Despite having always been a big reader, I really do feel that I haven’t read enough classics. I’ve obviously felt this way for a while, having set up my Classics Challenge a few years ago. My recent re-read and following love for Jane Eyre has only served to remind me that there are so many wonderful classics out there that I need to hurry up and read! I wanted to share some of those with you today, and would love to know if you’ve read any of them, and what you thought.
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Scorned for her lack of money and breeding, Becky Sharp must use all her wit, charm and considerable sex appeal to escape her drab destiny as a governess. From London’s ballrooms to the battlefields of Waterloo, the bewitching Becky works her wiles on a gallery of memorable characters, including her lecherous employer, Sir Pitt, his rich sister, Miss Crawley, and Pitt’s dashing son, Rawdon, the first of Becky’s misguided sexual entanglements. Vanity Fair is a richly entertaining comedy that asks the reader, “Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?”
Having recently re-watched the film adaptation of Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray and starring Reese Witherspoon, I was yet again questioning why I still haven’t read this. It’s witty and satirical, and I really enjoyed the film. Becky is a wonderful character and a total breath of fresh air compared to many of the female characters of her day. She’s determined, intelligent – and she knows how to use her gender as a weapon for her own benefit. The only thing that’s putting me off at the moment is the length of the book – around 750 pages. But I won’t know until I try, right?
The Odyssey by Homer
The Odyssey recounts the story of Odysseus’ return to Ithaca from the Trojan war and tells how, championed by Athene and hounded by the wrathful sea-god Poseidon, Odysseus encounters the ferocious Cyclops, escapes Scylla and Charybdis and yields temporarily to the lures of Circe and Calypso before he overcomes the trials awaiting him on Ithaca. Only then is he reunited with his faithful wife Penelope, his wanderings at an end.
Oops. I know, I know. Having done my Bachelors degree in Ancient History and Archaeology, I probably should have already read The Odyssey, right? Well… I haven’t. Yet. I have read The Iliad though, and really love that one. I have this on my Kindle, but I also have a gorgeous Penguin edition which I’d much rather read than the ebook version.
The Monk by Matthew Lewis
Set in the sinister monastery of the Capuchins in Madrid, The Monk is a violent tale of ambition, murder, and incest. The great struggle between maintaining monastic vows and fulfilling personal ambitions leads its main character, the monk Ambrosio, to temptation and the breaking of his vows, then to sexual obsession and rape, and finally to murder in order to conceal his guilt.
I can’t remember how I first came across The Monk by Matthew Lewis, but I knew that I had to read it. Although looking at the blurb now, that seems like a strange thing to say… That was over three years ago, and I still haven’t made any progress. I feel like it might be quite a difficult one to read, but as long as it’s not The Scarlet Letter standards of difficult (WORST. BOOK. EVER.) then I’m good.
The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray sells his soul in exchange for eternal youth and beauty. Under the influence of Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life, where he is able to indulge his desires while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only Dorian’s picture bears the traces of his decadence.
Ahh, The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde, I have attempted to read you before. I was foolishly swayed by the film version starring Ben Barnes, but you’re not really much like that, are you? I did enjoy what I read of the book (around half of it), but somehow never quite finished it.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father ― a crusading local lawyer ― risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.
To be honest, I’m really quite amazed that we never read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee at school – I know it was studied in previous years. Despite my love of books set in the Southern US (I really don’t know why… I blame True Blood and that enchanting Louisiana accent), I’ve just never gotten round to reading this classic.