All-Time Favourite Classics #4

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Wahey we made it to part 4!! As I said in the first week, I’m going to pause this series after this post, though I’d like to continue it someday. For now though, I’m working with a more “realistic” (*ahem* mostly) theme to round off these favourite classics:

canterbury talesCanterbury Tales– I was endlessly surprised to find how realistic the characters in this were- not least because this was written OVER 600 YEARS AGO! And yet the fundamentals of human nature haven’t changed. What is also incredible is how complex and layered each of the stories are, how they tales interplay with their role in the prologue and how this all builds up the character study even more.

 

great expectationsGreat Expectations– ahh the king of realism- Dickens. And this happens to be my favourite I’ve read so far. A part of this comes down to how much I adore the story- and yet I find that somewhat imperfect- not intentionally so (I just prefer Dicken’s original ending where *spoiler alert* he doesn’t end up with Estella, it made more sense from a narrative standpoint). But mostly, because I cannot get over that image of Miss Havisham, sitting in her wedding dress. It’s both tragic and horrifying.

 

catcher in the ryeCatcher in the Rye– this one will surprise people straight off the bat, because it is such a Love-it or Hate-it book. I for one won’t pretend that I liked Holden Caulfield- in fact I spent a good deal of time disliking him- and yet… there was something so compelling about him. I could not deny the realistic tenor to his character. Nor could I say that I didn’t grow sympathetic to him over the course of the book. That change struck me and took me by surprise- it felt like getting to know an actual person. Yes he may be whiny and difficult on the surface- however strip away the layers and there is so much more to him. So feel free to love him or hate him, but you can’t deny that this book captures something very real.

 

to kill a mockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird– I genuinely do not have any words for this book. The realistic characters, the finest fictional father figure of all time, the story, the beautiful writing, the message- ah it makes me speechless. If you do not know why it is on this list, then quite simply you haven’t read it.

 

 

king learKing Lear– okay, yes I’m following with a shall-we-say less good fictional father? (yes, I will admit I didn’t know what book to put next). But on the positive side this play made me cry… wait a second… JK- what I mean is this is a deeply moving play (not that I’m a masochist who seeks out stories that will make me cry… okay I totally do that- whatever 😉 )

 

brothers karamazovBrother’s Karamazov– speaking of dysfunctional families (gosh I ought to make a “favourite dysfunctional families” list) In all seriousness, this book is magnificent- not least because this has some MAGNIFICENT characterisation. I have to say that I love the intellectual tussles between Ivan and Alyosha (#teamAlyosha… which is weird because I should rightly pick Ivan… whatever I’ll psychoanalyse that comment later 😉 ). Incidentally, anyone that knows me might be surprised to have found no Dostoevsky’s my favourites so far- never fear, this part has three- pahahaha!

 

hamletHamlet– but if what you’re looking for is philosophical questions, why not get to the crux of the existential issue. To be or not to be– damn I get shivers from that speech every time. There’s a reason it’s quoted a million times. And sure, Hamlet might procrastinate for half the play about whether to avenge his father, but all his romps through faux madness and his eventual spurts of violence are so worth it… err… sort of. Stay in school kids.

 

waiting for godotWaiting for Godot– well since we’re on the subject of existential despair, we may as well go in for a penny in for a pound. And okay, this slightly surreal play is kind of the opposite of the realism theme I’ve been leaning towards here. Despite the strangeness of the play, however, it’s very clear that the themes it plays with- the passage between life and death- are very tangible issues. Some could say the most real of all. And of course, I could give any number of reasons for this being on the list- but what I will say is that what makes this play special is how it makes you feel alive with laughter one minute, and then, all of a sudden the warmth fades away, and you are left with nothing but a chill.

 

notes from undergroundNotes from the Underground– I actually studied this for a “Novel and the Collapse of Humanism” course (I know, cheery stuff). Here Dostoevsky explores the paradoxical nature of man- both alien and atypical of his society. It is a work of pure genius- exhibiting the internal chaos of humankind- as we struggle to find our place in the world (and if you’re in any doubt as to how seriously cool this book is, this 19th century book smashes through the fourth wall, like a Deadpool comic)

 

idiotThe Idiot– and yet it is The Idiot which probably takes the spot as my favourite Dostoevsky. I’ve mentioned time and again how I love the hero, Prince Myshkin (#relationshipgoals), because he is one of the most saintly characters ever written… and that’s his greatest failing. Which leads me onto my rather bizarre favourite thing about this book- it kind of fizzles out at the end- yes, it’s unintentional, but that’s what I like about it- it’s a failed book about failure.

