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post #1 of 44 (permalink) Old August 19th, 2005, 11:33 Thread Starter
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Classics You Read and Your Oppinions

I'd like to start this thread in order to share my oppinion with others about some books I've read and what I thought about them, and at the same time I hope that others can do the same and then recommend me what to read and not read. This is for classics, so "The DaVinci Code" is excluded.

Just finnished "One Hundred Years of Solitude" from Gabriel García Márquez and I like it. It's written in a very special way, and it's both entertaining, tragic and unsuspected things happen all the time. Alot of things that happen in the village they live in also happened in South America and the world at the time, it's like a historical journey through 100 years in time. Recommended.

I also love the sarcastic "Candide" from Voltaire. It's one of those few books I've even read twice. The sarcastic way it's written is hilarious yet sad.

Friedrich Nietzsche. Althought his book "Also Spracht Zarathustra" is the kind everyone should have read, it's pretty boring. As a child I always thought this book was about the Arian race, but it's far from it. It's a interesting book about how to life and do with your life, but the way it's written makes it both hard to understand and quite boring to read. Far from a novel, but a philosophic classic.

Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species" is not much funnier, sure it's far from a novel but a book about science that change the way people think. Funny?, not at all. Reminds me of a book from school.

Albert Camus, the fall. It starts with a long conversation then it goes on to reflections. It's only 100 pages long but not the most entertaining book from Camus I'd guess. Actually, not so much happen at all in this book.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's "The Gulag Archipelago" is a long long book about the horrifying, Gulag's in sovjet that killed millions of people under the Communist regime. The autor spend many years there himself and knows about everything about them. If you are interested in those, this is the book to read. You learn alot from it, my problem with it is that the chapters are too long and onesided. It's only a novel for about 50 pages, the rest of the somewhat 400 are discussing the prisons, the people in the prisons, the cells or the methods to questioning them. It's dull but interesting.


Franz Kafka. The Metamorphosis. Very good and deep book. Gloomy obviously, but it does give you a good preview of Kafka's writing style.

These are some "classic" I recall reading not too far ago, Let's hear others oppinions and experiences

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post #2 of 44 (permalink) Old August 19th, 2005, 11:58
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Alright, what about Dostoyevski's "Crime and punishment"? I'm a little disappointed by it. The first say 100 pages were written so carefully, meticulously, the focus being on the struggle in his mind. Then the author started drifting too far for my liking, bringing in all these different characters and their stories, some of which were not really significant to the protagonist. Probably the most excellent fragment was that conversation he had with the detective, that was really something. But it blows hot and cold I'd say, not enough intensity and focus for my liking. Unnecessarily long. Still a very refreshing read.

Having said that, the best book Ive read in years.

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post #3 of 44 (permalink) Old August 19th, 2005, 17:00
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Dostoievisky is a monster. Never touched a book that he wrote without feeling a "Wow" coming. Even those he clearly wrote just to pay debts and are more "superficial". My favorite is "Brothers Karamazov". In fact In many levels it is the perfect romance. The chapter named "the great inquisitor" is amazing. But I would not forget The Idiot or the "The Underground man" (not sure about the name in english however), a unlikely small book that first lead me to think that was one of the books he wrote to pay his debts but no. If you think Crime and Punishment was carefully written just see this book.
Which lead me to Kafka. Reading Kafka letter to his father or his intimate diary I got the feeling Kafka did not existed. No, Dostoievisky wrote him. But besides the usual suspects (The Process or metamorphosis), it is a great thing read Kafka's short stories (Which leads to Borges, but that can wait now). The Hunger Artist then is something made to make you frozen in time.
Another name that must be read, must be because some dumb notion of political correctness is putting this guy in the shadows again. Herman Melville. Moby Dick is awesome. Great. Suberb. But his other books. Benito Cereno would be enough to make any writer immortal. The horror and the atmosphere of this book are rivals to Poe's best momments. And Billy Budd is a masterpiece as well.
I would add that the russians rulled. Pushkin's short stories have such humor, impossible to not enjoy.
In other sense: Robert Louis Stevenson is a must read. His perfect rythim in his narratives and his great creativity in using elements from other stories and building characters are always a pleasure.
Not falling from the trip saying that Borges and Joyce, for the very different reasons are what someone must read to read the XX century's literature is not such a blasphemy. They are just the natural path you must follow after all those names. I know, saying you must read Joyce is somehow odd, because who read him anyways ?
If it is the classic classic we go, Ovid's Love Letters are really awesome. And running from Fiction, Dante never hurts, his Monarchy is a great work of style, precision and logic.

