Monday, November 28, 2016

Back to the Classics 2016: Challenge Wrap-Up Post

To guide and focus my reading, to challenge myself a little, and to provide a model of lifelong learning to my kids I've participated in several reading challenges this year. One of those was the Back to the Classics Challenge 2016, hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate.To complete this challenge I had to read one classic in at least six of the twelve categories provided, and then blog about each one. I opted to complete all twelve categories. While I finished reading some time ago, I have only now finally finished blogging about each title. All that's left to do is post this wrap-up post and then I'll be in the draw to win the prize Karen is generously offering.

Without further ado here's what I read for each category and my overall assessment. Just click on the category to go to the full review.

1.  A 19th Century Classic  - I ended up appreciating Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities but initially struggled with the fact it was less character focused than some of his novels I'd previously read.
2.  A 20th Century Classic - Mrs Dalloway by Victoria Wolf was a little confusing due to it's stream of consciousness style. And it's overall tone was bleak, but it did give me plenty to think about.
3.  A classic by a woman author  - I read The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson and recommend savouring the poems slowly rather than reading them in one concentrated go like I did.
4.  A classic in translation - I thought Aristophanes's Lysistrata was a fun and easy read but not suitable for those offended by bawdiness and sexual innuendo.
5.  A classic by a non-white author -  The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki was a real surprise, mainly because I had never heard of it before reading it. I'm glad I took the leap of faith. 
6.  An adventure classic - The prize for my least favourite  classic of the year went to Herman Melville's Moby Dick.
7.  A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic - I found Jules Verne's  Journey to the Centre of the Earth to be quick and relatively engaging but overall I was somewhat ambivalent, perhaps underwhelmed.
8.  A classic detective novel - I really enjoyed The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.The plot, characters, theme, structure and ending all worked for me.
9.  A classic which includes the name of a place in the title - Challenging in places, especially at the beginning, but worth the time and effort. That's my verdict on Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

10. A classic which has been banned or censored  I enjoyed John Steinbeck's East of Eden as a family saga, but thought it's allegorical aspect was heavy handed and over done.
11. Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college) -  Despite having ambiguous feelings about the title character I still enjoyed rereading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
12. A volume of classic short stories  - The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury is a little dated but still has much to offer a range of readers, not just sci-fi fans.

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