The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910 discussion

57 views
The Library & Reading Room > Library Discussions

Comments Showing 1-50 of 91 (91 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

message 1: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4460 comments Mod
Welcome to our new room - The Library Discussion Room. This room’s topics are limited to books, authors, and the like. Since it’s in a library, the discussions should be relegated to reading topics only. For more brisk discussions, go to Croissants.

To start us off, who is your favorite author and why?


message 2: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 150 comments Favorite author: Jane Austen

If you don't know why, then you haven't read enough Jane Austen.


message 3: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2784 comments Mod
It is hard to choose just one, but Thomas Hardy is one of my top five.
I enjoy the way he writes, his themes and his poetry.


message 4: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 594 comments I’m with Christopher: Jane Austen. Though I’m currently immersed in a reread of Middlemarch and am wowed all over again.


message 5: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2784 comments Mod
My favourite German author is Thomas Mann. He creates great atmosphere in his novels, and if you read him in German, you also know him as the creator of very long sentences. My favourite novels are Doctor Faustus and the Joseph and his Brothers tetralogy.


message 6: by mark (new)

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 21 comments Mine are a toss-up between Joyce Carol Oates and Jack Vance. Mainly because they have my favorite styles of writing, on top of their interesting themes.


message 7: by Madge UK (last edited Dec 29, 2017 03:09PM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments Rosemarie wrote: "It is hard to choose just one, but Thomas Hardy is one of my top five.
I enjoy the way he writes, his themes and his poetry."


Mine too Rosemarie. I particularly like his long descriptive passages about the countryside, character and clothing. I favour description over dialogue. I do not favour Austen because she writes, as Charlotte Bronte said, with 'too fine a pen', with too little description. She is too genteel for my rougher sensibilities:)


message 8: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4460 comments Mod
Christopher wrote: "Favorite author: Jane Austen

If you don't know why, then you haven't read enough Jane Austen."


I think the why may be different for each of us. I enjoy her wit


message 9: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4460 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "It is hard to choose just one, but Thomas Hardy is one of my top five.
I enjoy the way he writes, his themes and his poetry."


I love his lyrical writing style as well.


message 10: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4460 comments Mod
My favorites are too many to list. One I’m forever in debt to is Wilkie Collins. I was always just a mystery reader until a friend used that interest to launch me into the Victorian age. From there many different authors were recommended, and I kept falling in love.


message 11: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2784 comments Mod
I enjoy Jane Austen's wit, but like Madge, I really enjoy Hardy's descriptive writing. In Return of the Native, the descriptions of the heath were wonderful.
When we read The Awakening by Kate Chopin last year, my favourite parts of the book were her descriptions of the sea.


message 12: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 150 comments Madge UK wrote: "I do not favour Austen because she writes, as Charlotte Bronte said, with 'too fine a pen', with too little description. She is too genteel for my rougher sensibilities:) "

Well, that is an astute observation. I think it is part of her classicism that she does not try to describe the ineffable.
"I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree," etc.
(That's not a JA quote, of course, but it sums up the attitude)


message 13: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments There are many classics written with broader pens!


message 14: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Probably my favorite writer of all time is Arthur Ransome, whose books I have read too many times to count.

But my favorite writers after Ransome are Homer, Plato, Austen (I find her fine pen much more to my liking than the, to me, more crass writing of the Brontes), Hardy, Trollope, and George Eliot.


message 15: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 150 comments Madge UK wrote: "There are many classics written with broader pens!"

Oh, sorry, Madge. I see your point now..

But I didn't mean 'classic' in the sense of old and revered (or literally, taught in class), but 'classical' as opposed to 'romantic'- the restrained, focused writing like Racine or Horace.. hmm, come to think of it, there are very few strictly classical writers.

