WHAT IS CLASSIC REMARKS?
Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.
HOW CAN I PARTICIPATE?
Leave your link to your post on your own blog in the comments below. And feel free to comment with your thoughts even if you are not officially participating with a full post!
(Readers who like past prompts but missed them have also answered them on their blog later and linked back to us at Pages Unbound, so feel free to do that, too!)
THIS WEEK’S PROMPT:
Tell us about a few of your favorite classic authors.
Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott may be my favorite children’s author. I love how she makes everyday scenarios feel extremely important, the way in which she still seems to be able to enter in childhood and remember what it felt like. Her children’s books are all charming, making me wish I could enter into her world and spend some time there, getting to know the characters and just enjoying life.
Discover some of Alcott’s lesser-known works.
The Divine Comedy is one of my favorite works of literature and, for a time, I would reread it every year. I still return to it often to ponder Dante’s insights on everything from politics to theology to love. The sheer breadth of the work is astonishing, but Dante also manages to make it feel personal, as it comes alive with the stories of the best and the worst of humanity.
Jane Austen continues to delight the world with her witty novels, which brilliantly critique the upper class society of her day, while also providing engaging plot lines and swoon-worthy romances. Her books come alive with her vibrant heroines, wicked cads, and, of course, chivalrous love interests. It’s difficult not to find one’s self completely absorbed by Austen’s work.
Read our review of Jane Austen’s Emma.
Anne is known for writing more realistic stories than her sisters and for her progressive views on women, which today are read as perhaps even more feminist than Charlotte and Emily’s. In The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, for example, Anne writes about the laws that allow men to abuse their wives, suggesting that marriage can become a form of imprisonment. Her story shocked Victorian society and, after her death, Charlotte tried to tame her sister’s memory. Charlotte refused to republish The Tenant of Wildfell Hall because she claimed its scenes of debauchery did not reflect Anne’s true, gentle character. Some scholars believe it is in part Charlotte’s intervention that lead to Anne’s literary reputation falling. Anne, however, is my favorite of the Brontë sisters because of her clear insight into character, her refusal to romanticize bad boys, and her sharp critiques of society. She did not live long to write much, but what she did write is worth reading.
Read our review of Agnes Grey.
I have loved Charles Dickens for years, ever since high school, and I am actually glad I have not yet read all of his works. It gives me something to look forward to! Dickens is a master of characterization, always managing to pull out distinguishing features to mark his people as either heroes or villains. He’s also wonderful at creating tightly woven plot lines, where all the disparate threads come neatly together at the end.
Read our review of Bleak House, regarded as one of Dickens’ best works.
I love a good swashbuckler, and Dumas is among the best when it comes to writing them. From The Count of Monte Cristo to Three Musketeers, Dumas knows how to spin a yarn that’s packed with action, adventure, danger, and romance. Many of his works are long, but they are certainly worth the time.
Read our review of The Three Musketeers.
I first read George Eliot’s Middlemarch on the recommendation of a college professor. At the time, I had never read anything written by Eliot and really had no idea who she was–even though I loved reading Victorian novels. She was just one of those names I heard all the time, but never looked into. However, I liked this professor and trusted his recommendations, so I picked up Middlemarch to see what it was all about. I was blown away by its vision and its power. It is one my favorite books, though I’ve only managed to read it twice so far.
Read our review of Middlemarch.
C. S. Lewis
I first discovered C. S. Lewis when I was in third grade and began reading the Narnia books. They transported me to another world! Lewis, however, has written a great deal more, from works on Christianity to his famous Space Trilogy. I still love diving into his work and engaging with his ideas.
Discover 10 must-read books about C. S. Lewis.
L. M. Montgomery
I think I have enjoyed everything by Montgomery that I have ever read from her novels to her short stories. She has a real gift for characterization, making her characters come alive through their foibles and their little everyday mannerisms. But she also has the ability to make readers feel like there is magic everywhere, waiting just around the corner. My favorite book by L. M. Montgomery is Pat of Silver Bush.
Discover L. M. Montgomery’s books beyond Anne of Green Gables.
Perhaps it’s overdone to call Shakespeare a literary genius–but he is. It may take some time to become familiar with his language but, once you do, the beauty of his verse is breathtaking. Add to that his engaging plot lines and his fascinating commentary on life, love, and nature, and you have a writer whose work feels continuously relevant and always in need of a re-read.