A Spooky Classic I Recommend: The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (Classic Remarks)

Classic Remarks

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!

You can find more information and the list of weekly prompts here.

(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:

Recommend a Spooky Classic

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This post assumes some basic knowledge of The Phantom of the Opera and so contains minor spoilers if you have not seen the movie/musical or read the book.

I don’t read many “spooky” books because I don’t actually like being scared, but a few of the obvious ones came to mind for this post: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Dracula by Bram Stoker, The Vampyre by John Polidori, anything by Edgar Allan Poe, maybe an Agatha Christie mystery. However, some of these choices, so common to “scary classics” list, are not very scary in my opinion (and, remember, I’m scared of everything). Frankenstein, for instance, is more a musing on life and death and the ethics of science and a variety of other philosophical questions than a frightening monster story. Thus, when I saw this prompt, I knew I had to pick a book that truly had me on the edge of my seat, frightening for the characters and chilled by the story:

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux.

If you’ve only seen the movie/musical, you likely think the story is a bit dark but not necessary scary (hence, a previous Classic Remarks prompt about whether the story is romantic). The novel is really much more frightening, and I give it a lot of credit for keeping me variously enthralled/appalled even though I already knew the general plot from having seen the movie!

Leroux’s Phantom (or Opera Ghost) is a terrifying presence only looking out for himself and his own desires. He knows the Opera like the back of his hand and can move, unseen, at will, spying, taking things, leaving things, etc. There are scenes where Christine is constantly looking around, turning to watch behind her, certain every shadow is the Opera Ghost coming for her, and it’s incredibly tense. The Opera Ghost also has power over the managers of the Opera, who bend to his will; otherwise, terrible things happen.

And it’s those terrible things that largely contribute to the scare factor here. People who displease the Opera Ghost or get too close his secrets have terrible accidents; sometimes they die. I think the movie/musical really glosses over this, how cold the Opera Ghost is and how murdering a few people here and there means nothing to him. He also has a literal torture room installed near his rooms under the Opera, which the movie conveniently leaves out.

Most chilling, I think, however, is the scene where Raoul and the Persian go to rescue Christine, and in the dark places under the Opera, the Persian instructs Raoul to keep his arm up near eye level, bent as though he were holding a pistol. Holding his arm like this is, the Persian insists, a matter of life or death. It isn’t for a while that the readers (and Raoul) come to realize this is to keep the Opera Ghost from sneaking up on them and tossing nooses around their necks. Imagining Raoul and the Persian hunting about in the dark, waiting for someone to murder them, knowing they might breathe their last if they lowered their arms for just a second had me cold.

So if you want a dark, chilling story that will keep you turning the pages this Halloween season (or any season), I highly recommend The Phantom of the Opera.

Briana

My Favorite Time Periods for Classic Literature

Classic Remarks

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!

You can find more information and the list of weekly prompts here.

(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:

Do you have a favorite time period for classic literature?

Favorite Time Periods for Classic Literature

This question is really difficult. And, so, I chose TWO favorite time periods for classic literature.

The Renaissance

Everyone knows Shakespeare, but others were writing in the Renaissance, as well! And their work is fascinating. First of all, Renaissance drama is full of unbelievable plots that involve faked deaths, mistaken identifies, and political intrigue, as well more introspective works that challenge the audience. You can find everything from serious works that address the nature of kingship (such as Edward II by Christopher Marlowe) to comedies such as Arden of Faversham, which focuses on a woman who hires a string of murderers who can’t seem to kill her husband. You can even find works by women, such as Elizabeth Cary’s closet drama The Tragedy of Marian, which explores marriage, divorce, and female sexuality.

Secondly, Renaissance writings deal with complex questions that we still grapple with today. How can a woman assert her agency in a society that views her as a commodity? How can one obtain justice for one’s wrongs when the legal system fails? Can one ever justify taking arms up against one’s ruler? Though it is easy to assume that royal censorship silenced political and religious freedom and criticism, playwrights still found ways to ask tough questions and offer pointed commentary. These questions continue to resonate with readers and audiences.

Victorian England

Though I love Renaissance writings (drama in particular), I also love the Victorian novel! And this may be the type of classic I read the most. From Charles Dickens to George Eliot to Elizabeth Gaskell, the Victorian era is full of talented writers who manage to combine perceptive social commentary with complex plots, witty characterization, and a dash of morality. Some of my favorite titles include:

What time periods of literature are your favorites?

The Jeeves and Wooster Stories Always Make Me Laugh (Classic Remarks)

Classic Remarks

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!

You can find more information and the list of weekly prompts here.