Anyway, here is an excerpt from "Racine" by Lytton Strachey:

But what is it that makes the English reader fail to recognise the beauty and the power of such passages as these? Besides Racine’s lack of extravagance and bravura, besides his dislike of exaggerated emphasis and far-fetched or fantastic imagery, there is another characteristic of his style to which we are perhaps even more antipathetic — its suppression of detail. The great majority of poets — and especially of English poets — produce their most potent effects by the accumulation of details — details which in themselves fascinate us either by their beauty or their curiosity or their supreme appropriateness. But with details Racine will have nothing to do; he builds up his poetry out of words which are not only absolutely simple but extremely general, so that our minds, failing to find in it the peculiar delights to which we have been accustomed, fall into the error of rejecting it altogether as devoid of significance. And the error is a grave one, for in truth nothing is more marvellous than the magic with which Racine can conjure up out of a few expressions of the vaguest import a sense of complete and intimate reality. When Shakespeare wishes to describe a silent night he does so with a single stroke of detail —‘not a mouse stirring’! And Virgil adds touch upon touch of exquisite minutiae:

Cum tacet omnis ager, pecudes, pictaeque volucres,

Quaeque lacus late liquidos, quaeque aspera dumis

Rura tenent, etc.

Racine’s way is different, but is it less masterly?

Mais tout dort, et l’armée, et les vents, et Neptune.

What a flat and feeble set of expressions! is the Englishman’s first thought — with the conventional ‘Neptune,’ and the vague ‘armée,’ and the commonplace ‘vents.’ And he forgets to notice the total impression which these words produce — the atmosphere of darkness and emptiness and vastness and ominous hush.

https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/stra...


message 16: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2784 comments Mod
I have always found Racine's poetic language very powerful.
I studied French Literature in university and learned about the strict rules for French drama, in contrast to Shakespeare's sprawling canvas.
Both are great in their own way.


message 17: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 150 comments It should almost go without saying that if one substitutes "Austen" for "Racine," it would work as an explanation of her art as well.
(up to the French verse, of course)


message 18: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4460 comments Mod
Next question....favorite book as a child?


message 19: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 594 comments Ugh, I had the worst taste as a child! My favorite was The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson—heaven knows why. I read it again a few years ago and found it pointlessly bloodthirsty, with a pathetic female character. I also liked a didactic effort called The Gammage Cup. The only childhood fave I don’t blush over is The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald.


message 20: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4460 comments Mod
My favorite was Stuart Little by EB White. I was tiny tiny so I really related to Stuart the mouse, I also loved Pollyanna


message 21: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Deborah wrote: "Next question....favorite book as a child?"

Swallows and Amazons. Hands down favorite book.


message 22: by Juliet (new)

Juliet Valcourt (julietvalcourt) | 5 comments The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was my favorite as a child and I still like it! I outgrew the Little House series though.


message 23: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2784 comments Mod
I think I liked Heidi a lot. Also Doctor Dolittle books, especially the book where they go to the moon.


message 24: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Murtha So many, but if I have to pick one, Harriet the Spy.


message 25: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1293 comments Mod
One of my favorites was Starring Sally J Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume. One thing I appreciate about it now was that I understood more each time I read it (I read it several times), and there are even parts of the book that I didn't understand as a child, but do now. It's an entertaining book that deals with topics like the Holocaust, racism and segregation in a child-friendly way (but, again, you understand more of the nuances in it with age and re-readings). I'll get it for my daughter when she's old enough.


message 26: by mark (new)

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 21 comments Swiss Family Robinson, probably. although I didn't love it as much when I reread it as a teen. overdue for a third read!

also in the running: Field Guide to Little People, Chronicles of Narnia, Golden Shadow, Hickory, Zodiac and Its Mysteries, James and the Giant Peach, Children's Bible, Mastering Witchcraft, various books by Edward Eager and Edith Blayton and Louise Fitzhugh and L. Frank Baum, Dark Is Rising series, House with a Clock in Its Walls.


message 27: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2784 comments Mod
I really liked Swiss Family Robinson as a child, not so much on re-reading it as an adult.


message 28: by Robin P, Moderator (last edited Jan 01, 2018 08:50PM) (new)

Robin P | 2063 comments Mod
I like Austen, Dickens and Dumas - maybe a strange combination, but I think it's because they all use humor. I admire Hardy but I don't reread his books. And I always prefer dialogue over description.

