Weekly Geeks 1/23/2009

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Somehow missed last week’s challenge.  I don’t know how everyone keeps up with all things internet!  This is a great one, classics. Do you love them? Do you loath them? Do they mean absolutely nothing in you life.  Good questions to choose from and great responses linked to the site.

For your assignment this week, choose two or more of the following questions:

1) How do you feel about classic literature? Are you intimidated by it? Love it? Not sure because you never actually tried it? Don’t get why anyone reads anything else? Which classics, if any, have you truly loved? Which would you recommend for someone who has very little experience reading older books? Go all out, sell us on it!

2) A challenge, should you choose to accept it: Read at least one chapter of a classic novel, preferably by an author you’re not familiar with. Did you know you can find lots of classics in the public domain on the web? Check out The Popular Classic Book Corner
, for example. Write a mini-review based on this chapter: what are your first impressions? Would you read further? (For a larger selection of authors, try The Complete Classic Literature Library).

3) Let’s say you’re vacationing with your dear cousin Myrtle, and she forgot to bring a book. The two of you venture into the hip independent bookstore around the corner, where she primly announces that she only reads classic literature. If you don’t find her a book, she’ll never let you get any reading done! What contemporary book/s with classic appeal would you pull off the shelf for her?

4) As you explore the other Weekly Geeks posts: Did any inspire you to want to read a book you’ve never read before—or reread one to give it another chance? Tell us all about it, including a link to the post or posts that sparked your interest. If you end up reading the book, be sure to include a link to your post about it in a future Weekly Geeks post!

1) So, back in high school I read the classics, part of my WASPY upbringing.    No thanks to my crotchety old English Lit. teacher.  She used to have our papers graded by some guy with his head in the sand(or maybe it was someplace else)  and so steeped in stilted language and ideas that I was turned off to writing for years.  We  struggled through Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” read by some actor in Old English!  Couldn’t understand a word.  We read what was expected of us and I enjoyed some of it but we weren’t really challenged by what we read,  just following along in the footsteps of many before us, and not really thinking about it.  I blame a biased, small town education system.

I grew up in New England and had to discover Sarah Orne Jewett on my own.  Must have been because she was a women, as was Willa Cather.   Then there was Frankenstein, again written by a women, and sensational besides.   And what about  Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle or Wilkie Collins?   Too odd or scary?  We did read a bit of Poe and Hawthorne,  just a bit, probably because there was some Yankee connection. We totally missed great European literature, I guess if it wasn’t originally written in English it didn’t count.

Thankfully I didn’t give up reading ‘classics’ and when I started exploring books on my own I began to discover classic literature way beyond the scope of my high school English class.  Having a great professor in college certainly helped.  She introduced us to so many wonderful authors and to classic literature from all over the worth.  Now I am trying to do the same for my elementary and middle school students.  I always have something “classic” on my TBR pile.  This year I will finally get around to reading Middlemarch.

As an introduction for someone having little experience with older books I would suggest The MoonstoneJane Eyre or even Alice in Wonderland.  Do we consider our favorite childhood classics to be classics or are they really just children’s  books?

Oh, has anyone read The House on the Borderlands?  Very creepy and said to have influenced Lovecraft.

4) So, while looking through the posts on the Weekly Geeks page I spied this and am now hooked.  I had never heard of The Damnation of Theron Ware or of Harold Frederic.  Frances brings up an interesting question.  What exactly is a classic?  And do we read them just because we are told to?  It’s like my experience in high school.  Everything we read had been filtered through someone’s or some group’s idea of what was acceptable.  Hopefully this has changed.  I intend to read this book and will post a review when I do.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Weekly Geeks 1/23/2009

  1. I hadn’t heard of the Frederic book either!

  2. What a fantastic post! This is exactly the reason that so many adolescents are turned off reading when they get a narrowly defined canon from which to select. I hope you love the Harold Frederic as much as I do!

  3. We have the same answer on the last question! I will be reading that Harold Frederic because of Frances’s post, too. :)

  4. I must read The House on the Borderlands!! Anything that inspired Lovecraft would probably appeal to me!

  5. alirambles

    Most of those childhood classics weren’t actually even written for children, were they? In my opinion they count as classics for sure.

    I will have to check out Sarah Orne Jewett, because I had never even heard of her!

  6. There is a lot of new-to-me stuff mentioned here. Off to learn more!

  7. Pingback: Weekly Geeks: 2009-03

  8. I have to say, I think our teachers did a fairly good job of not killing literature for us, although that could just be because I like reading! I don’t know if other students would say the same thing. I had never heard of Sarah Orne Jewett either, but I think I will put her A Country Doctor on my TBR list.

  9. this was excellent and there are a lot of new authors for me to check out later.

  10. Pingback: Weekly Geeks v9.03: Other Passions | Literary Escapism

  11. awesome, that is good stuff. It is amazing how who we have as a teacher can make a work worthwile or not.

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