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Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Discussion: Classics Revisited

Later this afternoon, my book group is meeting to discuss Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.  I am not a huge Austen fan, but I do enjoy periodically going back to read "classic" titles especially if I am going to have a chance to discuss them with others.

I like thinking about the book's place in its time.  What was going on when it was written?  What was the author trying to say about his or her time?

I then like to think about the book's relevance today.  Why do we still read it? Does it still apply to me and my time? What would today's reader get out of reading it now?

Now, please remember, I am not talking about historical fiction here.  I am talking about books that were written in the past and are still being read today.

Personally, I like reading classic titles from 18th Century America and on into the early years of the 20th Century.  I most enjoy if they were written as a contemporary novel of their time, so like Little Women for example.

I also have enjoyed revisiting classic titles that I was assigned in school and rereading them at a different, more mature point in my life.

One of my favorite classics is To Kill a Mockingbird.  I have read it about 4 times now, and have discussed it with my group.  Every time I read it, I find something new in it.  Something new about the era in which it was written, something new about how much we have changed as a society, yet how much we have stayed the same too, and something new about myself.

As I mentioned above, I am not a huge Austen fan, but I haven't read Sense and Sensibility since I was in high school.  Rereading it and preparing for the discussion has been a positive experience.  I have come to appreciate the novel as more than the fluff about idle women with little to do but gossip and worry about boys, which is how I saw it then.  It still is not my "cup of tea," (and it is still how I described it in the previous sentence) but I better understand and appreciate why and  how it is written the way it is.

You can look for my full book discussion report later this week.

So what abut you? Do you enjoy revisiting classics? What can you share about your experiences?

For past Monday Discussions, click here.


John BPL RA said...

One of my favorite classics is Frankenstein. Unlike most of the film adaptations, the original novel offers powerful commentary on the ethics of science and the potential of discovery, much of which is still very relevant today. The moral debates over genetic engineering, human cloning, and organ farming were all explored over a century before they existed - in the pages of Frankenstein.

Amelia Rodriguez said...

Unlike you I am a huge Jane Austen Fan. Personally S&S is my least favorite. I do enjoy rereading her books each year as we discuss them in our Jane Austen group.

When I get the chance I do enjoy rereading the classics.

Mike said...


A timeless book I revisit is
Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton
Trumbo. A story of a soldier
who loses his arms, legs,
voice and sight but still
retains his mind. The power
of the book is how he lays
helpless in a hospital bed
capable of only thinking
and thinking. Like soldiers
before him and like soldiers

Anonymous said...

I like to read Anne of Green Gables. I love the movies. It's like comfort food for me to watch young Anne grow into a mature woman.

Christi said...

I love rereading classics especially Jane Austen novels, Jane Eyre, and the Anne of Green Gables series.

Other classics I love reading when I'm reading it with other people. It's one of the main reasons I miss being in my undergraduate English classes. I love the dig into that type of classic literature.

Betty said...

I reread Little Women last year, the first time since I was a teenager. I loved it then, but now it seems like a very preachy book. That really surprised me. I still loved the characters, especially Jo, but the overall "feel" of the book really turned me off this time around.

Sarah Elsewhere said...

I've read "Jane Eyre" over and over again, although it's been a year or so since the last time.

Oddly enough I just started listening to the audio for "The Flight of Gemma Hardy" because of narrator Davina Porter, not knowing it was a retelling. So far it's a little like getting to read my old favorite for the first time.