Classics Meme

July 10, 2008 at 8:00 am | Posted in Books, LIfe, Reading | 7 Comments
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S. Krishna tagged me with a meme about Classics. This should be fun! Here are my responses:

1) What is the best classic you were “forced” to read in school (and why)?

For the sake of this response, I’m going to only consider classics required during high school. Since I was an English major, I won’t include any of my college or graduate courses. I would only have myself to blame for those. 🙂

The Great Gatsby was by far the best classic I was “forced” to read in school. In fact, it was studying this novel that really ignited my passion for reading and studying literature. There was something about the symbolism of those eyes on the billboard that I couldn’t escape. To this day I love absolutely everything about this novel.

2) What was the worst classic you were forced to endure (and why)?

Without a doubt, it was The Heart of Darkness.  While very short, this book made me want to jab toothpicks into my eyeballs to escape it.  It was the most dull and boring book I’ve ever had to read until I had to read Moby Dick.  I absolutely hated that one, too – but that was during college. 😉

3) Which classic should every student be required to read (and why)?

There are several books I would include in this list: To a God Unknown, The Pearl, The Old Man and the Sea, The Scarlett Letter, and, of course, The Great Gatsby.

I didn’t read Steinbeck’s To a God Unknown until I was preparing for my semester of teacher assisting.  I found it to be a wonderful book.  I think that the other three are pretty standard.  My mother hated The Old Man and the Sea, but I’ve always loved it.  It might be too much for a literal reader, but I took long, soothly hot baths in the symbolism to be found and enjoyed in all four of these books.

Which classic should be put to rest immediately (and why)?

Moby Dick out to be put out of its misery.  The same holds true for The Heart of Darkness.  Conrad and Melville do absolutely nothing for me.  I’ve got nothing against books about man versus the elements.  I loved The Old Man and the Sea for crying out loud!  The symbolism in those books couldn’t save them for me.

**Bonus** Why do you think certain books become classics?

This is a tough question.  My gut reaction is that books that timelessly speak deeply and truthfully to the human experience and are well written are those most likely to become classics.  The best examples of each type of literary genre will also make this list.  What are your thoughts?

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  1. I still haven’t figured out why I married someone who doesn’t like “Moby Dick”! To all the single people out there, please make sure that your Spouse Compatibility Survey (SCS) covers ALL the important subjects before your fiance fills it out.

    I mean, this horrible abberation didn’t even come to light in our friggin’ MARRIAGE PREP CLASSES!!! 😉

  2. There is more than one way to catch your Moby Dick… 😉

  3. Great questions leading to a great post. Good Job. I agree with you about Great Gatsby and about Moby Dick.

  4. Thanks, Jay! I’m glad to hear that there are men out there who did not care for Moby Dick.

  5. Bah, maybe it’s just because I didn’t have the framework of a high school English class to go with it, but I really, really disliked The Great Gatsby when I listened to it a few years ago. I’ll give it a few years and try again.

    I always got the one English teacher who went out on a limb for their syllabi, so I’ve since been trying to play catch-up with the classics I missed… and some have worked better than others. 🙂

  6. You really cannot discount the impact a wonderful teacher will have on a reading experience. I know that my Junior English teacher was awesome, at least for me. I also think my love for James Joyce can equally be attributed to his writing as it is to my college professor.

  7. Very nice!!


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