In August, there was a Classics book tag going around the blogosphere. I didn’t participate at the time. But then, I saw Brona’s post, and she tagged whoever wanted to participate.
As I recently finished reading my first list of 50 books for The Classics Club, I thought I would use these questions to do some type of recap.
So I’m exclusively considering these 50 books to answer the following questions.
Which means that I’ll probably have different answers if I do it again (I might) when I’m done with my 2nd list of 50 titles.
I’m also not considering all the other classics I read before joining The Classics Club.
What is one classic that hasn’t been made into a movie yet, but really needs to?
I think it would be neat to make a movie on Travels with Charley. It would be a great piece of Americana. I’d see Robert Duvall as a great John Steinbeck.
What draws you to classics?
My thinking is that if we have not stopped reading these books along the years and the centuries, it means they have a message or value for all ages, and so for mine as well. So I’m curious to see what it could be.
Also, incidentally, I really love the online community built around the classics, especially through The Classics Club. It’s really great that so many people from many countries can interact on these treasures of humanity.
I’m thinking for instance of Don Quixote, and the 3 readalongs organized around it this year that I know of.
Be sure to visit also this amazing interview with Silvia of this work – and most insightful comments on my and her post.
What is an underrated classic?
Maybe a book that is on the verge of being forgotten, a bit like an endangered species, and not too many people have read it, for a reason or another. But when you read it, you realize its content can definitely be understood and is meaningful for us today.
I could mention here Arsène Lupin, not that well known in English speaking circles. Yet, it is a seminal series for the mystery genres, and offers a unique perspective on a life of crime, very different from the current tendency of gruesome and violent thrillers.
What is one classic that you didn’t expect to love, but ended up loving anyway?
I don’t remember fondly, to say the least, the various novels by Hemingway I read. But so many readers were talking about A Moveable Feast, that I was intrigued and thought I should give it a try, especially as it is set in my native country!
I was probably also feeling ashamed I had never read it. But I approached it with fear and trembling, because of my past experience with this author. Yet, I loved the book very much. It definitely helped it was nonfiction actually. I loved the description and evocation of the place and time, plus the various people we meet in it. Beautiful prose!
What is your most favorite and least favorite classics?
This is a very difficult question, even if I only consider here these 50 titles!
My most favorite of these 50 titles might well be Charlotte’s Web, for its beautiful prose and message. And I love so much the last line! Look at my review if you forgot that line. But obviously, there are tons of other titles I really enjoyed in this list.
As for the one I liked least, I’m also going to choose a children’s book. I was very disappointed by The Secret of the Old Clock, even though I was told I should appreciate the fact that this genre was almost revolutionary at the time. I’m not too sure I read it as a kid in France, so if I read it, apparently it didn’t impress me either at the time. Back then, I read the series by Enid Blyton, and loved it a lot!
What is your favorite character from a classic? Or if that is too hard, one is your favorite classic character trope (e.g. strong and silent, quiet sidekick, etc.)
Francie, in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I love her outlook on life, and how important books are in her life.
What’s a popular classic that you felt wasn’t actually that great?
Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers. I was rather disappointed, I didn’t like the social aspect of it. But I’m intrigued that the series is so popular, so I’ll give it another chance and plan to read volume 2.
Who is your favorite classic author?
I’m going to say Marcel Proust. Reading his whole In Search of Lost Time was a fantastic experience. It is so rich! And even if there are some boring passages, like an interminable meal lasting 50 pages or more, what’s really neat with Proust is that suddenly, when you are almost ready to give up, you bump into a real gem of a sentence. So don’t give up!
Actually the very last book is beautiful, with lots of fascinating pages on the art of writing. I now understand why a friend of mine starts reading it again when she’s done, I think she’s read it all 4 or 5 times. If I were younger, I would read it again, as there are so many connections between the different books that you cannot possibly see when you read it only once.
In your opinion, what makes a classic a classic?
I basically answered this question at the beginning. I think it’s a book with a universal message, universal as far as location and time. That whatever culture it was written in, it can apply to all. And whatever time it was created in, it is still meaning today, because it deals with some things that are very deep in our human psyche and life experience.
Relating to newer books, what attributes does a book need to have in order to be worthy of the title “classic”?
I would say the same as I answered in the previous question.
This could apply for instance to science-fiction classics, (I read The Martian Chronicles; We; Solaris) as they deal with our deep human need for connection with others, with our deep need to prove that we are not alone out there, as Arthur C. Clarke beautifully highlights in Childhood’s End, which I recently listened to (as my first book for my second list of 50 titles!).
Bonus question: Is there a classic you don’t seem to understand?
Yes, I have no clue what C. S. Lewis is really talking about in Till We Have Faces, even though I had a whole discussion with a reading group at my church on this book.
That’s it. Let me know
if you were surprised by some of my answers.
If you feel tempted by these questions,
please post your answers and give me your link.
I’m curious to see what YOU think