Classics and the Western Canon discussion

232 views
General > Planning for our Next Major Read, part 4

Comments Showing 1-50 of 267 (267 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1 3 4 5 6

message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Since the Oresteia will only take six weeks, I thought it might be a good idea to start the selection process for our next major read now, to give time to run the poll in plenty of time for people to get the book that is selected.

I ran the random generator on our bookshelf, and it came up with an interesting selection which is heavy on novels for some reason. I did drop off a few titles it had selected for reasons I'll go into in another post. Here is the list, in alphabetic order by title, that will go into our next poll, which I'll put up soon:

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain
Aeneid, Virgil
Confessions of an English Opium Eater, Quincey
Ethics, Aristotle
La Mort D’Arthur, Malory
Leviathan, Hobbes
Little Dorrit, Dickens
The Magic Mountain, Mann
The Red and the Black, Stendhal
The Vicar of Wakefield, Goldsmith

As in the past, if one title clearly dominates, that will be selected. If not, the top several will be put into a run-off poll. (The exact number in the run-off will depend on how the voting comes out. Sometimes there are two clear top choices to pick between, sometimes three or four huddle on the top of the list any one of which may garner winning support in a follow-up poll so all of which should be given the chance.)

Lobbying is very definitely permitted. And votes can be changed during the duration of the poll, so if lobbing persuades you that something would be better than your first choice, you are free to change your vote until the poll closes.

Have at it!


toria (vikz writes) (victoriavikzwrites) | 186 comments Everyman wrote: "Since the Oresteia will only take six weeks, I thought it might be a good idea to start the selection process for our next major read now, to give time to run the poll in plenty of time for people ..."

These all look good to me, looking forward to discovering what you all want to read.


message 3: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments I mentioned that I had dropped several of the random selections from the list. These were of two categories. One was short works that wouldn't really qualify for a major read (Conan Doyle's Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, which should actually be on the "read" list, was selected and dropped for length) and collections that didn't really hold together but any one of which would be a good short single read (The Prussian Officer and other stories also got dropped because I thought it would be too disjointed for a good long discussion).

However, some of the shorter works or collections of works (Chekhov's Short Novels and Short Stories definitely come to mind; also Plato's complete dialogues and Plutarch's Lives) are definitely worth reading and discussing here if there is interest, so I want to consider whether there is a way to incorporate them. Some will show up as Interim Reads, assuming they're available on the Internet, but others won't, and there are only so many Interim Read slots available (and already a lengthy list of candidate!)

I'm wondering whether there would be interest in, maybe during the holiday season when time for sustained reading is at a premium and people tend to be distracted by other activities, scheduling a series shorter works voted on by the group in lieu of one major read. It might be, for example, a sequence of one Moliere play, one Chekhov story, one Platonic dialogue, and one pair of Plutarch's lives (he links them in pairs, one Greek, one Roman), of maybe one to three weeks per work. This would enable the group to select works of interest that wouldn't normally qualify for major reads. The downside would be that if some of the works aren't available on the Internet, people might have to buy or borrow from the library books which would only be read for a short period (though all these books are, after all, definitely worth owning!)

The other downside is that it would reduce the time available for scheduling major reads, so that we would have one or two fewer major reads during the year.

A third possibility, if people are up for it (I'm not sure I am!) is to run a parallel set of short reads alongside the major and interim reads (I wouldn't give up the interim reads because I think they serve an important role in giving time to finish one major read before having to start the next). This would mean two active discussions going on at all times. Would this divert too much time and attention from the major work, or would it keep people engaged and maybe give an opportunity for continuing group participation by people who for some reason choose to sit out a major read?

And the final, important, question is this: is the current format working well enough, and don't mess with success?


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) I'll stick my toe in the water here--

I'd love to read Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur (I think it is 'Le' not 'La', Everyman;-); and Stendhal's The Red and the Black with all of you. Two books that I've wanted to read for some time, and actually reside on my shelves.


message 5: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Christopher wrote: "I'll stick my toe in the water here--

I'd love to read Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur (I think it is 'Le' not 'La', Everyman;-);"


Oops. Thanks. I've corrected it.

I'm conflicted -- there are several here I would love to read with this group, particularly the Aeneid, the Magic Mountain, Leviathan, and Aristotle's Ethics. But any of them would suit me -- amazingly, there were no "duds" in this list.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Hmph. How are we supposed to vote on THAT list? Lots of things there I want to read. Dartboard time.


message 7: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Kate wrote: "Hmph. How are we supposed to vote on THAT list? Lots of things there I want to read. Dartboard time."