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post #4 of 44 (permalink) Old August 19th, 2005, 17:20
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Classics? Harry Potter 1, 2, 3...

ok kidding.



George Orwell's 1984. Unbelievably good on so many levels - as a political treatise, a bitter lament from a humanist, the last intellectual hurrah from a great author, the most influential linguistical development of his generation, as entertainment, as a romance, as a tragedy. A book that I've re-read 3 times and being surprised and delighted each time.

Dostoyevski - Brothers Karamazov. Everything you need to know about how to live and about life might be found in that book, maybe. I've also read One Hundred Years... must say the book was special, but nothing spectacular compared to that most magical of fantasies, Rushdie's Midnight's Children. Written in the first person, Midnight's Children like Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy will be popular literary novels forever of India and her birth.

Disliked Dickens, found Ullysses unreadable 5 years ago, wept over Wuthering Heights. One Man's Bible from Gao (the author who won the Nobel Prize with Soul Mountain) was incredible, a 'wow' book. Was strangely unmoved by War and Peace and Anna Kararena... and Voltaire as they say, is DA MAN.

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post #5 of 44 (permalink) Old August 19th, 2005, 17:21
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And you can't be serious, you read Nietzche too?

I was a bit scared really.

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post #6 of 44 (permalink) Old August 19th, 2005, 17:33
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Gunther Gras - Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum): A very good book, of which you will remember, Oscar, the main character for ever. The scene in the Onion Cellar is amazing as well/ Still at the end you have the idea tht Grass is trying too hard to incoporate as much of Germany's history (of that periode) in the book.

Louis Paul Boon - Kapellekesbaan (Chapel Road): Not that well known outside Belgium as I understood, but a standard work of post-war prose. One of the most interesting books when it comes to form, but the story of Ondinneke is heartbreaking as wel as fabulous too.

Ivan Goncharov - Oblomov: Since it's fancy to name an old Russian author here is my favourite. Oblomov as the ultimate incarnation of the superfluous man, has always had a negative connotation to him. I deeply resent that
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post #7 of 44 (permalink) Old August 19th, 2005, 18:30
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Has anyone mentioned Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" yet? It's something one needs to read several times in one's life (I know, the first time we all fell asleep and drooled on the pages; and the second time, we propped that nasty love letter inside and pretend we're deep in thoughts in class; then the third, fourth, fifth times came and went, and suddenly you're feeling the monster tucking at the other end) because it is ... very much the essence of life. And yeah, J, it is from within those pages that one knows there's no fish in Argentina.

Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast" is, of course, the easier read, just make sure you don't trust everything in the book and end up in Paris.

Thomas Mann's "Death in Venice." I am happy a decent movie was made from this title but. This is one rare instance when written words triumph over images.

Voltaire's "Dictionaries" say it all.

Friedrich Nietzsche and "Zarathustra" is another tome one needs to read again and again during the course of life. And in between readings, read about Nietzche's own life, his letters. Look at the pictures of all those entwined in his existence. You will understand why Michel Foucault wrote what he wrote.

"A Vindication For the Rights of Women" by Mary Wollstoncroft. Very difficult read; especially from a 21st Century angle. But I am indebted to her experience and cold, crisps words as she carved out an avenue for change. Without Wollstonecroft, there will never be Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, George Sand, Colette, Dorothy Parker, Eileen Chang, Susan Sontag, Margaret Atwood ...

And to change the subject slightly. Read the preface to "The Portrait of Dorian Gray."

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post #8 of 44 (permalink) Old August 19th, 2005, 21:51
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One Hundred Years of Solitude - very interesting, but a tad tedious at times.

Jane Austen - Jane Eyre was all right, Mansfield Park bored me to tears. Not likely to venture into her other works.

Great Expectations - was not particularly enamoured with Dickens' style.

Dostoyevsky - did his Notes from Underground back in university, was fairly interesting, but a little boring. Did not manage to finish The Brothers Karamazov. My dad liked Crime & Punishment, though.

Wuthering Heights - liked it, but am not likely to revisit it anytime soon.

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post #9 of 44 (permalink) Old August 20th, 2005, 02:37
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One Hundred Years of Solitude is toward the top of my list of favorite books.

Also:

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. I love it because it's a great pastiche of the typical 19th century novel and the character of Emma is a great mockery of the typical 19th century heroine. I would mention The Sentimental Education, but Flaubert did his job perhaps too well--I became frustrated to the point of fury at Frédéric Moreau's mediocrity, so I never quite finished it.

