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Reviews by Genre (Fiction) > Classic Novels

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message 1: by Rebecca, The Constant Reader (new)

Rebecca (rebeccas_books) | 340 comments Mod
Do you enjoy Classic Novels? Or have you read one that you wasn't impress with? Share your reviews here.

message 2: by Rachel (new)

Rachel John (racheljohn) | 12 comments I capture the castle, please don't hate me because I didn't like it... I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

message 3: by Rebecca, The Constant Reader (new)

Rebecca (rebeccas_books) | 340 comments Mod
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - 3 Stars

"Pride",observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of her reflections, "is a very common failing, I believe. By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed; that human nature is particularly prone to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some quality or other, real or imaginary."

message 4: by Candace (new)

Candace (candywilliams)

I "discovered" this Victorian author a couple of months ago and started reading everything he wrote. He was a brilliant man who had everything going for him, but he royally effed it up. He was expelled from Oxford for stealing. He stole money to help his prostitute girlfriend, and she later dumped him. His second wife was a nightmare, and he dumped her. Because of his mistakes, he spent the remainder of his life in poverty and spent his amazing literary talents detailing the lives of Victorian London's poor. His are amazing stories about a part of Victorian life that most writers of the era ignored.

message 5: by Devi (new)

Devi Nair (views_she_writes) The Guest by Suneetha Balakrishnan The Guest
Genre: Family / Drama / Short Story / Indian
Rating: 5 Star
Review: The Guest
A beautiful Indian Family Drama. A short story of one day in the life of a husband, his wife and his mother. Truly must read short story

message 6: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Candace wrote: "I "discovered" this Victorian author a couple of months ago and started reading everything he wrote. He was a brilliant man who had everything going for him, but he royally effed it up. He was expelled from Oxford for stealing. ..."

Well said. If you enjoy Gissing then you might also warm to his French counterpart, Eugene Sue. This interest in poverty is the background to his very similar book, The Mysteries of Paris.

message 7: by Candace (new)

Candace (candywilliams) Thanks very much, Feliks!

message 8: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) You're very welcome. Y'know I just looked over the Goodreads information (and the Wikipedia info on Sue as well!) and it is all pretty woeful. Here is a much better summary:

This feulliton, or French newspaper serial, was one of the most influential novels of the 19th Century. While it is little known today, when it first ran as a weekly serial it outsold Alexandre Dumas pere’s The Count of Monte Cristo, and was praised by no less a critic than Victor Hugo, who called its author, Eugene Sue, the “Dickens of Paris.”

Despite its title, 'Mysteries of Paris' is neither a mystery nor a detective story in any formal sense, it is however an early example of the crime novel and thriller and helped to establish many of the tropes of popular fiction that still linger today. Heroes from Zorro to the Shadow to Batman owe a debt to Sue’s Prince Rodolphe, the mysterious man in black haunting the back alleys of crime and poverty ridden Paris.

Eugene Sue was a minor nobleman with a political bent. He was an avid socialist and critic of the Catholic Church — particularly the Jesuits who feature as the villains of his classic The Wandering Jew. He spent much of his career in semi-exile for his criticisms of Louis Napoleon, like his friend and fellow author Hugo.

Sue also has an ironic role in history: In one volume of his massive 'Mysteries of the People', Sue created a fictional document detailing how a Jesuit conspiracy operated and secretly ran the world — when this ‘document’ was plagiarized by a Russian propagandist and the references to the Jesuits changed to Jews the document became the inflammatory and wholly fictional Protocols of Zion; an irony that would have horrified the liberal Sue.

But Sue’s role in popular literature is secure with his two best known works, 'The Wandering Jew' and 'Mysteries of Paris', the latter followed by countless imitations, with Mysteries of London, Prague, Berlin, and even New York to follow. Its influence extended well into the early 20th Century (fans of the TV series Friends might recall the “Mysteries of New York” poster on the wall in Joey and Chandler’s apartment).

