Classic Remarks

Classic Remarks 1

INTRODUCTION

Classic Remarks is a meme 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.  The schedule for the year is posted below, so feel free to get a head start.  We look forward to seeing your responses!

Schedule for 2020

May 1  What is a classic you loved when you were younger, but feel differently about now?

May 8 What classic did you love when you were younger—and you still love now?

May 15 Which of the Brontë sisters’ work is your favorite?  Why?

May 22 Which YA books would you like to see become classics and why?

May 29 Why do you think some individuals believe in the Shakespeare authorship “controversy” even though the scholarly consensus is that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare?

June 5 What classic did you read in school and end up loving?

June 12 What are some lesser-known works by a classic author you think people should read?

June 19 Charlotte’s Web took the number one spot on the School Library Journal’s 2012 list of Top 100 chapter books.  Why do you think this book continues to appeal to readers?

June 26 What advice would you give to someone hesitant to read classics?

July 3 Do you prefer Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys?  Why?

July 10 Tell us about a classic picture book you love for the illustrations.

July 17 During her life, Frances Hodgson Burnett received more acclaim for Little Lord Fauntleroy than for The Secret Garden.  Today the reverse is true.  What do you think prompted the change?

July 24 What is your favorite musical based on a classic novel?

July 31  Who is your favorite character in The Lord of the Rings?

August 7  What classic do you read—and love—because it was recommended to you?

August 14 What classic work should get a film/TV adaptation?

August 21 Tell us about your favorite Roald Dahl novel.

August 28  Recommend a diverse classic.

September 4  Do you think readers should sympathize with Paolo and Francesca in Dante’s Inferno?

September 11  How do you interpret the ending of Lois Lowry’s The Giver?

September 18  What is a contemporary book you think might become a classic?  Or should become a classic?

September 25  What classic changed your life?

October 2  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?

October 9  Should the Narnia books be read in chronological order or in publication order?

October 16  Tell us about a classic you find humorous.

October 23  Do you have a favorite time period for classic literature?

October 30 Recommend a spooky classic.

November 6  How do you interpret Dante’s Ulysses?  Is he a heroic figure or something else?

November 13 Tell us about a few of your favorite classic authors.

November 20  Why do you read classics?  (Or why don’t you?)

November 27  Which Narnia book is your favorite and why?

December 4 Recommend a holiday classic.

December 11 Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen has been challenged for its depiction of the boy protagonist as nude.  What is your response?

December 18  Tell us about your favorite science fiction classic.

December 25 Does Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree depict selfless love or an abusive relationship?

SCHEDULE FOR 2017

Jan. 6 What is a classic you think should be required school reading?

Jan. 13 Should Tolkien have included more female characters in The Hobbit?

Jan. 20 Do you think “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” by Geoffrey Chaucer is feminist?

Jan. 27 Do you think Severus Snape is a good person?

Feb. 3 Tell us about your favorite poem or poet.

Feb. 10 What do you think the funniest moment in Pride and Prejudice is?

Feb. 17 If you were to teach a Shakespeare text in a high school classroom and could not choose Romeo and Juliet, which play would you choose and why?

Feb. 24 Who is your favorite L. M. Montgomery hero?

March 3 What do you think of adapting classics for younger readers?

March 10 Tell us about your favorite classic graphic novel (not an adaptation of a classic but a classic of the form such as Maus).

March 17 Do you think Satan from Paradise Lost is at all a sympathetic character?

March 24 Discuss one of the changes Peter Jackson made from the book while adapting The Lord of the Rings.  What did this change add to or take away from the story?

March 31 What’s a somewhat obscure classic you wish more people would read?

April 7 What relevance does a medieval text like The Divine Comedy have for readers today?

 April 14 Tell us about your favorite L. M. Montgomery work, aside from any of the Anne books.

 April 21 Hotspur rather than Prince Hal used to receive more critical attention in Henry IV, Part 1.  What do think created the change in reception and is it warranted?

 April 28 What is your favorite John Steinbeck novel?

 May 5 Do you identify at all with Holden Caulfield?

 May 12 Is the ending of Call of the Wild positive?

 May 19 Recommend a diverse classic.

 May 26 Do you think Aeneas was right to leave Dido?

SCHEDULE FOR 2016

July 15: Is Jane Eyre‘s Rochester an attractive and brooding love interest, or dangerously manipulative?

July 22: Some argue Jane Austen writes “fluff” and others argue she belongs in the canon because she writes witty social commentary.  Do you think Austen belongs in the canon? Why or why not?

July 29: Is Romeo and Juliet a tragic love story or an ironic comedy?  Should we take the play seriously when its protagonists are so young?

Aug. 5: Which of  Toni Morrison’s book is your favorite/affected you the most and why?

Aug. 12: Susan Pevensie’s fate in C. S. Lewis’s The Last Battle has been criticized for being sexist. Do you think it’s sexist or is Lewis trying to do or say something else?

Aug. 19: Which March sister from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is your favorite and why?  Do you agree with the way their lives played out?

Aug. 26: Is Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew misogynistic?  Should we continue to stage it?

Sept. 2Recommend a diverse classic.  Or you can argue that a diverse book should be a classic or should be included in the canon.  (Or you can argue that the book should be a classic, but that you don’t want to see it in the canon.)

Sept. 9: Which Tolkien book would you recommend to a reader after they’ve finished The Hobbit and LotR?

Sept. 16: Is the Phantom of the Opera abusive or romantic?  (You can discuss the musical or the book version, or the differences between the two.)

Sept. 23: Which Austen adaptation is your favorite and why?

Sept. 30: What children’s classic couldn’t you read enough when you were growing up?

Oct. 7: Which of Dumas’s Musketeer’s is your favorite and why?

Oct. 14: Recommend a classic book that you think translated particularly well to screen (even if the adaptation was not entirely faithful).

Oct. 21: Should we be assigning Lolita in schools or is it taking up valuable syllabus space another book could have?

Oct. 28: What is your favorite classic picture book?  Or you can tell us about a picture book you think will/should become a classic.

Nov. 4: Middlemarch has received criticism for the fate of its heroine Dorothea Brooke as some believe she does not live up to feminist ideals as she remains limited in her influence and matched to an inferior partner.  Do you think such criticism is warranted?

Nov. 11: Do you think the end of Charlotte Bronte’s Villette is a feminist triumph or an emotional tragedy?  (Or something else entirely?)

Nov. 18: Which classic book do you wish had a sequel and why?

Nov. 25: Daisy Buchanan from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby says she wishes her daughter will be a “beautiful little fool.”  Is Daisy herself nothing but a fool or is she trapped by her society?

Dec. 2: George Orwell’s 1984 is often referenced when discussions of privacy and oversight arise.  Do you think an Orwellian state could happen or is that overstating the case?

Dec. 9: Nahum Tate is infamous for his 1681 adaptation of King Lear with a happy ending.  Why do you think some adaptations of works are praised and others dismissed?  Can we separate the merit of an adaptation from the merit of the work it is based on?

Dec. 16: Tell us about your favorite Charles Dickens novel.

Dec. 23: Recommend a classic you think should be read during the holiday season.

Dec. 30: You’ve been dropped into L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables.  What do you do first?