Dangerous Liasons. Awesome book, also spoke volumes about the state of education for young girls in 18th century society.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck are other ones I liked.

Finally, I have to give a mention to The Heptameron by Marguerite de Navarre...never mind. That work and the Reformation is most likely going to end up my thesis topic, and to avoid boring you to death, I won't discuss it further.

Oh yeah, Bonita! Don't forget about George Eliot!

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By that logic, we should shove dead people back inside their mothers, so they'd be ending their lives exactly where they started. But of course, we would need to get a doctor to slap the corpse on the butt before putting it back inside the mother's womb.
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post #10 of 44 (permalink) Old August 20th, 2005, 03:56
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Oh, Madam, Hemingway is not among my youth writings to develop such relationship but when you talked about Thoman Mann I would like to remember Doktor Faustus...It is more fun if you also read Goethe and Marlowe's Fauts and perhaps Chamisso's story about the man who sold his shadow. That is like 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 ...

Now, Captain, Frankestein, one funny thing about it is thinking about Hannah Arendt writings about responsability and education in the moderm days...

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post #11 of 44 (permalink) Old August 20th, 2005, 08:38
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Anyone read Nabokov assassin critics towards Dostoievsky?..I've never read either one of his works, less the critics, but might be interesting since is not a moron the one charging on the russian, someone agree with him?



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...the great mary in my pantheon with Yourcenar

Is already Pynchon a classic? I like this sick bastard, I think is call empathy..without the talent of course

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post #12 of 44 (permalink) Old August 20th, 2005, 08:40
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another thing, I'm soooo tempted to say that Gabo, even being very good, is so overrated hehehe...give a chance to Cortazar, Vargas LLosa from the boom (no Sabato BTW), and the old master ALejo Carpentier the master of spanish language with Quevedo).

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post #13 of 44 (permalink) Old August 20th, 2005, 15:16
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Madame Bovary (although, for my money both A Sentimental Education and Bovard Et Pechuchet--which isn't even finished--are better0, but i only read it after I read Julian Barnes, which makes me kind of a loser.
Anna Karenina, The Master and Margarita, Dead Souls and The Unbearable Lightness of Being...they are all as good as advertised.
Greed by Frank Norris is great, but that may just be because it is set in San Francisco.
We had to read Huckleberry Finn in highschool, but, honestly, alls I remember is the phrase "Clo' de Do', Huck!" and the fact that the Duke and Dauphine were disreputable characters.
Dickens I could never get through with a straight face. He was the Maeve Binchey of his day! Plus, they'd make us read through Nicholas Nickelby, having someone read the stage directions, which is just retarded. Honestly, the way to read a play is to act it. I never got Shakespeare until I had to play a part. Many of the comedies and history plays are great...Romeo And Juliet, despite the fact I still remember all the lines, not so much.
The greek dramas are all worth reading, especially Aristophenes, since he's still funny. The Oresteia, too.
I really liied the so-called 20th Century's Greatest novels: Ullysses (although I dare you to try Finnegan's Wake), The Magic Mountain etc. Hemingway, I don't like. John Dos Passos is ripe for re-evaluation, though. USA is definately good. The Great Gatsby exists so that we can all realize we will never ever write that well. But, on the whole, IMO, Kay Boyle is the best writer of that generation.
Chapel Road is a very fine book and I wouldn't have ever heard about it if it weren't for the very persuasive nature of our friend above, but I will never read the fellow's other books unless I learn Dutch and that ain't happening. Pity.

You know the scene it's very hum-drum
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post #14 of 44 (permalink) Old August 20th, 2005, 15:52 Thread Starter
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Nice to see so many people replying!

If I hadn't University coming up now, I'd probably go for Dostoyevsky "Brothers Karamazov" now, it seems to be a very interesting book.


I agree with you Bonita about Nietzsche, his book defenitely need to be read a few times. It does deliever a valauble message to the reader, just that is too deep and philosophical. I wonder how he was capable of coming up with all that. "The Old Man and the Sea" might not be as deep, but you need to read it a few times too. I also heard that it was a bore from most people that read it.

I also agree with Jun that Marquez may be a bit repetitive, it's a whole lot of names andf furtunes to remember in that book

Sam!, what about the Frenhies, Zola, Hugo, Camus and Sartre, I know you have read some of their books too

Anyone read Gothe's "The Sorrows of Young Werther" it's suppost to be one of tne 18th century's greratest books.

I have read "Why I Am Not a Christian" from Bertrand Russell aswell, it's more of a essay then a book but interesting to read his oppinions just the same.