I feel the same way.


message 8: by Aranthe (new)

Aranthe | 103 comments Christopher wrote: "I'll stick my toe in the water here--

I'd love to read Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur (I think it is 'Le' not 'La', Everyman;-); ..."


That's two. While there are many good choices, I've a weakness for works based on medieval myths and legends.


message 9: by toria (vikz writes) (last edited Sep 08, 2010 12:10PM) (new)

toria (vikz writes) (victoriavikzwrites) | 186 comments Aranthe wrote: "Christopher wrote: "I'll stick my toe in the water here--

I'd love to read Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur (I think it is 'Le' not 'La', Everyman;-); ..."

That's two. While there are many good choices..."


Me too, I have always wanted to read that.


message 10: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary | 232 comments Oh, man. The Aeneid and The Magic Mountain are both on the top of my To Read list. Le Morte d'Arthur is actually sitting on my shelf. Oh, and I've also wanted to read The Vicar of Wakefield for a while, and Dickens is always good and . . . oh, damn.

As to the rest, I say Don't Mess With A Good Thing.

Personally, I take most of my vacation time over the holidays, and do more heavy reading then than at any other time of the year. I would rather have a major read during that time.


message 11: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments S. Rosemary wrote: "Oh, man. The Aeneid and The Magic Mountain are both on the top of my To Read list. Le Morte d'Arthur is actually sitting on my shelf. Oh, and I've also wanted to read The Vicar of Wakefield for a ..."

Yeah, I know. I haven't been able to vote yet myself; I just can't find the commitment. We may have to stick with this list for a couple of readings.


message 12: by Paula (new)

Paula | 63 comments What a great list! I just finished The Vicar of Wakefield a few weeks ago, so know that it would be a fun, quick read here. I won't be voting this time, as I'm behind in this group so can't commit to joining in on the group read after Aeschylus just yet.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Choices, choices! Why do they make me make so many choices when all I want to do is go with the flow? Although I want to read Virgil and re-read Aristotle, perhaps not immediately after Aeschylus?


message 14: by Penny (new)

Penny | 33 comments Vikz wrote: "Aranthe wrote: "Christopher wrote: "I'll stick my toe in the water here--

I'd love to read Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur (I think it is 'Le' not 'La', Everyman;-); ..."

That's two. While there are m..."


Add me to the list.


message 15: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary | 232 comments Oh, dear, the 'change your vote' function is dangerous.

At the moment I'm feeling excited about Le Morte d'Arthur, as I love Arthurian legend in general, and I'd like an excuse to buy a gorgeous old hardcover with the Beardsley illustrations.

But I doubt I'd ever get through Virgil without the support of a book group . . . and I really want to read Virgil.


message 16: by Kevin (new)

Kevin | 10 comments My top choice is Leviathan, followed by The Aeneid. Malory would be way down my list...


message 17: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments I'm frankly amazed at the interest in going from one lengthy early English (1667) read in Paradise Lost people are ready to plunge into an even longer (my edition is 896 pages; the Norton edition is 1024 pages) even earlier (1485) read.

If the book gets chosen and people don't have a copy, the only unabridged edition I could find easily is the Norton Critical edition, under the title Le Morte Darthur (so if you search for Arthur, it doesn't show up).

There are a variety of other books that masquerade as the legends of Arthur, but are either adaptations or abridged or in some other way not the real thing. So before you lock in your final vote, make sure you can find a full unabridged edition of the original work!

(Christopher -- you said you had a copy; I hope unabridged. We don't read abridgments here!)


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

If we do Mallory, how long are you planning for it Everyman?


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Everyman wrote: "I'm frankly amazed at the interest in going from one lengthy early English (1667) read in Paradise Lost people are ready to plunge into an even longer (my edition is 896 pages; the Norton edition i..."

Mine is unabridged. I cannot imagine owning or reading an abridged book period! Here's the link to my edition of Le Morte D' Arthur; it is the B&N hardbound, profusely illustrated, edited by John Matthews, and illustrated by Anna Marie Ferguson, and published in 2004. It is truly a gorgeous edition!


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Christopher wrote: "Everyman wrote: "I'm frankly amazed at the interest in going from one lengthy early English (1667) read in Paradise Lost people are ready to plunge into an even longer (my edition is 896 pages; the..."