 

judeJude the Obscure– okay, let’s be honest, if we’re going to talk “doomed from the start”, Jude really takes the biscuit. I’m not saying that this is a dark book, I’m saying THIS IS THE MOST DEPRESSING THING I HAVE EVER READ IN MY LIFE. I really don’t blame people for not liking this one to be fair- nonetheless, for me, this is one of the most memorable books I have ever read. I can never shake the images it has planted in my brain. So I guess all that’s left to say is: hey Jude, don’t be afraid… watch out for women who try to trap you in marriage, just sayin’

 

richard iiiRichard III– okay to leave off on a more positive note- let’s talk about someone who actually deserved to get their comeuppance. Cos let’s face it, from the opening speech, we can be certain Richard’s the baddie. And I know, I know, some historians and novelists have tried to rewrite the character in a more sympathetic light BUT there’s no following Shakespeare. He is “determined to prove a villain”- and what a villain he is! Too bad he couldn’t get hold of a horse.

Previous Posts:

All-Time Favourite Classics #1

All-Time Favourite Classics #2

All-Time Favourite Classics #3

I will admit that over the course of these posts I did add to this list, but I’ve decided to give it a rest for now. Anyway, have you read any of these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

104 thoughts on “All-Time Favourite Classics #4

  1. Yeah, I preferred Dicken’s original ending as well. But, the masses want a happy ending, so a happy ending they got! BBC did a recent adaptation of Great Expectations with Gillian Anderson as Miss Haversham and while the movie departed from the book in some extraneous details, it really caught the spirit of it imo.

    I am glad to see all the Shakespeare plays as well. Things to look forward to 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Not a huge fan of Hamlet personally, but I do agree with you on To Kill a Mockingbird, it truly is an amazing piece of literature. Have you read Go Set the Watchman? I’ve heard mixed thoughts and so I never found the courage to pick it up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahh, these are all classics I haven’t read and I can’t really say I plan to read either. But at the same time they’re all classics I’ve heard great things about so even though they’re not really my thing I can see why they made your list! 🙂
    Great post. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t know how, but I have literally every single one of these books on my TBR. I haven’t gotten around to reading any of them yet, but oh my lord, am I excited to. Great post! Love this series by the way, it’s really cool 😀

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  5. You know, usually I point out that one book that I have read and liked despite it being a classic … well, not today! What do I do? hahaha I have tried reading Hamlet I think and Great Expectations … I legit have never surpassed the first paragraph … which is basically only the first sentence. Why am I so detached from classics? XD

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  6. Great Expectations is one of my favorite classics of all time! It just made my heart ache so much. And same, I cried with King Lear; so poetically tragic. And I love your defense of Catcher in the Rye! Characters don’t need to be likable in order to be relatable, and Holden is definitely an example of that. Terrific list! 😀

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  7. Oh yes very much have I read a good chunk of these! I don’t know if you remember cause it was like a year a go but I posted my own cantebury tale I did in high school poetry writing cause I took that in tandem with the Shakespeare class. Huge nerd can you tell? 😂 Plus I always think of A Knights Tale and Geoffry Chaucer’s fantastic character. Looooove To kill a mockingbird in fact I have 2 paper copies of that book. Great set of classics posts!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay I’m so glad!! Oh that’s so cool that you got to do classes on those!! (hehe no worries, I’ve always been a nerd 😉 ) hehe oh yes, I relate!! Ah I understand- my copy is so worn out that if it falls apart anymore I’ll have to get a new one (but my copy’s so covered in annotations, there’s no way I’d throw it out to make room 😂) Thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. AH! I love Great Expectations! Especially Herbert Pocket. Miss Havisham is such a dark, fascinating character and the image of her that Dickens creates, in her dilapidated wedding gown is so remarkable and haunting.
    I’ve seen something like four different versions of Hamlet. The character (of Hamlet) is so complex and I love seeing how different actors interpret and portray him.

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  9. You’ve read quite a few classics! My list would be pretty short. I haven’t read any of the ones you mentioned, but I feel bad for never having read To Kill a Mockingbird. We were supposed to in school but the teachers chose a different book.

