The above question was put to me, when I was recently given an amazonkindle. “Well,” I thought, “there are hundreds of classics.” ” Where do I start?” My Kindle came with five classics, giving me a good place to begin. A classic by the way, is a book that has stood and can stand the test of time and remains popular and pertinent. To digress somewhat, I do like using the Kindle. It is light and easy to take anywhere and it knows where previous reading ended, always starting the reader in the right place. I do miss seeing how much further I must read to get to a chapter’s end or how many pages I must read to finish the book.
Getting back to the classics, I began with Emily Brontë’s, “Wuthering
Heights,” later I would read her sister, Charlotte’s, “Jane Eyre.” I did not like “Wuthering Heights.” It is a dark tale, gloomy and violent. Some describe it as touching our very core of beings through its story of love, hate and death. I thought the characters’ lack of faith in God was responsible for much of the gloominess of the book.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Scarlet Letter,” the reader is taken back to 17th century Puritan Boston, during the years 1642 -1649. It’s the story of Hester Prynne, a woman who wore a scarlet letter on her breast so everyone would be reminded of her sin, that of having borne an illegitimate daughter. She was labeled “comrade in lust.” As time went by there was a softening of some people’s hearts and the father of the child, who had remained in secrecy, made himself known. (I hoped for a good ending. After all these years, could they leave the city on a ship and live happily ever after?) The story took a fateful twist, just as life itself often does, and it ends with Hester returning to a life of loneliness in the tiny, tumbled down, cottage where she had raised her daughter. There’s much more to this story and its destructive power of guilt. Though it didn’t end as I had hoped, I liked this one.
Having read many books by Christian authors and publishers, I’ve come to believe a good book can influence readers’ thinking for good. As I read “Jane Eyre,” the author’s Christianity, and moral character, came shining through. The following are a few quotes from the book:
“Yet it would be your duty to bear it, if you could not avoid it: it is weak and silly to say you cannot bear what is your fate-to-be required to bear.”
“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”
“Good fortune opens the hand as well as the heart wonderfully and to give somewhat when we have largely received.”
“Our honeymoon will shine over life long. It’s beams will only fade over your grave or mine.”
I will not tell you much more about the story of “Jane Eyre.” Certainly I will not give away the ending, mainly because I haven’t gotten there yet! I can not tell you how many more pages I have to read to get to the end, but my Kindle says I’m at chapter 25 and I’ve read 31 percent of its entirety. Of this I’m sure, I like the book and I have learned from the internet that it is 38 chapters long and has at least 400 pages.
The history of “Jane Eyre” is interesting and if you haven’t already read it, a few facts about it may perk your interest. At the time it was published it was controversial, some called it “merely moral” and “unfeminine.” For someone who had not shown interest in classics before, I’m already considering my next one. It’s Charlotte Brontë’s “Shirley.” It’s said that the book’s popularity led to “Shirley” becoming a woman’s name, previously it was a man’s. It has a historical theme of industrial unrest and role of women in society.- I’ve got to read it.
It’s important to choose carefully what you read. You can’t go wrong with the greatest classic of all, God’s Word, The Holy Bible.