(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 classic you find humorous.

A Classic I Find Humorous

P. G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories chronicle the escapes of the aristocratic Bertie Wooster and his friends, and the ways in which his valet Jeeves cleverly gets them out of scrapes. The stories are narrated by Bertie, who readily admits that Jeeves is the brain of the operations, and who repeatedly appeals to Jeeves to formulate a plan whenever a friend appears on the doorstep with a problem. Much of the humor of the stories stems from the contrast between the lazy and foppish Bertie and the steady Jeeves.

Also entertaining, however, are the digs Wodehouse gives to the aristrocracy. Bertie has an easy life and many of his problems, while amusing, are not exactly life-threatening. Often they involve an awkward romantic entanglement or issues with overbearing and snobbish family members. It falls to Jeeves to rescue Bertie from touchy social situations while maintaining decorum. Part of the irony is that Jeeves, though a servant, is much savvier at navigating upper-class society than Bertie.

Wodehouse’s stories are absolutely delightful, a wonderful way to spend the afternoon when one is looking for a read more lighthearted than serious. We all need to relax and unwind sometimes. The humor of the Jeeves and Wooster stories are the perfect way to do it!

What Order Should You Read “The Chronicles of Narnia” In? (Classic Remarks)

Classic Remarks

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!

You can find more information and the list of weekly prompts here.

(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:

Should The Chronicles of Narnia be read in chronological order or in publication order

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Chronicles of Narnia

Spoilers for The Magician’s Nephew!

Short Answer:

Publication Order

Long Answer:

I have a feeling many readers, as I was, are first introduced to Narnia through C. S. Lewis’s most well-known book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and that’s likely to influence my opinion here.

My third grade teacher read aloud The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to my class, and from there I was hooked; I would check and recheck the books out from the school library (except The Last Battle, which I struggled with), until I finally got copies of my own to read and reread. Narnia was magic, and I fell in love with it while watching little Lucy Pevensie try to convince her siblings it was real in the first place, and then try to help save it.

I was less enthralled by The Magician’s Nephew, though I did enjoy it. Digory’s uncle is a bit nuts and, honestly, a bit frightening, and I wasn’t drawn to him as a major character when I was child. There is also something cold and austere about the place in which the children wake up the White Witch, and I wasn’t entirely sold on the in-between land of lake portals. Or the singing of creation. Or…a lot of things, really. It was all very interesting, and I think I find it even more interesting as an adult (knowing more about how Tolkien also incorporated music into the creation of Middle Earth, as well as why both he and Lewis might have chosen to do so). But I didn’t love the story or the world or the characters the way I did with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

There’s something that really makes sense to me about falling in love with Narnia first– and then going back to The Magician’s Nephew to see how it was all created. The origin story is interesting because the reader already knows what it’s going to be. If I’d read The Magician’s Nephew first, I wouldn’t understand who Aslan or the White Witch were. I wouldn’t know what Narnia was or why I should particularly care about its beginnings. I wouldn’t have had the fun aha! moments of thinking, “That’s how the lamp got there!” or “That’s why the wardrobe was magic!” I’m sure many people do read The Magician’s Nephew first (I probably would have, too, if I’d discovered the series on my own and had been told it was book one!). I don’t think I would have liked the experience as much, however, as starting with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Briana

Should Little House on the Prairie Still Be Taught in Schools? (Classic Remarks)

Classic Remarks

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!

You can find more information and the list of weekly prompts here.

(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:

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie has been criticized for its depiction of Native Americans as “primitive.” Should students continue to read this book in school?

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In recent years, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s perennially popular series, Little House on the Prairie, has received increased scrutiny. Some argue that the books should no longer be taught in schools because they focus on a white family unrepentantly moving west onto the lands of Native Americans. Others take offense at the ways in which the books depict the white character’s views of Native Americans. The argument is that even though the books give a historically accurate depiction of white setters in the late nineteenth century, children could be harmed by reading them. As the publishing industry and librarians reckon with the lack of diversity in books, I have seen some librarians say they are considering removing the books from the shelves, or that they have moved the books to the adult section, so they are not readily available to children.

When considering the pushback against Little House from industry and educational professionals, however, I think we also have to remember that much of the general public still loves Little House. I suspect that if the librarians who want to remove the books looked at their statistics, they would see that the circulation numbers are still strong. Many people have fond memories of reading the Little House books while growing up. They went on adventures with Laura on the prairie, and perhaps fell in love with the simple lifestyle she depicts, one where people made their own straw hats or made candy by pouring hot maple syrup in the snow. The people who loved Little House growing up are presumably attempting to pass that love onto the children now in their lives. Some people may wish that everyone would stop reading Little House altogether, but I do not think we are at that point.