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  10. I read catcher in the rye when i was around 15… i remember i liked it a lot, and i vaguely remember the main character, but i honestly couldn’t tell what exactly happened. Probably time for a re-read after 20 years 😀

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  11. I felt the same way about The Cather in the Rye… I might not *like* Holden Caulfield as a character, but reading about him is somehow so interesting! Also, I adore all of these posts about classics ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I loved King Lear too! Yes, it was depressing but also filled with wisdom and still relevant today. I am now reading Hamlet.
    Very inspiring post – I will go and look at the rest of this series 🙂

    Like

  13. I love Dostoevsky but I’ve never been able to read any of his books more than once.
    I do remember a quote from The Brothers Karamazov that’s always haunted me: Such grief does not desire consolation, it feeds on the sense of its own hopelessness. Lamentations spring only from the constant desire to re-open the wound.

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  14. I love Hamlet, To Kill a Mockingbird and Great Expectations. I have the exact opposite feeling when it comes to The Catcher in the Rye. I really want to read the Canterbury tales as well as Richard III and King Lear! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I grew up reading Dostoyevsky.
    I love the Russian classical authors. So moody, so full of complex characters.

    I have To Kill a Mockingbird on my TBR list – still haven’t read it but it will happen! 😊

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  16. The Canterbury tales! I read them at uni and remember not being as bored as I thought! Some really funny stuff there and a cool concept. Actually worth a re-read one day.

    ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is still on my list and I am curious about ‘Jude the Obscure’ now, as I have no idea what it’s about. I’ve seen you mention it in the past and I kinda want to know what the most depressing book ever is like 😀 Maybe I will drink a bottle of wine, while I am reading it? Does it make it better? Or worse?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well that’s great! And I agree with you 🙂

      Ah well I hope you read both of them 🙂 Jude is about someone who has dreams of going to university… but it’s a tragedy so it’s not quite as positive as that sounds 😉 heheheh that’s a great question! Honestly? It can’t hurt!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I didn’t read To Kill a Mocking Bird until I was in my 20’s. I wish this was a novel we read in highschool. There is so much you can get out of this book. Clearly a classic for a reason. But I also hate Catcher in the Rye, and I see why some people love it but just not me it seems haha.

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  18. For a second there I misread Richard III as Richard II and thought, “That’s the first time I’ve seen someone declare their love of Richard II….” 😉 I have the Benedict Cumberbatch Richard III sitting in my room, waiting for me to watch it. Have you seen it? Any thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hehehe weirdly enough, I have a cousin whose favourite is Richard II and I see why, it’s beautifully written 😉 ooh cool- I haven’t seen that version, hope you like it and would love to hear what you think of it!

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      1. Fair enough! I just watched the first Henry VI and, while I see why most people don’t read the play, I have to admit the language is gorgeous. Sadly, I had to return it to the library (some weird person kept putting it on hold. Who puts Henry VI on hold?!), so I can’t watch part two and Richard III till I get it back. 😀

        But I saw Richard II in the first Hollow Crown and I thought it was really powerful. I loved how they filmed it. They suggested Richard II as sort of a sacrificial Christ-like figure, which I thought was interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Pretty epic list you got in this one! I have Great Expectations waiting after me and definitely look forward to trying it out as my next Dickens adventure. Also love that Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird is on here!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Ha, I remember Catcher in the Rye from the school curriculum and out of a class of 18 of us, I was the only one who seriously liked the book and welcomed the discussion. ah, but that’s eons ago now… pfft…
    Hamlet- another one of those school ones- we had to actually learn by heart a bit about that book and perform it in front of a class… worst day of my life 😀 hahaha
    And The Idiot- I really wanted to like the book but it bored me… I wonder if I got a copy of it in my own language, I would be able to connect a bit better?! Anyway, totally going to check out Notes from the Underground!
    *Love this feature, by the way* 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hehehe that seems to be the way for a lot of people- so many people end up not liking it.
      Oh gosh- I’d have *hated* that- I seriously *loathe* public speaking!
      Ah fair enough. I hope that will help! But I will say it wouldn’t be surprising if you didn’t like it- I have a huge soft spot for it, but it’s not technically Dostoevsky’s best!
      But definitely give Notes a go- it’s much shorter and really excellent by all measures!
      Thank you so much!!

      Like

  21. I agree with you on The Canterbury Tales and Hamlet, but not on Great Expectations or To Kill a Mockingbird. I couldn’t enjoy either of those two. I guess it just goes to show that all tastes are different!

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