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post #15 of 44 (permalink) Old August 20th, 2005, 18:02
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BTW if it's about Marquez Ialwyas prefered 'Love in times of cholera', over '100 years of solitude'
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post #16 of 44 (permalink) Old August 20th, 2005, 19:14
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Quote:
Ullysses (although I dare you to try Finnegan's Wake),
I am avoiding Finnegan's Wake as much i am atracted to it, but I refuse to read it in portuguese. There is no meaning to do it. But Ulisses is really a challenge. The way Joyce's words seems to float and run and spin...what a book...

Nasty Nick:

Quote:
what about the Frenhies, Zola, Hugo, Camus and Sartre, I know you have read some of their books too
My relation with Sartre started with a left feet. When I was about 13 my mother game me The Imagination with a "since you are so creative"...I had no idea of what that was, nothing. That make me avoid Sartre for years and years

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post #17 of 44 (permalink) Old August 20th, 2005, 19:50
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I liked The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Immortality. I usually have no quarrels with Milan Kundera's works. I also like Shakespeare's plays, though it's unfortunate I never really managed to study all of them.

I also enjoyed Umberto Eco's Il Nome della Rosa, although it got a little tedious in the middle. I recall reading a bit of E M Forster's stuff, those were okay. Read only one of Italo Calvino's works (If on a winter's night a traveller), but liked its intensity.



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The Great Gatsby exists so that we can all realize we will never ever write that well.
Really? I thought it was a piece of crap.

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post #18 of 44 (permalink) Old August 20th, 2005, 20:54
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Quote:
The Great Gatsby exists so that we can all realize we will never ever write that well
change that for Foucalt (and a bunch) talking about Borges, then read Carpentier.

So no one read Nabokov (I sense some badspelling here)?, specially about his critics towards Dostoviesky.

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post #19 of 44 (permalink) Old August 20th, 2005, 21:33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jun-Lei
.

Jane Austen - Jane Eyre was all right, Mansfield Park bored me to tears. Not likely to venture into her other works.
Jane Eyre isn't a Jane Austen book, it's written by Charlotte Bronte, one of the three Bronte sisters.

To judge Jane Austen you should read Sense and sensibility, Pride and Predjudice, Emma also. You found Mansfield Park boring? Her books are pearls of the british literature for the excellent language she uses, not to mention the brillant description of victorian England.

Hemingway - one of my fave author's as well and Bonita, I've read it for 5 times at least untill now. My fave from Hemingway are For whom the bell tolls and Farewell to arms.

Anybody mentioned William Faulkner yet? Probably his best novel is The American tragedy.

Very good female author - Pearl Buck. I've read almost her whole opus and i love especially her novels bound on China and the chinese empire.

Excellent book from the Balkan area is for sure The bridge on Drina from Ivo Andric.

Almost forgot to mention Sigrid Undset's Kristin, the Lavran's daughter (is probably more popular among the female readers), John Knittel's Via Mala and John Steinbeck's East from Eden.

My fave classics so far.
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post #20 of 44 (permalink) Old August 20th, 2005, 22:22
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Quote:
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Sam!, what about the Frenhies, Zola, Hugo, Camus and Sartre, I know you have read some of their books too
I have, but with the exception of The Plague by Camus and maybe No Exit by Sartre (okay, and Balzac's Old Goriot), I like the other ones I've listed by French authors better.

What to say about Zola? I thought Germinal was brilliant, but on the whole, he plays with the notion of genetic determinism too much for my comfort.

George Sand, I think, had a much less cynical deconstruction of the novel than did Flaubert. While Flaubert's purpose was to mock the novel by writing maginificent elogies to mediocrity (or should I say banality?), Sand challenged the notion of predestination of the tragic hero in her works. Take Little Fadette for example--it starts out simple enough, on the premise that one is defined by their social niche, but by the end, none of the characters stayed in their proscribed roles.

And you thought One Hundred Years of Solitude was repetitive with the names? That's part of the device of Márquez in character development--with the exception of the twins, the José Arcadios and the Aurelianos all became defined both spirtually and physically by their names. The last Buendía (Meme's son--not the baby that died while the town was being blown away) was the synthesis of the two names, and thus became the synthesis of the two characteristics.

Quote:
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By that logic, we should shove dead people back inside their mothers, so they'd be ending their lives exactly where they started. But of course, we would need to get a doctor to slap the corpse on the butt before putting it back inside the mother's womb.

Last edited by Phoenix; August 20th, 2005 at 22:46.
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