Have You Read the Classics?

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

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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.

8 thoughts on “Have You Read the Classics?

  1. It is so fun to hear your opinion of the classics. I, too, did NOT like Wuthering Heights. Too dark. I haven’t read Scarlet Letter yet. After reading what you said, I just might have to. And Jane Eyre is one of my all time favorites!! I love how deeply the character thinks. She doesn’t just react to things, but rather thinks things through and bases her actions on what she know is right from the Bible. At least that is how I remember it. It was quite awhile since I read it. I may have to read it again! I hadn’t heard of the “Shirley” book. How fun!

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    • Thanks Janine for your comments. I knew you’d have opinions on these books, since I’ve heard you talk about reading them and also many George McDonald’s books. Many of those I’m sure are considered classics.Guess you’ll have to read “Shirley,” too.

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  2. HI SHIRL ..I CAN REMEMBER GOING TO THE DALLAS LBRARY WITH AND BURL WHEN WE WERE YOUNGER ..I WOULD ALWAYS GET THE NANCY DREW BOOKS ..I STILL LIKE MY MYESTERIES..READ A LOT..NOW I GO TO A BOK TRADER AND GET MY BOOKS..I DONT THINK I READ THE BOOKS YOU MENITION..THE SHIRL BOOK SOUNDS INTERESTING..LOVE YOU

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    • I love hearing your memories. I remember Nancy Drew mysteries and I believe they are still be published. Thanks for writing, I appreciate faithful followers of my blog and you are certainly one of them. Glad you’re still reading and playing organ.

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  3. I hope “Treasure Island” is a considered a classic, because it’s the first book I read as boy that got me hooked on reading! It took me to mysterious places and adventures that I never knew lie hidden in the mashed pulp between the hard covers of such novels.

    Most of the classics I read afterward were foisted upon me as yet another senseless requirement of getting through college. I was one of two Forestry majors in “Literature Appreciation” class. Literature appreciation for us, at that time, was watching Henry Fonda and Paul Newman as renegade loggers in “Never Give an Inch” at the the frat house! Now THAT’S a classic!

    I still have nightmares about one book, in particular–“Waiting for Godot”. I never actually read the book, but even as my cohort and I skimmed through the summary in “Cliffs Notes” we were overcome with a desire to perform a mercy killing on one another. The only thing that kept us going was a stubbord desire to out-wait Godot and see what all the hoopla was about!

    As I recall, I don’t recall a single thing about the story other than I still have no clue who Godot was…and I don’t care. There’s no sense in letting all that pain go to waste. They should translate such stories into Arabic and use it on enemy combatants in place of waterboarding.

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    • Hi Chuck: I laughed as I read your comment to shirlandyou. You are right about books taking you to mysterious places and adventures. And you are still doing that, only not just in your imagination. I think I’ll skip “Waiting For Godot.” Translating it into Arabic and using it as an enemy combatant is truly using your imagination. Thanks for the laugh. I appreciate your comments.

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  4. I haven’t tried a Kindle yet and I’m not sure I will. Books can be heavy, cumbersome and awkward to carry and inconvenient at times. But, there is something about Books that I find irresistible. A new book has that fresh, new ink smell and old books carry a scent of dust and age and knowledge. In this world of convenience, technology and electronics, which I greatly admire and participate in on a daily basis, I have resisted (so far) to join the Kindle Klan. Oh… I have Bible Explorer on my desktops and laptops, which include several translations of the Bible and about 50 other reference books and commentaries on it, and I use it often when writing email or posting on FB. It sure beats typing whatever it is I’m referring to. But, when it comes down to Bible Study I prefer “Hands-On” studying. I have an extensive Bible Reference Books and Commentary Collection and I believe, around 35 different Study Bibles with different translations and commentaries. One opened book piled on top of the other on my desk in what appears to be a messy disarray, gives me a smile and the satisfaction of a Job Well Done. =o)

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    • I can’t help but agree with you, Billy. I’m glad to hear what you think, because how sad it would be if the real thing disappeared from book shelves. Please comment again, I love hearing from you.

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