That's the copy my library has. Looks pretty. I figure I can get it for 6 weeks, 9 if they let me renew twice. Hence the question to Everyman.


message 21: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Christopher wrote: "Here's the link to my edition of Le Morte D' Arthur; it is the B&N hardbound, profusely illustrated, edited by John Matthews, and illustrated by Anna Marie Ferguson"

That's the edition I have, only in paperback, and not B&N. Amazon doesn't sell it directly, but they link to several sellers who do. Cheapest price is $58 used, $71 new. It appears that B&N doesn't have new copies either, but directs you to some sellers who do, starting at $36 for "good" and $96 for "Like New."

So it is available, but may be pricey for people and may take a bit longer than usual to find and get a copy. Something to keep in mind.


message 22: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (last edited Sep 09, 2010 08:46PM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Everyman wrote: "Christopher wrote: "Here's the link to my edition of Le Morte D' Arthur; it is the B&N hardbound, profusely illustrated, edited by John Matthews, and illustrated by Anna Marie Ferguson"

That's the..."


You know, I honestly think I may have paid $20 for this when I bought it new. Oh, I so want to read this with all of you!


message 23: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Kate wrote: "If we do Mallory, how long are you planning for it Everyman?"

I haven't figured that out yet. It's in 21 books. If we did three books a week, that would be seven weeks, a bit over a hundred pages of reading a week. A somewhat slower pace would be two books a week, for 11 weeks.

It's an enjoyable story, but I'm not sure how much there is to discuss in it. Maybe more than meets the eye at first glance. If it does wind up being picked, we'll figure out then how long to spend on it.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Everyman wrote: "Kate wrote: "If we do Mallory, how long are you planning for it Everyman?"

I haven't figured that out yet. It's in 21 books. If we did three books a week, that would be seven weeks, a bit over a..."


I should think we'd end up having a field day with linguistics, the variations in the Arthurian mythology, theological connections, social mores, allegories and allusions, and so forth. I surmise we'd keep ourselves busy. Is it as deep as Milton's PL? No, but little is.


message 25: by Grace Tjan (new)

Grace Tjan | 381 comments Everyman wrote: "Christopher wrote: "Here's the link to my edition of Le Morte D' Arthur; it is the B&N hardbound, profusely illustrated, edited by John Matthews, and illustrated by Anna Marie Ferguson"

That's the..."


Oh dear, is it available as a download somewhere? If not, I'd probably have to pass on this one.


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Sandybanks wrote: "Everyman wrote: "Christopher wrote: "Here's the link to my edition of Le Morte D' Arthur; it is the B&N hardbound, profusely illustrated, edited by John Matthews, and illustrated by Anna Marie Ferg..."

Yes. It's in two volumes here:

http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/...

http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/...


message 27: by Grace Tjan (new)

Grace Tjan | 381 comments Kate wrote: "Sandybanks wrote: "Everyman wrote: "Christopher wrote: "Here's the link to my edition of Le Morte D' Arthur; it is the B&N hardbound, profusely illustrated, edited by John Matthews, and illustrated..."

Thanks, Kate. I've never read the "real" Arthurian legends and now am curious about it, thanks to Chris. ; )


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Sandybanks wrote: "Kate wrote: "Sandybanks wrote: "Everyman wrote: "Christopher wrote: "Here's the link to my edition of Le Morte D' Arthur; it is the B&N hardbound, profusely illustrated, edited by John Matthews, an..."

Hey, Everyman said that we could 'lobby' for our choice. This just looks like some really good fun to plow through with a good bunch of bibliophiles. I have really wanted to read it for quite some time too. Think of how we could also compare and contrast with Tennyson's Idyll's of the King and his twelve narrative poems. Or, talk about connections with Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon (the Arthurian legend from the female perspective).


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Christopher wrote: "Or, talk about connections with Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon (the Arthurian legend from the female perspective). "

The one MZB book I could never get into. It sits in pristine condition next to her well thumbed Darkover novels. I don't remember why I didn't like it, just that I tried several times to read it and never made it very far.


message 30: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary | 232 comments That's the one MZB book I HAVE read! Several times, actually.

Anyone else changing their mind every few seconds? What about Virgil? Maybe a bit much after one long epic poem and then some classical mythology.

What about Thomas Mann? I think we could have some great discussions about the meaning of illness . . . and it might be nice to read a straight up novel again after two samples from other genera.


message 31: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Everyman wrote: "Christopher wrote: "Here's the link to my edition of Le Morte D' Arthur; it is the B&N hardbound, profusely illustrated, edited by John Matthews, and illustrated by Anna Marie Ferguson"

That's the..."


I have the same one as Everyman, purchased for a pittance in 2005.


message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

S. Rosemary wrote: "That's the one MZB book I HAVE read! Several times, actually.

Anyone else changing their mind every few seconds? What about Virgil? Maybe a bit much after one long epic poem and then some classic..."


