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TNBBC's Lists > Name 5 Important Classics?

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message 1: by Shredder (last edited May 10, 2009 12:38AM) (new)

Shredder | 20 comments That everyone must read?

I'm a non native speaker, so I don't know what those "important" classics are.

But I have only read few of the classics, if any. (1984, The Catcher in the Rye)

What classics do you consider so profound and therefore a necessary reading?

message 2: by Kathy McC (new)

Kathy McC Of Mice and Men
Pride and Prejudice
Wuthering Heights
To Kill a Mockingbird
Gone With The Wind (mostly just because it is my favorite book of all time)

message 3: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10123 comments Mod
Brothers Karamazov - Dostovesky
Fahrenhiet 451 - Bradbury
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Kensey
Lord of the Flies
The Mysterious Island - Verne

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1736 comments Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Bleak House - Charles Dickens
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

message 6: by Laura (new)

Laura (questionableadvice) Hi Shredder - I wasn't sure what type of insight/profundity you were looking for so I went with classics that have either changed the culture or describe parts of it well (I think).

To Kill a Mockingbird
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Gone With The Wind

I'm sure there are lots more, but I'm limited to the ones I've read myself. :)

message 7: by Slayermel (new)

Slayermel | 44 comments Just like Laura I'm limited to the ones I have read myself so far, but I would recommend these ones if your looking for something profound or that's really going to stick with you. I'm sure I will add to this list as I read more.

Pride and Prejudice
A Clockwork Orange

Other classics I really just enjoyed
The Phantom of the Opera The Original Novel
The Island of Dr. Moreau
The War of the Worlds

message 8: by Jill (new)

Jill (wanderingrogue) | 329 comments To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. One of the best books in the history of the English language. It's a shame she didn't write more, but at least she ended her career on a high note.
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) by George Orwell. No matter what your political leanings, this book makes you far more aware of the power of government, its propaganda, and the power it wields.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo. Less intimidating in size than Les Miserables, it's still a beautiful and tragic example of French literature.
Hamlet by William Shakespeare. I've been reading Shakespeare since I was around thirteen years old, and his exquisite mastery of the English language never fails to take my breath away; and I've read this play, widely considered to be the greatest play ever written, several times.
The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki Shikibu. Many consider it to be the first novel ever written. That alone makes it quite important.

message 9: by El (new)

El Seth wrote: "The Confidence-Man, by Herman Melville
The Painted Bird, by Jerzy Kosinski
Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell
Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot
The Woodlanders, by Thomas Hardy"

Ooh, The Painted Bird did not sit well with me. I also tried watching the movie Being There based on one of his other books, and I wasn't a fan of it either. So I'm thinking maybe that's not an author for me. :)

message 10: by El (new)

El I don't know if it was so much depressing is that I thought a lot of the violence was unnecessary. I've often wondered if I should re-read it and see if I have a different response, but I certainly don't think I can bring myself to do it. Have you re-read it, Seth?

message 11: by El (new)

El Ooh, The Wasp Factory was another disturbing book, but I had more appreciation for it than Painted Bird. I wonder if it's because I read the Banks book around high school or before, and the Kosinski after college - I was able to stomach more as a younger reader, at least as far as gratuitous violence goes. Now I want every bit of violence to serve a purpose, and I'm still not convinced Kosinski managed that. But I would still never turn anyone else off from reading it. Like I said, Kosinski just might not be for me.

message 12: by April (new)

April (booksandwine) | 954 comments My five important classics would be:

East of Eden by John Steinbeck - the way he describes things, especially the Salinas Valley is wonderful. I really got a feel for the trask family. "Steinbeck stated about East of Eden: "It has everything in it I have been able to learn about my craft or profession in all these years." He further claimed: "I think everything else I have written has been, in a sense, practice for this." - From Wikipedia

Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston

Crime And Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Republic by Plato - worth it just for the metaphor of the Cave

The Prince - Machiavelli - If you want to understand absolute monarchies, read this book.

Honorable mentions: Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, The Stranger by Albert Camus, The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer, and On The Road by Jack Kerouac (quintessential Beat Generation)

message 13: by Carly (last edited May 30, 2009 03:03PM) (new)

Carly | 29 comments Probably the most essential "classic" is Proust's In Search of Lost Time beginning with Swann's Way. One of those life-changing reads. Most of the classics mentioned above are peripheral, especially anything by Dickens or Steinbeck. Not to say that their books aren't enjoyable (East of Eden is one of my favorite books), just not required reading despite what the public school system has to say about it.

If you want to get to the root of Western literature, your best bets are The Odyssey and The Iliad. Plus certain key parts of the King James Bible. The vast majority of literary references seem to come from these works.

Another suggestion: one of the best English classes I ever took was an intro to literary theory that only discussed three books. The Aeneid, The Inferno, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. These books give a good example of the interrelated-ness (word?) of Western literature and present a common theme, the journey. Many great books follow a character in his/her exploration of the world and show that character coming to terms with this reality and either finding a place in it or rejecting it.

message 14: by El (new)

El Carly wrote: "Probably the most essential "classic" is Proust's In Search of Lost Time beginning with Swann's Way. One of those life-changing reads. Most of the classics mentioned above are peripher..."

Interesting. In what way did it change your life? I read the first two titles in the bunch a few years ago, and still to this day am on the fence with it. Was it as amazing as I like to think it was, or was it just the memory of the pain killers I was on at the time I read them? :) I certainly want to return to Proust - start over and then finish Lost Time - but at the first reading I don't know I would consider it something I would think everyone would benefit from reading.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1736 comments Fascinating to me that you consider Proust to be a classic writer of English literature.