Mark, I am happy to see you mention Edward Eager, who is along with E Nesbitt, a forerunner of JK Rowling. As a child, I liked fairy tales or big books like Heidi, as well as some of questionable value (Bobbsey Twins and comic books ).

We had a series of children's adaptations that included Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, and The Three Musketeers, all of which I love to this day. I was a bit surprised when I read a more complete version of the musketeers in high school to find an illustration of a man hanging his wife, which had been omitted from the abridged version. And when I was in college and read the original in French, I found there were additional chapters about d'Artagnan's indiscriminate lovemaking that hadn't been in either English version.


message 29: by mark (new)

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 21 comments glad you mentioned Nesbitt! forgot about her. there's a couple books I remember loving, 5 Children and It (I think that's what it's called) and Enchanted Castle.


message 30: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Murtha The Enchanted Castle is a huge favorite of mine.


message 31: by Pip (last edited Jan 02, 2018 02:56PM) (new)

Pip | 468 comments Pippi Longstocking, obvs :-D

Reasons?

- freckles (and proud of them)
- strongest girl in the world
- has a huge chest of gold coins
- daughter of a pirate king, ie : a Pirate Princess etc etc.

I was really, really lucky as a child in that my parents taught me to read before I started school (and got told off for it, haha!) and my father was a publisher's rep, so brought us lots of free books home from his travels. It's definitely true that if parents are passionate about books, their kids will be too.

I used to read all sorts; I'd go through themed reads according to my latest fad (e.g.: Ballet Shoes, The Silver Brumby - the typical ballet and pony phases. But I'd also read 'grown up' lit like Lorna Doone or Mansfield Park - largely encouraged by BBC or ITV adaptations. I know some here don't like film or tv adaptations of books on principle and I understand the reasons, but I truly believe they bring a wider number of readers to novels, both young and old. (Maybe that's for a separate discussion ;-))


message 32: by Pip (new)

Pip | 468 comments Rosemarie wrote: "I have always found Racine's poetic language very powerful.
I studied French Literature in university and learned about the strict rules for French drama, in contrast to Shakespeare's sprawling can..."


I also studied French lit at university, and also learnt about the highly structured format that Racine needed to stick to. I think I admired it in the way that I admire a Shakespeare sonnet or a Classical symphony with their strict adherence to form: to produce something exceptional from within quite reduced boundaries is genius.

On the other hand, I was quite glad when we left Phèdre and got on to Beaumarchais and Molière. Too much tragedy can make a Pirate Princess dull.


message 33: by Robin P, Moderator (last edited Jan 02, 2018 03:49PM) (new)

Robin P | 2063 comments Mod
Pip wrote: "Rosemarie wrote: "I have always found Racine's poetic language very powerful.
I studied French Literature in university and learned about the strict rules for French drama, in contrast to Shakespea..."


Hi Rosemarie and Pip, I was also a French major. I agree that Racine is very graceful but I preferred the comedies as well, and the Romantics (Hugo and Dumas) who tried to emulate Shakespeare in mixing comedy and tragedy within a play. It was a shocking moment when Victor Hugo had a character in a play ask the plebeian question "What time is it?"

For our Feb book we are reading Eugénie Grandet by Balzac and those who know French are welcome to read the original, which is available free through various sources.

I guess we are getting off topic but to relate it back to childhood, my mother had studied French, German and Spanish in college, so we had multilingual books at home and she taught me some French starting when I was about 10. (She planned to go work in Europe but right around when she finished college, WW II started, and she never did get there. But it's probably due to her influence that I got into languages myself.)


message 34: by Pip (new)

Pip | 468 comments Robin wrote: "Pip wrote: "Rosemarie wrote: "I have always found Racine's poetic language very powerful.
I studied French Literature in university and learned about the strict rules for French drama, in contrast ..."