I agree on the novel for a bit of a change. I'm going for Mann.


message 33: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary | 232 comments Yeah, last night I changed my vote AGAIN for the Mann. I swear, I'm not this fickle in real life.


message 34: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Kate wrote: "S

Yes. It's in two volumes here:

http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/pub...

http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/pub...
"


Good find, Kate. It also gives people who know the work mostly by reputation to give it a try to see how they would enjoy reading it.


message 35: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Christopher wrote: "Think of how we could also compare and contrast with Tennyson's Idyll's of the King and his twelve narrative poems. Or, talk about connections with Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon (the Arthurian legend from the female perspective). "

Sounds as though we might need to schedule a lot more than 11 weeks! And, or course, there's the four volume set of T.S. White's Arthurian epic The Once and Future King, the Arthurian legends collected in The Romance of Arthur, New, Expanded Edition: An Anthology of Medieval Texts in Translation, just for starters.

I think we'll have to assign Christopher to read these for us and summarize the changes in the legend over time!

I'll volunteer to watch Camelot.


message 36: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments S. Rosemary wrote: "Anyone else changing their mind every few seconds? "

But of course. So many great choices, so little time.


message 37: by Adam (new)

Adam Walker | 1 comments Everyman wrote: "I'm frankly amazed at the interest in going from one lengthy early English (1667) read in Paradise Lost people are ready to plunge into an even longer (my edition is 896 pages; the Norton edition i..."

My edition is a reprint of the Caxton 1485. It's only 487pp, minus notes and index, and introductory aparatus.


message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

I see there is much strategic voting taking place. Either that or too many good choices and we're all dithering.


message 39: by Ibis3 (new)

Ibis3 | 53 comments I thought that I had a copy of Malory, but in fact I was remembering this Penguin that contains two of the poetic sources for Malory's version. King Arthur's Death. I voted for Le Morte D'Arthur, but since it's so long & the holidays are coming up, The Magic Mountain or one of the other novels (perhaps one more upbeat?) might be a better choice? I'm not too partisan about any of the selections (I've already read three of them & a couple of others I don't want to read quite yet).


message 40: by Kathy (new)

Kathy | 26 comments Can I lobby for Malory? I think it's an important read because it's about who we are. By this, I mean the pervasive influence of the Arthurian legends in our culture. I'm not sure I follow the logic about which book follows another... I'm new here, but as far as I can see, there are some Victorian essays (not many pages) and a Greek play trilogy (also not many pages) between Milton and the read under discussion, so won't people be ready for something a bit longer by then? Also, do members' holiday plans come into it? I usually have more time to read when I'm on holiday...
Incidentally, the BBC recently broadcast an excellent programme about the Arthur legends, narrated by poet Simon Armitage. I hope it might get re-shown and posted on the BBC iplayer. I was especially interested to learn that there's a poem called the Alliterative Morte Arthur that Armitage was enthusing about. Does anyone know it?


message 41: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Kathy wrote: "Can I lobby for Malory? "

Certainly you can. Very much so.

I guess my concern, which may be a non-concern, is whether we will have enough active readers and participants for it to make a good discussion throughout the entire discussion period. As Christopher has pointed out, there are many aspects we could talk about if there were interest, but I'm frankly not sure how many people will want to dig into different versions of the legends while we are also reading the original in order to compare them meaningfully, nor am I sure how many people will want to discuss the linguistic issues involved. Again, I may well be underestimating the group.

My main concern is to make sure that people, when they vote for a book, have a reasonable idea what they're getting into, and that those who vote for it in particular (but alto all the other group members) will be prepared to participate actively in a sustained reading and discussion of the work. If the answers to those questions are yes, then great, let's go for it. If they might be maybe or no, we need to know that before committing to a lengthy read that might not be able to sustain the level of high quality discussion this group has become known for.

That's all.


message 42: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Kathy wrote: "I was especially interested to learn that there's a poem called the Alliterative Morte Arthur that Armitage was enthusing about. Does anyone know it? "

I had never heard of it, but Wikipedia has.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allitera...

The text link in the wikipedia article to the UofVa etext is bad, and I can't find an online copy of it. Maybe one of our more expert internet researchersc an.


message 43: by Kathy (new)

Kathy | 26 comments Yes, I can see your concerns. I'm not sure that I'm up to linguistic discussions. But I would really like to read this book. My knowledge of Arthur mostly comes from the musical Camelot and the cartoon Sword in the Stone - and now, of course, there's the Merlin spinoff. Don't we owe it to ourselves to look at the earlier manifestation of this material from which an important strand of our popular culture derives? And, after all, we're still expecting Arthur to come back and rescue Albion in her time of need, aren't we?


message 44: by Ibis3 (new)

Ibis3 | 53 comments Kathy wrote: "Also, do members' holiday plans come into it? I usually have more time to read when I'm on holiday... "

Some people travel or have family engagements/holiday preparations that may interfere with reading time or ability to keep up with discussions. As Everyman says, it may not be a concern.

