Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Classic English Novel Kick

In recent times, I've been getting more into classic English novels again. I remember one of my favorite college classes was an English novel class in which I discovered Vanity Fair, Middlemarch, Jane Eyre, Moll Flanders, and Jane Austen. (However, I rather disliked what little I read of Wuthering Heights and wasn't crazy about Hardy's Jude the Obscure or Dickins's Hard Times, both of which I believe I finished. The one bit of unfinished business from that class was Tom Jones, a thick novel that I enjoyed but didn't get very far into.)

Anyway, what's gotten me into these novels again is that I've been watching dramatizations of them, mainly produced by BBC. The guys here at work tease me about it, but I just totally love those shows. Right now we're doing Dickins's Bleak House and I'm doing Middlemarch, and both are almost thrillingly good. I suppose I love the combination of the setting, the bygone English culture, the accents, the good characterization, and the wonderful performances. I even love the Jane Austen ones, which just makes my male coworkers hoot and holler with derision. But I am what I am.

I recently ordered Vanity Fair—which is perhaps my favorite of them all—and Middlemarch to read again, which is a rare step for me because I practically never reread novels. And I'd really like to get my Dickins on and work my way through him. Though Hard Times didn't particularly impress me, a couple of years ago I was unexpectedly taken with David  Copperfield, which I started reading just by random chance and couldn't put down, and I think I'll try to pick up Bleak House this year, though it's dauntingly thick and the first few pages I browsed last night featured rather long, complex sentences that zonked me out pretty quick. (As I get older, I find that reading puts me to sleep disconcertingly fast.)


Anonymous said...

I hear you clucking, big chicken. I too have gotten into English literature recently. My mother-in-law, an inveterate reader and academic, had me buy her a bunch of literature on the internet for her Palm. Fortunately for me, I have the same model, so I was able to download all of her purchases onto mine. I literally have hundreds of classic works in the palm of my hand. Whenever I have a spare moment I crack one open. It's pretty awesome.

Melanie Goldmund said...

Make sure you keep an eye out on your local PBS station for a wonderful adaptation of Little Dorrit, coming in April, I think. And don't forget Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, Cranford, or Wives and Daughters!

Anonymous said...

Your comments have given me the courage to start re-using a purse and sitting down to urinate. Thanks big brother.

Anonymous said...

Hey CB, I just started Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell because I've heard it's charming, or some other positive adjective. Remember the girl in Middlemarch whose neck was like a lily on a stem? And Vanity Fair, that you suggested to me, was great! Those were nice reading times. Kathryn

Anonymous said...

Also try Dickens' "Our Mutual Friend." One of his last, and one of my all time favorite novels. There's also a VERY good BBC adaptation of that of that one. If you haven't read "A Tale of Two Cities," that one is a must.
BBC Period dramas are also a favorite of mine and my wife's. The "Bleak House" your watching is the newest, right? It's marvelous! We've also been really surprised with how much we've enjoyed "He Knew He Was Right," "The Way We Live Now," and the "Barchester Chronicles," all adapted from Anthony Trollope's novels. Don't know who Anthony Trollope is? Neither did I, but I do now!