French literature, certainly.

message 16: by El (new)

El Susanna wrote: "Fascinating to me that you consider Proust to be a classic writer of English literature.

French literature, certainly.

Susanna, I don't think anyone was suggesting Proust to be a classic writer of English literature over French literature. Did I miss something here?

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1736 comments Well, it didn't quite seem to fit with my reading of the original question, is all.

message 18: by El (new)

El I didn't see anything stating it had to be English literature. Some people mentioned Russian novels, so I believe it was just a general question about classics.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1736 comments Perhaps I inferred the "English" - but Proust is still not the first "classic" I'd give a non-native speaker/reader of English!

message 20: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10123 comments Mod
He is really only asking what you personally feel is a profound and necessary book. It's an opinion. We arent all going to agree with each other on what we feel is an important classic. ANd thanks ok.

message 21: by Diane (last edited Jun 01, 2009 03:56PM) (new)

Diane  (dianedj) This is interesting thread. I am sad to say that there are so many classics that I haven't read, so I'm very interested in everyone's postings. My goal is to start reading more of the classics, and I want to read 3 between now and the end of the year.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1736 comments Lori wrote: "Susanna,
He is really only asking what you personally feel is a profound and necessary book. It's an opinion. We arent all going to agree with each other on what we feel is an important classic. ..."


message 23: by Kenneth P. (last edited Jun 05, 2009 09:27PM) (new)

Kenneth P. (kennethp) The Sun Also Rises

message 24: by Madeline (new)

Madeline | 293 comments Like others I can only reccommend what I've read myself but I loved these and felt they changed my perceptions, taught me something, or stayed with me emotionally.

(In no particular order)
1. William Shakespeare's plays - particularly Macbeth, Richard III, Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummers Night Dream, and Romeo and Juliet. These are just my favorites. Many would add Hamlet but the only part I liked about it was Ophelia and the ghost. :p I go back and forth on The Taming of the Shrew, and haven't yet read Othello, Henry V, The Tempest, or the Roman histories which are all supposed to be quite good. There's reference upon reference to Shakespeares work in western culture - and many of the stories have even deeper cultural roots than just Shakespeare's time or than English Culture specifically. These are admittedly not going to be easy reads for someone new to the language, but perhaps once fluent something to try. An old english dictionary may help.
2. A Tale of Two Cities
3. Pride and Prejudice
Dickens and Austen both remain very popular as classic writers among common (non-academic) readers.

American points of view:
4. The Great Gatsby
5. To Kill a Mockingbird
These are my two favorite American classics, they highlight important changes of perception/circumstances during the last century.

message 25: by Madeline (last edited Jun 06, 2009 08:38PM) (new)

Madeline | 293 comments Carly wrote: "Probably the most essential "classic" is Proust's In Search of Lost Time beginning with Swann's Way. One of those life-changing reads. Most of the classics mentioned above are peripher..."

I'm not an english major (by far lol, my grammar sucks for one! ><) but I think the journey is a theme far more encompassing than just western culture, you can find it all world mythos and literature - not to mention cinema!. Have you ever read
The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell? It's a very intense exploration of this theme. You might be interested if you haven't read it already!

sorry to go off topic!

message 26: by Manday (new)

Manday | 212 comments I am going to stick to books originally written in English, since many of our "classics" are actually read in translation. (like all the Russian works mentioned here)

The Scarlet Letter
Frankenstein, or, The modern Prometheus
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
"Lord of the Flies"

message 27: by Andreea (new)

Andreea (andyyy) | 117 comments April wrote: "The Republic by Plato - worth it just for the metaphor of the Cave "
Butbuttt, Plato is the backbone of Western philosophy and, unlike a lot of important philosophical works, it's completely readable. The whole book is completely worth reading and it just, dunno, changes the way you see the world and everything in it.

That aside, I think Don Quixote should be required reading for everyone (whether in translation or original, I think speakers of a widely spread language have almost a phobia of translated works, as a native speaker of a minor language, I've read at least half of my books in translations, you can read in translation and enjoy your book and you can also learn other languages). Firstly it's a delicious book without being grotesque (unlike Rabelais' work, for example), secondly it appeals to all ages- you can read Don Quixote when you're 11, read it in college or when you're old and wrinkly, you're still going to laugh at the jokes, sympathize with the characters and understand its substrate (although your feelings and opinions could change as you grow up), unlike many classics that can only be read by serious people with serious studies, thirdly it's a book about books and readers and it sparks love for literature, and fourthly its impact both on literature and Western civilization in its whole entity is a lot more obvious that the impact of, say, Proust or Steinbeck.

message 28: by JenniferD (last edited Sep 20, 2009 11:34AM) (new)

JenniferD (jooniperd)
Hmmm...five important classics? How about:

1. The Odyssey by Homer
2. Ulysses by James Joyce
3. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
4. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
5. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

I have agreed with many of the previous works mentioned, in particular Don Quixote, To Kill a Mockingbird and William Shakespeare, so tried to think of some different titles that haven't been posted already.

message 29: by Carol (new)

Carol 1.Les Misérables-Victor Hugo
2.A Tale of Two Cities-Charles Dickens
3.Ulysses-James Joyce
4.For Whom the Bell Tolls-Ernest Hemingway
5.Johnny Tremain-Ester Forbes

I tried to suggest books about historical and human rights events. I know Les Miserables is a bit daunting, so if you chose it, allow a lot of time for ingesting the text.

message 30: by Alicia (new)

Alicia (diva2416) I haven't seen Uncle Tom's Cabin mentioned yet. I read that book college and thought it was great, especially if you think about the time in which it was written.

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