Although I haven’t mentioned classics that often here yet, I do love reading them every once in a while, and I thought this tag was the perfect way to pay tribute to some of my favorites (or least favorites). This tag was originally created by It’s a Books World, so here’s a link to their original post: http://itsabooksworld.booklikes.com/post/1104267/the-classics-booktag-original. Again, I wasn’t tagged to do this, but when has that ever stopped me?
1. An overhyped classic you really didn’t like:
I absolutely hated The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I get why some people would really connect to it, but I just found it extremely depressing, I detested Holden and his whininess, and I also hated how phony he himself was, even though he claimed to dislike phonies.
I also really didn’t like The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. My main issue with this was that I found it to be extremely boring; the only action happened at the very end when I was already half asleep from reading the beginning. I hated how uninteresting all the characters were; they constantly went to bland parties and met up with one another, but never did anything they really enjoyed. Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy also annoyed me to no end – she was obviously a spoiled rich brat who didn’t care deeply for anyone apart from herself, but of course, Gatsby idolized her anyway. I guess that’s sort of the point because it’s supposed to be a tragic story about doomed love interfering with the American Dream, but I just thought that the annoyingness of the characters added to the annoyingness of the boring plot. The only thing this had going for it was giving an insight into the time period – but that wasn’t enough to convince me.
Another classic I don’t like is Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Robinson is arrogant and somehow excels at everything without ever having done it before, and even worse, the book is extremely racist. Not to mention scientifically completely unrealistic.
And, finally, to also name a German classic – Iphigenie auf Tauris by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The main character is the most annoying, perfect person ever, which made for an extremely bland, boring play with barely any conflict.
2. Favorite time period to read about:
Probably the Victorian Era. There’s just something about the darkness of industrial age London, the gloomy moors, gothic tropes and imperial Britain that I can’t help but find fascinating. The beginnings of feminism, the clash of the different social classes, of extreme poverty and wealth, can really make you think about society and there are so many great authors from this era, such as the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, just to name a few.
3. Favorite fairy-tale:
I’m not sure I have one definite favorite. There are several I reread over and over again, but one of my favorites is probably Allerleirauh, which is one of the tales collected by the brothers Grimm. Funnily enough, I have yet to meet someone outside of Germany who knows this tale, but it’s pretty popular here. It follows the story of a princess who escapes her home kingdom because her father wants to marry her after her mother’s death.
I also adore the entire collection of the Arabian Nights (One Thousand and One Nights), at least the kid’s version first made popular by Antoine Galland in the 18th century – if you’ve heard of the tales, this is probably the version you’re familiar with. However, I have to say that the original is very different. Knowing how much I loved the stories, my mom gave me a translation of the Arabian version (that was probably copied from a Persian one around the 8th century) and I really dislike that one. It basically only includes descriptions of rape and war and the tales themselves are much shorter – if even complete – and less magical than the ones included in the version that is popular today. Still, it’s extremely interesting to see the comparison.
Finally, some of my other favorites include The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen or the tales of The Caravan by Wilhelm Hauff.
4. Most embarrassing classic you haven’t read yet:
Probably Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. I know, I know, it’s terrible. I’m minoring in English and love Shakespeare, and yet I haven’t gotten around to reading his most famous play. It’s bad… However, I’m hoping to rectify that soon – I definitely want to have read all Shakespeare plays before I finish university!
5. Top 5 classics you would like to read (soon):
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot, and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Ugh, this is yet another embarrassment – I’ve actually started reading Pride and Prejudice twice, but I never got farther than 80 pages in. And, to add to my list of sins, I have already seen the movie despite not having read the book yet).
6. Favorite modern book/series based on a classic:
Maybe Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood? I read this recently and found it to be an extremely enjoyable retelling/staging of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. I also remember adoring T.A. Barron’s The Lost Years of Merlin series when I was younger and think I should definitely reread that again soon, since I’m getting a bit hazy on the details. That, of course, is a retelling based on the Arthurian legend (I’m not sure if this really counts as a classic since it’s not an individual book but a legend that developed over the span of hundreds of years in several different countries, but we’re just going to count it here…).
7. Favorite movie version/tv-series based on a classic:
Hmm – I don’t really have one here that stands out. I did really enjoy the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice (the one with Keira Knightly), but since I haven’t read the book yet, I can’t really say how it compares. I also really enjoyed the 2006 BBC Jane Eyre mini-series/movie (it was originally shown in four parts, but you can now buy it as one movie) – it stays very true to the book and made me really happy, since I’d almost given up on ever finding a good adaptation after all the awful ones I’d seen. Especially the 2011 one – I absolutely hated the way Jane was portrayed in that one. Another pretty good adaptation is the 2005 version of Oliver Twist, although there were a couple of things left out and I did think some parts of it came across even darker than in the book. Speaking of Dickens, I also really like watching adaptations of A Christmas Carol, especially around Christmas time. Most of the ones I’ve seen are pretty good and true to the original – my favorite might be the one starring Patrick Stewart as Ebenezer Scrooge, however, the problem here is that I can’t separate him from Picard from StarTrek and can’t take the movie entirely seriously…
8. Worst classic to movie adaptation:
I am severely disappointed by the Netflix series Anne with an “E”. They turned Anne from a happy child with a wonderful imagination into a troubled waif whose imagination is a dark product of her horrible upbringing. Also, what was the deal with turning Matthew from a lovable, shy father figure into a troubled old man willing to kill himself? What a way to ruin my favorite classic series of all time – and the worst thing was, the first episode actually started out very promising… I seem to be pretty alone on hating this one, though.
9. Favorite edition(s) you’d like to collect more classics from:
The Barnes & Noble leather-bound editions are absolutely gorgeous. Being me, I don’t own any of them because I always reach for the cheapest edition available, but if someone ever wants to give me a birthday present…
10. An underhyped classic you’d recommend to everyone:
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. This is a wonderful story about a young man, Gilbert Markham, who gets to know a woman who has just come to town and lives alone with her young son. The absence of the Helen Graham’s husband and her standoffishness seems pretty scandalous to the other villagers, but Gilbert takes the time to get to know Helen and discovers the true story of why she lives alone. This book is extremely progressive for its time and offers an eye-opening insight into what it’s like to live in an abusive home, while at the same time being a delightful love story. Honestly, why does everyone always forget about Anne when raving about the Brontë sisters?