Do you use / work with languages now, Robin?


message 35: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2063 comments Mod
Pip wrote: "Robin wrote: "Pip wrote: "Rosemarie wrote: "I have always found Racine's poetic language very powerful.
I studied French Literature in university and learned about the strict rules for French drama..."


Actually, I do. I taught high school French for a few years before realizing I didn't really like it. I then worked in business a long time but it was always Spanish that was desired. I can understand some Spanish but I can't really converse in it. However, 10 years ago I found a job where I work with people in Quebec (as well as the rest of Canada and the US) so some of the time I get to speak and write French. It did take me a little while to get used to the accent though!


message 36: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2784 comments Mod
I live in Canada and it does take time to get used to the Quebec accent, which is why I can readily understand French films from France, but TV shows from Quebec are really more difficult to understand.


message 37: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4460 comments Mod
What has impacted your choice of reading material?


message 38: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 594 comments Serendipity! Goodreads is great for that.


message 39: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4460 comments Mod
Abigail wrote: "Serendipity! Goodreads is great for that."

Your answer made me smile. I love browsing in an actual store and finding something that strikes my fancy.


message 40: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 594 comments I used to love that, but now my vision is such that I have to either stand on the other side of the room from the shelves or stick my nose in the bindings.


message 41: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4460 comments Mod
Abigail wrote: "I used to love that, but now my vision is such that I have to either stand on the other side of the room from the shelves or stick my nose in the bindings."

Mine isn’t great either. Nose in the bindings is best...you get that great book smell


message 42: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2784 comments Mod
I have learned about a lot of new to me authors on goodreads, which greatly helps when browsing in used book stores and sales. I also get ideas at the library, just browsing the shelves.


message 43: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4460 comments Mod
Take a look at our to be read shelf - which book are you most anxious to read. If it’s not there, remember you can always put it on the books I want to read thread.


message 44: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4460 comments Mod
Deborah wrote: "Take a look at our to be read shelf - which book are you most anxious to read. If it’s not there, remember you can always put it on the books I want to read thread."

I’m looking forward to reading The Female Quixote


message 45: by Pip (new)

Pip | 468 comments I would love to know what other RReviewers think of this, though I can probably guess..

"Shelf effacement: how not to organise your bookshelves
A new trend to ‘coordinate’ the look of your library by turning the spines to face inward defies good sense. But apparently it’s catching on."

https://www.theguardian.com/books/boo...


message 46: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick Rather like hiring an expensive and well regarded painter to create something for your living room on the condition that it match your sofa.

If you are the kind of person who buys your books by the yard because they look good on a shelf, then how much better can they look if they do match the tout ensemble.

OTOH it gives people like me another excuse for buying more than one copy of a book I already have

So call me uncertain.


message 47: by Pip (new)

Pip | 468 comments Phrodrick wrote: "Rather like hiring an expensive and well regarded painter to create something for your living room on the condition that it match your sofa. "

Haha! Somebody in the comments section says it's like having a really amazing art collection and turning all the paintings to face the wall because the colour of the back of the canvas goes better with the décor.


message 48: by mark (new)

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 21 comments Both hilarious and abominable.


message 49: by Pip (new)

Pip | 468 comments mark wrote: "Both hilarious and abominable."

I agree. But I do wonder that nobody has thought of the Bookshelf Design Middleground: as long as your shelves are deep enough (and, obvs, stylish enough) place your books spine UP (ie: the books will be facing bottom-out. Let's call it book-mooning). You retain the ability to see what's what as long as you're close enough, whilst still achieving that Shades of Beige/Stroke/Neutral that fashion demands. Quoi?


message 50: by mark (new)

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 21 comments LOL, love it! This focus on neutral color schemes has also convinced me that my black cat is overdue for a good dyeing. She really doesn't match her surroundings and imagine that must be hard on some eyes.


« previous 1
back to top