Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Turn of the Century Salon - January

Katherine at November’s Autumn is hosting the Turn of the Century Salon to discuss works from authors written between the 1880s and the 1930s.  The January prompt is to answer some "getting to know you" questions.  Here goes...

What draws you to read the Classics?
I have been reading the classics all my life.  My earliest memories are of my dad reading aloud to me -- he never varied from his favorites, Winnie-the-Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, and Uncle Remus stories.  My entire family, parents and four brothers and a sister, were all intense readers, and we had lots of classics on hand to choose from.  I naturally started reading Dickens, the Brontes, Shakespeare, and Austen because that's what was handy.  My brothers gave me Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, and Heminway to read.  My sister insisted I read Thomas Hardy. 

What era have you mainly read? Georgian? Victorian? Which authors?
I'm a Victorian at heart I think--I've read about just about all of Gaskell, half of Dickens, most of Eliot, some of the Brontes, a smattering of Trollope, some of Collins, and the fabulous Vanity Fair by Thakeray..  Sometimes I think reading so much Victorian lit when young made me a Victorian in mind as well--I tend to think technology is the answer, but I am nostalgic about a rural, Edenesque mythical past.  I do prefer realism over other literary forms.
I've read all of Austen, of course, and a bit of Fielding, Burney, and Edgeworth.  I am finally getting started on Sir Walter Scott this year with Waverley.
What Classics have you read from the 1880s-1930s? What did you think of them?
A lot of my high school, college and early adult reading was in this timeframe.  I read most of Thomas Mann for a senior seminar in college (think Death in Venice is brilliant), and read most of D.H. Lawrence.  The Great Gatsby is one of my all time favorite novels, and I really like Fitzgerald's short stories thought I'm not enamoured with his other novels.  I've read some Henry James and some Virginia Woolf, but struggle to like either. I do like Edith Wharton a lot and want to read more of her works, likewise Willa Cather.  I've read some of Jack London.  I also love detective fiction from this era.  I like Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw, and would like to explore other playrights of the time.  I love Hart Crane poetry--The Brooklyn Bridge collection is fabulous.  Just reread it last fall.
Name some books you're looking forward to read for the salon.
House of Mirth - Edith Wharton
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson
The Virginian - Owen Wister
Captains Courageous - Rudyard Kipling
A Passage to India - E.M. Forster
Mystery Mile - Margery Allingham
The Blue Castle - L.M. Montgomery
Which authors do you hope to learn more about?
Literature changed so much from 1880 to 1930--I would like to get a sense about how the political/social changes are seen in literary changes.
Which literary characters are you most akin to?
I like pioneers, in the literal sense and the metaphorical.  It takes so much courage to leave what is familiar and comfortable and strike out in search of a better life.  I'm never sure whether it is optimism that enables someone to go forth, or pessimism that life as it is will never get better so it's better to go than to stay.
Which authors do you love?
So many--too many!
Is your preference prose? poetry? both?
Prose but the poetry I love I really love.  My comfort zone is prose, though.


  1. I took a few classes in college that covered 1890 to 1940 that I really loved. Have you read Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God? It's one of my favorites and it would fit into the time period.

    1. I read Their Eyes Were Watching God in 2011 and was amazed by it. Powerful writing and fascinating story. Did not see the ending coming at all!

  2. I didn't realize The Virginian was from this era! Will be adding it to my list as well.

    1. I should add - I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on Jekyll and Hyde! I would like to re-read that one.

  3. I will have to look for The Brooklyn Bridge; I know very little about poetry and even less about the poetry from this time period, so it might be time to educate myself a bit.

    1. Clarification, Tasha. The collection of poems is called "The Bridge," and my favorite of the poems is called "To Brooklyn Bridge."


  4. I feel like such a slacker now! I'll blame my dad - he didn't get nearly as many classics into our hands (although that was most of what he read to us).

  5. Your answer to the first question with your father's favourites took me right back to my childhood, particularly with Uncle Remus. I loved Brer Rabbit, but I can't remember reading the books, maybe my dad read them to me too, he read, or made up stories, at bedtime each night.

  6. Another great group read! I love your anwser to the question of what authors you love. My sentiments exactly!