Today Ellana Rose Thornton-Wheybrew, a writer of short fiction and poetry, is guest posting on the topic of classic literature. This is a topic I've covered only briefly before, and I'm happy to share this post. You can check out more of Ellana's writing at her website. Another pretty good blog to follow for thoughts on classic literature is my friend Hero's blog, so give it a look too if you're interested!
What are your favorite classics?
Thanks for checking in, guys, and please do come back next time for a post on adulthood!
Like most people, I had to read “the classics” as a part of studying English Literature at school. I guess, like most people, I hated them. Jane Eyre was dull and predictable; most of the Shakespeare plays bored me to tears; even the “modern classics” were awful. I hated having to praise the writing skills of authors that did not interest me.
Do not get me wrong, I loved reading then just as much as I do now. I could recite The Raven and Tennyson’s In Memoriam at will and my favourite poets included Byron, Poe, Tennyson, and Barrett Browning. The works I had to study, especially the modern ones, barely interested me. The writers of centuries long gone fascinated me.
I started with what I loved, namely Edgar Allen Poe, and worked outwards. I devoured the works of Ann Radcliffe, finding a beauty in her words from the 1790s in the same way my teachers would preach about the beauty they could see in the books we were studying. I found a beauty in the words of authors that practically no one had even heard about, and in all honesty it felt like my little secret.
I did not and still do not care about the contextual background of these works, like I was supposed to for English Literature. I love the beauty of the words, the depth of the characters, the twists and turns of the plots. The sweeping landscapes that are described so perfectly appear like paintings in my mind, each line adding more brushstrokes. If others wish to find political, socioeconomic, or historical backgrounds in the works, great; personally, I am more than happy with the surface story.
Soon my bookcases were overflowing with centuries of authors and their words, from Gilgamesh to The Picture of Dorian Gray and everything in between. Shortly after that I ran out of space on my eReader. Naturally, not all of what I read was enjoyable, but I loved the experience of reading something from lifetimes ago.
I still dislike Jane Eyre, and Romeo and Juilet will always be a tragedy to me, rather than something romantic. I do think that studying these works has tainted my opinion of them, but I urge you to read the old books. Some have fallen out of print because they have been neglected, and I would hate for more books to be lost.
Here is a list of the works that I utterly adore, with a very short description of each of them.
Early CE Literature
Images via Goodreads.
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