So, when we ask whether schools should put Little House on the curriculum, I think we should consider that a number of children are presumably already exposed to the Little House books. Taking Little House off the school lists may not benefit these children. But reading Little House critically, putting it into historical context, and pairing it with alternative viewpoints such as Linda Sue Park’s Prairie Lotus (about a biracial girl growing up in the Dakota Territory in the 1880s) could help readers unpack what is going on in Wilder’s text. They might begin to recognize that Ma and Pa’s opinions are not shared by everyone and should not necessarily be taken as fact. That the Ingalls family is living on land that once was inhabited by Native Americans. That Laura Ingalls Wilder was living and writing during a time when the concept of Manifest Destiny was accepted by many, but that our own historical context makes us critical of this rhetoric.

Many of the arguments against children reading Little House seem to stem from the fear that readers will not be able to recognize that people of the past often held perspectives we now consider wrong. I think the best way to prepare readers to engage with texts critically is to teach them how to do so. It is decidedly more difficult for readers to recognize harmful beliefs and statements when they lack the necessary tools. And protecting children and young people from everything that we might consider harmful will ultimately be a futile task. One day, readers are going to be exposed to a work–and it may not even be an older work–that could depict something distasteful. What are readers to make of these moments, if they lack the necessary tools to recognize them, to think critically about them, and to respond to them?

Some of the arguments against teaching Little House seem to rest on the fear that educators are either unwilling to teach the books critically, or unable. I think this is a disservice to our educators. We have to try to trust them to do their jobs properly. If they lack the means or the knowledge to do so, we have to figure out how to provide the necessary training. The many lists I am now seeing published suggesting alternative reads or reads to pair with classic books are a great start. As the publishing industry diversifies, teachers will no longer need to rely on one viewpoint, or to use the lack of resources as an excuse. Publishing these books, promoting them, and providing educator guides for them will help the teachers who want to teach books critically but need somewhere to start.

So should schools teach Little House? I think it will ultimately be up to the schools to decide if they want to do so, and why. Do they have the necessary resources and training to put the book into historical context? Do they have time to pair it with another book with another perspective? Is their school population even interested in reading it? If not, maybe schools want to choose another book that is of more interest to their students or that teaches some other critical reading skills they think are important. I think there are plenty of good choices here for schools to consider. And I trust that most educators are committed to doing the right thing, to making their students feel welcome and heard, and to fighting inequity wherever they see it.

How Reading The Lord of the Rings Changed My Life (Classic Remarks)

Classic Remarks

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!

You can find more information and the list of weekly prompts here.

(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:

WHAT IS A CLASSIC THAT HAS CHANGED YOUR LIFE?

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How Reading The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien Changed My Life

I’m sure I’ve talked about this on the blog before, so this story may be familiar to some readers, but when I think about a classic, or simply any book, that changed my life there is only one that immediately comes to mind: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. There are other books I’ve liked and have read over and over, ones that have made me think about myself and the world in new ways, but in terms of actual, concrete changes to my life, The Lord the Rings is the only book that makes the cut.

I first read The Lord of the Rings in sixth grade, devouring the entire story in four days. From there, I dove into Tolkien scholarship (I was a weird kid, ok?) and started learning more about Tolkien’s academic background and his literary influences. Soon I was reading medieval literature like Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and I loved that, too.

When I went to college, I took far more pre-1800 literature classes than the department intended (but it was allowed by the rules), and afterwards I entered an English literature PhD program, intending to specialize in medieval literature and become a professor (like Tolkien!). I eventually decided to leave the PhD program with my master’s degree, due to reasons largely related to academia as an institution and not due to any lack of love of the subject, so unfortunately I’m not going to live the dream of teaching the next generation of college students to think medieval romances are cool and Chaucer is actually readable if you try. However, my point is that my entire academic career (and other facets of my life that spun off from that, like whom I have been able to network with and what non-academic jobs I’ve gotten because of those networks) was influenced by the fact that I read The Lord of the Rings in sixth grade.

Briana

What Does the Ending of Lois Lowry’s The Giver Mean? (Classic Remarks)

Classic Remarks

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!

You can find more information and the list of weekly prompts here.

(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:

How do you interpret the ending of Lois Lowry’s The Giver?

The Ending of the Giver

Spoilers ahead for The Giver and, of course, its ending!

