I've read a lot of classic literature, but the category is so broad it's hard to really talk about classics as a whole. So today I'm just going to talk about some of my favorites. Some I read independently; some for school. Enjoy!
Crime and Punishment
One of many masterpieces by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment follows Rodya, a Russian college-age man who has a weird concept of power and morality that leads to him killing an old lady. The entire book is about secrecy and madness and in the end, redemption. The other central character is Sonya, a prostitute who holds to Christianity as a way out of her problems. I read this book in my AP Lit class twelve grade, and I ended up really liking it.
Why? Well, it presents a lot of questions about morality and such, which are fascinating. It's also very dramatic and fun. But the best part to me is the incredible amount of Christian idealism and iconography in this novel. It's just the kind of effect I wish for my own work. (4.5 stars)
The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is an interesting depiction of the Roaring 20s that follows a few central characters. The point of view is from Nick, who isn't really that interesting. The two characters who fascinate me are Gatsby and Daisy, with their romance in the past and present and especially Gatsby's great idealism.
I read this in AP Lang eleventh grade, and honestly, you'd think I wouldn't like it. It's not a very happy book. But somehow, Gatsby's idealism, even though it doesn't win out, hit me really hard. I'm an idealist and a romantic too. I do recognize the impossibility of many dreams and the loss of the past, but somehow... I feel like he fits me. (4.5 stars)
To Kill a Mockingbird
This game changer of a book by Harper Lee explores from a child's perspective issues of morality, disability, racism, and compassion. The story, set in the Great Depression, follows Scout, a fun little girl who is quite relatable, as she hides from a strange neighbor, Boo Radley, and sees the effects of her father Atticus's attempt to save a black man from an unfair trial.
I read this in eighth grade English class, and I really enjoyed it. Scout's perspective is a great one. Her determination and spunk are inspiring. The issues addressed in the novel, and how they are addressed, is also incredible. My favorite part is the story of Boo Radley. As a promoter of disabled rights with personal experience, this take on a disabled man and the actual good he adds to the world is fantastic to me. (5 stars)
The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is my favorite classic of all time. It's the story of an adulteress, Hester, raising her child in Puritan America. The town treats her as an outcast and searches for her child's father to take up the punishment with her. The symbol of Hester's sin is a red "A" pinned to her chest.
I read this independently over a summer, and then again in AP Lang eleventh grade. I find that the Romantic style of novel suits me greatly. I love the machinations of the characters. I love the sense of guilt and mercy. I love the ending and the look at Pearl's life. Most of all, I love the duality of the book. The entire story is full of uncertain possibilities. There is so much occult questioning. You see letters in the sky that could be real or could just be a manifestation of a character's psychological guilt. Brooks and streams act in strange ways. Pearl herself appears to be almost a fantastical creature. Hawthorne never gives you reason to be sure any of it is real. And I love that. I love it so much. (5 stars)
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