Kathy wrote: "a poem called the Alliterative Morte Arthure that Armitage was enthusing about. Does anyone know it? "

That's the one that I linked to in my previous post (it contains both the alliterative poem and what they refer to as the "stanzaic Le Morte Arthur". It's been sitting TBR on my shelf for probably a decade or more.


message 45: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary | 232 comments Ibis3 wrote: "I thought that I had a copy of Malory, but in fact I was remembering this Penguin that contains two of the poetic sources for Malory's version. King Arthur's Death. I voted for Le Mor..."

hah, same here. I didn't have the Malory, I had the book whereof you speak. Penguin, even!


message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

I'd like to get into Arthurian legends at some point perhaps, but this doesn't feel like the best time. I am leaning towards the Mann, but all I really know about the book is that lots of people don't finish it!

Can anyone speak to its qualities as a potential discussion book. (I note that several have voted for it.)

Personally, I would like to do Huckleberry Finn, but I doubt it has a chance. I really want to evaluate it as an adult rather than as a high school student.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Zeke wrote: "I'd like to get into Arthurian legends at some point perhaps, but this doesn't feel like the best time. I am leaning towards the Mann, but all I really know about the book is that lots of people do..."

Zeke, I can't really speak to Le Morte d'Arthur as I haven't read it. I have spent a lot of time leafing through it, and reading bits and pieces. I have always loved the Arthurian legend, and continually return to Tennyson's take on it. I voted for it because I think I would gain the most by going through it in a more disciplined structure such as this proposed group read.

I will NOT be participating in the Mann read, should it be chosen. I refuse to disparage any book (well, maybe a couple of Joyce's novels), but suffice it to say that Thomas Mann ain't for this fellow. That's okay though, I am looking forward to The Oresteia in a few days, and I have enough to keep me occupied for years to come.

Zeke, I know that I haven't really answered your question, but it is the best I can do. ;-) Cheers! Chris


message 48: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Zeke wrote: "I am leaning towards the Mann, but all I really know about the book is that lots of people don't finish it!

Can anyone speak to its qualities as a potential discussion book. "


Our local community college senior citizen "course" on The Magic Mountain a few years ago (I put course in quotation marks; they put a retired professor of literature together with a not quite a dozen learners for an eight week sort of combination lecture discussion thing, but no exams, no assignment other than the reading, no papers, etc.)

I had a lot going on at the time, including a major trial, so although I did get to all the classes except one, I'm one who didn't finish the book. One reason I want to now. But I can tell you that there's a lot in it, discussions of time, of illness, of philosophy, of early 20th century modernism, of love and lust, and much more. Our lecturer said some critics claim that it is a novel that Nietzsche could have written. I don't know about that, but it's intriguing.

One reason the lecturer (who for several years did several of these courses every year) chose it was also because a recent excellent (in his view) translation of it by John Woods had come out which he thought made it more accessible than the earlier translation. Again, I have no opinion on that, just reporting.

But I do think that if we approach it seriously, as we always do here, and work through it together, it will reward the time. But so, of course, will any of our other books on the list.

None of which is probably very helpful to you, but there it is.


message 49: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4510 comments Malory is a first rate sedative, in my experience, and I've read the Magic Mountain recently enough that I'm not sure I want to read it again right now. MM is a magnificent story though, so if it wins I might have to give it another go.

In the meantime I'm torn between two third-party candidates: Virgil and Twain. Today I'm feeling Twainish.


message 50: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 180 comments Zeke wrote: "I'd like to get into Arthurian legends at some point perhaps, but this doesn't feel like the best time. I am leaning towards the Mann, but all I really know about the book is that lots of people do..."
-------------

I read it back in 2002. I gave it a middle rating of good. Since I was reading it on my own I should have checked to see if there was a Norton Classic edition since they come with terrific footnotes and comments. I also should have seen if there were Cliffs notes or something online to get to the many deeper layers and allusions.

Still, just reading it on a basic level for the story, I enjoyed it. It's a quite read. But something about the setting touched me. I can still picture the people in their chaise lounges all bundled up as for the cure.


« previous 1 3 4 5 6
back to top