maanantai 22. helmikuuta 2016

Ageless Classical Novels

Winner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize, The Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton’s masterful portrait of desire and betrayal during the sumptuous Golden Age of Old New York, a time when society people “dreaded scandal more than disease.”
This is Newland Archer’s world as he prepares to marry the beautiful but conventional May Welland. But when the mysterious Countess Ellen Olenska returns to New York after a disastrous marriage, Archer falls deeply in love with her. Torn between duty and passion, Archer struggles to make a decision that will either courageously define his life—or mercilessly destroy it.

I read Age of Innocence first when I was in High School. While I was fascinated by the novel and the language, I couldn’t understand the choices the people made. Why they didn’t just do what they wanted? Why they were such slaves of convention, society and public opinion? Why did Archer marry May when he was in love with Ellen? Why didn’t Ellen just divorce her horrible husband? Why everything had to be so difficult?

I read the book again, over twenty years later, and I can see the subtle critique and loving fondness to the gilded New York and social conventions. I can also see the good in those conventions.

I don’t agree with married couples not communicating and just understanding what other is thinking. As we can see in the book, it lead to many confusions. And finally Archer didn’t even know who really knew his heart, May, before she was already dead.

In my opinion we will never see a perfect world, before Heaven. But I think that perfect world will have the quality of making sacrifices and knowing to wait and do what is right that Archer possess in the book.

Not everyone in New York is as good. Not everyone in Europe is corrupted. But there is goodness in Archer, as Ellen can see, and she is right to love that goodness. And to run away from the man.

More classical novels to enjoy: 

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

This is the supreme novel of the married woman's passion for a younger man. I read Anna Karenina for the first time in High School and then later on when I was pregnant of my son. The way I saw the characters and the tragedy of Anna's life changed completely.

Leo Tolstoy’s classic story of doomed love is one of the most admired novels in world literature. Generations of readers have been enthralled by his magnificent heroine, the unhappily married Anna Karenina, and her tragic affair with dashing Count Vronsky.

In their world frivolous liaisons are commonplace, but Anna and Vronsky’s consuming passion makes them a target for scorn and leads to Anna’s increasing isolation. The heartbreaking trajectory of their relationship contrasts sharply with the colorful swirl of friends and family members who surround them, especially the newlyweds Kitty and Levin, who forge a touching bond as they struggle to make a life together. Anna Karenina is a masterpiece not only because of the unforgettable woman at its core and the stark drama of her fate, but also because it explores and illuminates the deepest questions about how to live a fulfilled life.

Emma by Jane Austen

Near impossible choice between this and Pride and Prejudice. But Emma never fails to fascinate and annoy. Who hasn't done the facepalm (even in secret) when reading about the mix up Emma manages to create in everyone's lives. And then sighed in happiness when her hero finally confesses his love to her.

'I never have been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall.'

Beautiful, clever, rich - and single - Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen's most flawless work. 

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

A revenge thriller set in France after Bonaparte: a masterpiece of adventure writing. I was infatuated with the book (and the hero of it) when I first read it in High School. After it I have read The Count of Monte Cristo various times and in different languages, and enjoyed it every time as much.

'On what slender threads do life and fortune hang'

Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantès is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas' epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialised in the 1840s.


David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

This highly autobiographical novel is the one its author liked best. It is also my favorite from Charles Dickens.
David Copperfield is the story of a young man’s adventures on his journey from an unhappy & impoverished childhood to the discovery of his vocation as a successful novelist. Among the gloriously vivid cast of characters he encounters are his tyrannical stepfather, Mr Murdstone; his formidable aunt, Betsey Trotwood; the eternally humble yet treacherous Uriah Heep; frivolous, enchanting Dora; & the magnificently impecunious Micawber, one of literature’s great comic creations.
In David Copperfield—the novel he described as his “favorite child”—Dickens drew revealingly on his own experiences to create one of his most exuberant & enduringly popular works, filled with tragedy & comedy in equal measure.

10 kommenttia:

  1. Thanks for highlighting these classics! I'm reading a book called Dear Mr. Knightly right now that has tons of quotations from all these books you wrote about. Thanks for participating in the #LMMLinkup.

    1. Thank you for your visit and comment! These five are one of my favorite classical novels. And I think anyone will enjoy to read them

  2. Thank you for reminding me of these great novels. Some I have read and loved and some I need to read (and surely) WILL love!.
    Have not been to visit you in a long while. Glad you are my neighbor at Tina's today.

    1. I'm so glad to see you also. I was taking time off from blogging because of everything that was happening with my family, work and life in general. But it is good to be among friends again.

  3. Great selection! The Count of Monte Cristo has to be my favorite. Anna Karenina is a close 2nd. Thanks for sharing. I love reading the classics.

    1. Thank you for the visit and comment! I agree, The Count of Monte Cristo is my favorite also. There is something special about classics that just makes them enjoyable to read again and again.

  4. Love this list. It truly contains several of my all-time favorite reads. Thanks so much for reminding me why I love them.

    1. Thank you for your visit and comment! I'm always glad to remind people why they love books :)

  5. I loved reading how your perception of these books has changed as you have matured. That is the wonder of a great book! Thanks so much for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday!

    1. Thank you for your comment and visit, Tina! Yes, a good book is always current and always has something important to say to us. And we are always able to relate to it and find something new about it.