Classic novels with my casual commentary

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Almost all of these books are very well known and widely reviewed; just chuck a google to know more about them. Here are my unstructured, unfiltered thoughts on a few classics…

  • Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Saved this book from the trash as my eight grade teacher was throwing it out (due to its dilapidated state I presume, and not because of a hatred of Charles Dickens). Pip is annoying, Estella is cold yet likeable, nobody lives up to their expectations, but there’s hope for Pip and Estella’s relationship at the end (after Estella undergoes domestic violence for like a decade to make her empathetic to Pip’s situation, of course)

  • Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

Apparently the attractive, charming, interesting people aren’t always the best, you gotta go for someone older and more sensible with ~~life experience~~.

  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Everyone in this novel is great, just read it. Well not everyone, but at least the end relationships are good.

  • Mansfield Park – Jane Austen

Austen’s least popular novel; this was written just after Pride and Prejudice; Fanny, the heroine, is a stark opposite to Lizzy Bennet. She’s timid, shy and extremely moral – she places a large emphasis on what’s ‘right’ and becomes the moral centre of Mansfield Park. Although the whole religiously correct approach isn’t my thing, she grows on you as the novel progresses, and although Fanny adheres to a higher moral ground the rest of the characters fail to, thus making for a plotline laden with adultery, scheming and sex. Also all of the characters in Mansfield Park are well developed and not just thrown in as fillers, unlike those in some of Austen’s other novels (i.e. Margaret in Sense and Sensibility, Kitty/Catherine and Mary in Pride and Prejudice).

I think it’s one of her best, definitely my favourite after Pride and Prejudice.

  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Another book I read in grade eight – my current feelings on it remain mostly unchanged since then.

I don’t know why Charlotte Bronte was always throwing shade at Jane Austen; her writing isn’t half as good as Austen’s. Bronte claims that Austen fails to use enough descriptive language regarding scenery; however Bronte herself uses so much that it actually detracts from the novel.

Anyway, Jane Eyre (the character) is a hardened, less loveable version of Fanny from Mansfield Park. Mr Rochester is twice Jane’s age and ugly. Yes looks aren’t everything, but his personality is lacking too; he’s rude, violent, abrupt and decidedly un-charming. Also he keeps his current wife locked in the attic. Bertha, his ‘crazy’ wife, is probably the sanest character in the book and is by far my favourite. Mr Rochester tries to pass her off as mentally ill, but judging by his character, she’s probably suffering from battered wife syndrome… Read the book for her

  • Lolita – Vladimir Narbakov

Read this as a psychological exploration rather than a creepy paedophilic story; the impact of childhood trauma on a man’s psyche, causing him to be stilted in regards to his attractions, and his resulting sexual and emotional abuse of a teenage girl which robs her of her childhood and causes her to enter another paedophilic relationship and eventually an unstable marriage.

  • Animal Farm – George Orwell

Commentary on government and power structures which continues to ring true today. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

  • When we were orphans – Kazuo Isiguro

Not a classic, but nonetheless an interesting crime novel.

Soon to be read…

  • Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  • The Age of Innocence – Edith Warton
  • Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
  • 1984 – George Owell

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2 thoughts on “Classic novels with my casual commentary

  • Lolita and 1984 are amongst my favourite books. Other recommendations from me are, ‘The Virgin Suicides’ by Jeffrey Eugenides and ‘The Magic Toyshop’ by Angela Carter. They’re both modern classics and soooo good.

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