Prince Rodolphe of Gerolstein appears in Paris as a mysterious man in black. He is on the trail of Fleur de Mal, a child orphaned by an act of carelessness in his youth.

As he searches the lowest and vilest of Paris slums he becomes an early model for the justice figure or avenger, seeking both redemption for himself and justice and mercy for the downtrodden but good people he finds driven to crime and degradation by poverty and social injustice, befriending and reforming many of the criminals and semi-criminals he encounters and even forming a sort of ‘thieves court’ with himself as judge which deals out fair but swift justice among a people who have no trust of the corrupt real courts and laws written and administered to oppress them.

Sue threw himself into the novel with real zeal, and his use of Parisian street argot is a remarkable accomplishment. Any historian wishing to know what life was like in the streets of mid-19th Century Paris would be advised to carefully read Sue’s novel. Like Dickens to whom he was often compared, he had a real affection for the people of the streets of Paris though a realistic eye for detail. In some ways Sue’s modern disciples are writers like W.R. Burnett, Elmore Leonard, Joseph Wambaugh, and George V. Higgins.

There is, as might be expected, a good deal of melodrama, pathos, bathos, and hokum in the novel. Its serial origins show, and at some 1300 pages in unabridged editions, it is far from a casual read. It gives the term Victorian triple-decker new meaning.

But it is also filled with exciting scenes, interesting characters, and if Sue lacks Dickens’ more literary qualities, he quite shares his ability to tell a story and to involve the reader in the lives of his creations. 'Mysteries of Paris' is what a friend of mine used to call a “thumping good read.”

'Mysteries of Paris' has been filmed and adapted to other media countless times since the silent era in many languages. There are television mini-series and even animated versions, and it was one of the early books adapted by Gilberton’s Classics Illustrated Comics.

Perhaps the best film is a 1962 Arthur Hunebele production with Jean Marais (Orphee, La Belle et la Bete) as Roldolphe, Dany Robin as Irene, and Jill Haworth as Fleur de Mal. By necessity it is a very abridged version of the story, but told in a lively manner by a director best remembered for his campy Fantomas films with Marais in a double role as the super criminal and his nemesis Juve.

'Mysteries' is still widely read in Europe and considered a pop classic. It is less well-known here, in part because there has never been a really good translation of the novel nor an annotated edition, both of which are long overdue.

But Mysteries is an important book in the development of the mystery genre, taking inspiration from Poe, Dickens, Collins and others, and in turn inspiring many of the works to come.

Sue really is neglected in this country and unjustly so. This is a novel that deserves to be rediscovered.

message 9: by Candace (new)

Candace (candywilliams) Thank you! Fascinating stuff, and he gave us the "mysterious man in black," no less. Sadly, only part 2 of the Mysteries serial seems to be available in English. (The Wandering Jew is going on my TBR list, too.)

message 10: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) You have unusual tastes. Bravo!

message 11: by Candace (new)

Candace (candywilliams) As do you, my new friend :)

message 12: by Donald (new)

Donald Franck (dfranck) | 1 comments I had to come looking for this group thread as I was just reading comments on reviews of "classic" stories and novels. I have to wonder what some readers are thinking as they give a one star ranking for some of the best classics in history. One was for the racist views in John Carter of Mars. It was very clear they had no history lessons in school or they would know why the "red man" was used in the first book. Because around the time that it was written, the City of Marysville Ca was paying bounties of $25 per HEAD for Native Americans! The writer was saying that these people are not animals, Carter was not a white ape! They were people with honor, friendship, pride worth knowing. Later the black man was treated as less than that. See my point? They were against how these people were being treated at that time. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

message 13: by Candace (new)

Candace (candywilliams) Donald wrote: "I had to come looking for this group thread as I was just reading comments on reviews of "classic" stories and novels. I have to wonder what some readers are thinking as they give a one star rankin..."

It's disheartening to see such ignorance. And I think it truly is ignorance, which can be cured, as opposed to stupidity. I blame our education system for it.

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