Lois Lowry’s The Giver ends ambiguously with the main character Jonas escaping from his society along with the baby Gabriel, whom he has rescued from being euthanized for the crime of not fitting in. As the two travel through the snow, they reach the top of a hill. Jonas believes he sees lights in the distance. But is Jonas really seeing the lights of a village that can save them? A place where he and Gabriel can start a new life? Or is Jonas dying in the snow from exposure, perhaps only hallucinating?

Now, of course, Lowry has gone on to write a number of companion books to The Giver, apparently answering conclusively whether or not Jonas has survived. For readers unfamiliar with these books, however, the question lingers: Did Jonas and Gabriel make it? And how could Lowry do this to readers? Especially to young readers? Aren’t books for tweens and teens supposed to have happy, uplifting messages? Endings that provide hope instead of confusion?

Personally, I like my stories to have happy endings. When I first read The Giver, I knew that Jonas and Gabriel had survived. I never questioned it. I actually did not realize for some time that there were people out there who believed the two had died. After all, what kind of an ending is that? It would be really awful to believe that Jonas sacrificed so much, gave up his family and his home and the only life he has ever known, just to perish in the snow. Maybe he saved his society in the process, giving them back their memories and their emotions, but for him to have to die for it, so young, would be so unfair!

And I’m sticking to that. I have never read the companions to The Giver because, to me, The Giver stands on its own. I never felt that the story had to continue or that I needed to know more. Maybe one day I will turn to these books, just to see what else Lowry has to say. But, I still know that Jonas and Gabriel survived. They have to. Because they deserve a happy ending, and a new beginning. If the choice rests with me as the reader to decide their fate, I am going to give them the happiness I believe they should have.

What do you think about the ending of The Giver? And have you read the companion books?

Should Readers Sympathize with Dante’s Famous Lovers, Francesca and Paolo?

Classic Remarks

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!

You can find more information and the list of weekly prompts here.

(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:

Do you think readers should sympathize with Paolo and Francesca in Dante’s Inferno?

Should readers sympathize with Paolo and Francesca in Dante's Inferno?

In Canto V of the Inferno, Dante meets Francesca da Rimini in the circle of hell reserved to the lustful, along with her lover Paolo. There, they are being buffeted about ceaselessly by winds, to punish them for being guided by their passions in life. Dante asks how they came to this fate and Francesca explains how she and Paolo read a book together about Lancelot. Enthralled by the romantic story, they gave in to their own passionate desires. After hearing Francesca’s story, Dante faints in pity.

The meeting with Paolo and Francesca is one of the most famous scenes in Dante’s Inferno, one that has inspired many artistic renderings. Francesca, the only woman to speak in the Inferno, is a gentle-born noble who tells her story eloquently; it is truly difficult to listen and not to feel sorry for her. Does she deserve to be punished for love?

Readers who know more of Francesca’s background than Dante tells will also be aware that Francesca was married off to Giovanni Malatesta, an ill-formed man, in a political match. She ended up falling in love with Giovanni’s younger brother Paolo, and they carried on their adulterous affair until her husband caught them and killed them both. This knowledge makes Francesca seem even more sympathetic. She never asked to married to a man she did not love! She certainly didn’t deserve to die for it!

However, even though Dante’s description of Francesca and Paolo’s fall is sympathetic, readers have to keep in mind several other things that are happening in the text. The first consideration is that Francesca, and not Dante-Poet (the narrator) is telling her story. Of course she wants to sound sympathetic! But can readers trust her account of what it means to be in love? She is, after all, condemned to hell for the sin of lust. Dante-Poet is suggesting, by placing Francesca and Paolo in hell, that they were wrong. Readers should probably think twice about accepting Francesca’s story, and her interpretation of what love is, at face value.

Also interesting in this scene is that Francesca blames a book for bringing about her fall. She calls the book a panderer or go-between. Dante spent his youth writing erotic poetry–much the same stuff that Francesca says lead to her destruction. In this moment, Dante-Poet is reflecting on his own role as an artist, and the power that words hold. He is implicitly blaming himself for potentially leading readers astray with his earlier work. Now, however, in the Comedy, he uses his talents to try to make his readers understand the nature of sin and its ugliness, and how they should reflect on their lives in order to choose good instead of evil.

So are Francesca and Paolo sympathetic? Certainly! Even Dante-Pilgrim (the character our narrator Dante-Poet is writing about) thinks so! But Dante-Poet also suggests that if readers think the pair are sympathetic, there is something wrong with their perspective. They should never feel sympathy for something that is wrong. And that is the great power of Dante’s Comedy. All at once, he makes us feel the contradictions of what it means to be alive, and to be human. We feel sorry for Francesca and Paolo, and perhaps recognize something of ourselves in them, even as we recognize logically that we should not feel sympathetic for adulterers. How do we reconcile the two views? How do we accept our human emotions but also accept that perhaps there is something beyond emotion? That struggle is at the heart of Dante’s Comedy–and a key reason I keep returning to the text.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts and links in the comments below!

