I'm, as with Stowe, too awe-stuck. Two surprises: both John Fowles novels: I'd come to absolutely dread them, but I enjoyed them both. The worst: American Psycho - I cannot even begin to express my loathing for it, and the time I wasted on it. The Way of All Flesh is another outstanding book, as is The Enchanted April.
G - L
  • Graves, Robert - I, Claudius
  • Greene, Graham - Brighton Rock
  • Heaney, Seamus - Beowulf
  • Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms
  • Hemingway, Ernest - The Sun Also Rises
  • Hughes, Ted - Ted Hughes Collected Poems
  • Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
  • James, Henry - The Wings of the Dove
  • Kerouac, Jack - Big Sur
  • Kerouac, Jack - The Subterraneans 
  • Kerouac, Jack - Maggie Cassidy
  • King, Stephen - It
  • Kundera, Milan - The Unbearable Lightness of Being 
  • Lawrence, D. H. - The Rainbow
  • Lawrence, D.H. - Sons and Lovers
  • Lawrence, D. H. - Women in Love
  • Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird 
  • Leroux, Gaston - The Phantom of the Opera 
One of the most surprising authors here is D. H. Lawrence: I first read Women in Love and thought it was beyond awful, and thus came to read The Rainbow and Sons and Lovers. There was no need: both are great reads, and Sons and Lovers was excellent. It is another favourite, but the next of all is To Kill a Mockingbird. Ted Hughes Collected Poems was a challenge read, but I can't remember how long that took me. I think possibly six moths or so. The Unbearable Lightness of Being was a little intimidating but worth it, whereas Hemingway was a complete disaster for me.
M - P
  • Marquez, Gabriel Garcia - Love in the Time of Cholera
  • Marquez, Gabriel Garcia - One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • Maugham, W. Somerset - Of Human Bondage
  • Maugham, W. Somerset - The Magician
  • McEwan, Ian - Atonement
  • Montgomery, L. M. - Anne of Green Gables 
  • Nesbit, E. - The Railway Children 
  • Orwell, George - Down and Out in Paris and London 
  • Orwell, George - The Road to Wigan Pier
  • Parker, Dorothy - The Collected Dorothy Parker
  • Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago 
  • Proust, Marcel - Swann's Way
  • Proust, Marcel - Within a Budding Grove
  • Proust, Marcel - The Guermantes Way
  • Proust, Marcel - Cities of the Plain
  • Proust, Marcel - The Captive
  • Proust, Marcel - The Fugitive
  • Proust, Marcel - Time Regained
Proust, not surprisingly, was the hardest of this bunch (the hardest of the lot, probably), but I'm glad to have read them / it (I should say "it", it's one novel after all). Orwell is a firm favourite and I'm looking forward to reading a lot more of him! Somerset Maugham is another favourite, but Marquez didn't sit well with me unfortunately. Pasternak I looked forward to, but I could take or leave him now. Anne of Green Gables was a wonderful read, and I'm on the look out for more!
R - W
  • Rushdie, Salman - Midnight's Children
  • Rushdie, Salman - The Satanic Verses
  • Sackville-West, Vita - The Edwardians
  • Saki - The Best of Saki 
  • Sartre, Jean Paul - Nausea 
  • Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr - August 1914
  • Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr - A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich 
  • Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath
  • Tolkein, J. R. R. - The Lord of the Rings
  • Waugh, Evelyn - Scoop
  • Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth
  • Wharton, Edith - The Age of Innocence
The best book not only of this section but the whole list is Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Since reading it I've collected about ten or so novels and they'll all be on my next list. The Lord of the Rings wasn't a great success, and August 1914 was, irritatingly, another disaster. The House of Mirth is another favourite and I look forward to re-reading it at some point soon. Finally Rushdie: I discovered in reading these two that I just don't like his novels. I won't rule out reading others, however. I hope one day I'll find a Rushdie to be enthusiastic about!

So there it is: two and a half years and I've finished my project. This weekend I'll be making a new list, but I don't expect to 'finalise' it before the end of the month. I'll let you know when I do, but for now I'll make a page for it and add to it as I go. I've been looking forward to making a new list.

And what else is there to say but a massive thank you to The Classics Club! It's a hugely inspiring group, without whom I wouldn't have made this list in the first place! It's very motivating to be a part of this club, and I very much love being a part of it: it's the best thing about being a book blogger :)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

The Dictionary of Received Ideas by Gustave Flaubert.

The Dictionary of Received Ideas (Le Dictionnaire des idées reçues) was written by Gustave Flaubert in the 1870s, but not published until 1911 after his death. It's a book I've mentioned before here and there, but last night I finished Bouvard et Pécuchet (1881), which has at the end The Dictionary and I enjoyed reading it again (which, I think, makes it about the tenth time I've read it!). I decided it should have it's own post as this satire of the Second Empire is an absolute genius of a work.

Flaubert remarked that the subtitle of his Dictionary ought to be "An Encyclopaedia of Human Stupidity": it is, essentially, an attack: an attack on clichés, the bourgeoisie (and the petite bourgeoisie), and ignorance,  pedantry, misinformation, and prejudice, common themes in Flaubert's novels, and indeed his friend Émile Zola's, but this is a comic work in which Flaubert's wit is comparable to (and surpassing) Oscar Wilde's. It is such a fun read, far too short sadly (less than 40 pages), and, as with the best classics, remains very much relevant to today. Here are a few of my favourite entries:

An excellent read, in short! It's usually an appendix of Bouvard et Pécuchet, but there's an online edition here should you wish to look at it now.