Recommend a Diverse Classic (Classic Remarks)

Classic Remarks

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!

You can find more information and the list of weekly prompts here.

(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:

Recommend a Diverse Classic

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PBS’s The Great American Read, an eight-part television series celebrating and discussing America’s top 100 novels as chosen by a survey of approximately 7,200 people, introduced me to the Chicano classic Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya back in 2018. Although I learned that the book has made it onto some regional school lists, I had never even heard the title before. I was in for a treat.

Bless Me, Ultima recounts the story of Antonio, a boy growing up on the edge of the llano. Torn between his mother’s love for the earth and his father’s love of freedom, his belief in the Catholic church and the miracles he has seen performed by Ultima the curandera, Antonio struggles to find his place in the world.

I often feel drawn to books that explore the struggles characters have with faith. For some people, faith is such a clear-cut thing, a solid truth they can rely on throughout life. Others, however, may find tension in how faith seems to conflict with reason, or how one faith contradicts another. Antonio is confused because he has been raised Catholic, but he sees that Ultima relies on wisdom from her ancestors that the church rejects–and consequently, seems to have great power. How can he reconcile the two worldviews?

Bless Me, Ultima is a coming-of-age story because Antonio must come to the realization that not everything authority figures have told him may be true. He has to work through disillusionment and determine what he believes in, and what kind of life he wants to lead. He no longer has to capacity to accept whatever he is told, because he knows now that the world is full of contradictions. He has to resolve those contradictions within himself.

Some have found Bless Me, Ultima controversial, but I enjoyed the honest look Rudolfo Anaya provides of one boy’s interior life. Antonio is not perfect, it is true. He is human. And so he should be expected to have questions, to make mistakes, to wonder what is true, and to long for more certainty than the world can ever give. Antonio’s story is beautiful because it is real.

10 Classic Works That Should Get Screen Adaptations

Classic Remarks

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!

You can find more information and the list of weekly prompts here.

(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:

What classic work should get a film/TV adaptation?

There are many classics works that should get adaptations, however, so I chose to do a list.

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Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott

Alcott wrote more than Little Women–why not give her other works a chance to shine? Eight Cousins follows Rose Campbell as she goes to live with her uncle and meets all her boy cousins. The sequel, Rose in Bloom, follows her into adulthood as she falls in love.

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Little Men (and Jo’s Boys) by Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women has been adapted numerous times–there are six feature films, as well as mini series and even a Japanese anime–but, for some reason, the sequels never get their time to shine. I would love to see a film or a mini series follow the adventures of Jo’s boarding school, however.

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The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

This might admittedly be difficult to adapt as it is about an interior spiritual journey. However, it might be cool to have someone perform the poem or maybe to perform the poem and animate it!

Beowulf by Anonymous

I was indescribably disappointed by the 2007 film. Can we have a remake with less nudity and more dragons/medieval fantasy adventure?

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

In 1996, he BBC released a mini based on Anne Brontë’s classic novel about a woman who leaves her abused husband. There really aren’t any other adaptations. In contrast, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre has 16 feature film adaptations and 15 TV adaptations. Could Anne’s lack of a film be a contributing factor in her lack of visibility?

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Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene

Secret at Shadow Ranch

There have been numerous adaptations of Nancy Drew for the screen over the years, but I really want a Nancy Drew film or mini series that is set in the 1930s or the 1950s. None of these modern adaptations, thank you.

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Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery

Emily of New Moon

There is a 1998 TV series based on what is possibly Montgomery’s second most famous series after the Anne of Green Gables books. However, I would love to see another adaptation, perhaps one more faithful to the books.

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Pat of Silver Bush by L. M. Montgomery

Emily and Anne may be Montgomery’s two most well-known characters, but I have always loved Pat. Pat is no authorial genius like Emily. She is not exuberantly original like Anne. She’s really very ordinary and not particularly gifted in school. And I love that about her. She’s ordinary, but she still gets to be a heroine.

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Cymbeline by William Shakespeare

Why is Romeo and Juliet remade all the time? There are other Shakespeare plays! Cymbeline had a modern adaptation in 2014, but reviews are generally negative. Why not try again?

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The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien

This should be a TV series so multiple stories can be told without being rushed. I would love to see it in the hands of a faithful adapter, who would keep the spirit of the work, even if changes must be made so the work feels fluid.