Tagged: classics

Welsh Valley

Classics Club Book #7: How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

O, there is lovely to feel a book, a good book, firm in the hand, for its fatness holds rich promise, and you are hot inside to think of good hours to come. How Green Was My Valley is a gem of a novel. It took me a while to warm up to it, since it doesn’t really have a focused plot, but instead is a coming-of-age story that unfolds the way life does. It’s the story of a coal mining community in South Wales as told through the...

Classics Club Book #6: Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell

Because I graduated from high school in 1984, I’ve always had a connection with both the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell and the rock album 1984 by Van Halen. Over the years, the former has grown in my estimation and the latter has declined. The album by Van Halen is something you outgrow. The novel by Orwell is something that grows with you. I put Nineteen Eighty-four on my Classics Club list because I knew my daughter would be reading it in her senior high school literature class,...

The Bridge of San Luis Rey

Classics Book Club #4: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

“Why did this happen to those five?” If there were any plan in the universe at all, if there were any pattern in a human life, surely it could be discovered mysteriously latent in those lives so suddenly cut off. Either we live by accident and die by accident, or we live by plan and die by plan. I’ve had The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder on my to-read list for probably twenty years. I had vaguely heard of it growing up, but it really...

Lord of the World

Classics Club Book #3: Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson

The two Cities of Augustine lay for him to choose. The one was that of a world self-originated, self-organised, and self-sufficient, interpreted by such men as Marx and Hervé, socialists, materialists, and, in the end, hedonists, summed up at last in Felsenburgh. The other lay displayed in the sight he saw before him, telling of a Creator and of a creation, of a Divine purpose, a redemption, and a world transcendent and eternal from which all sprang and to which all moved. Before Fahrenheit 451, before Nineteen Eighty-four,...

The House on the Borderland

Classics Club Book #2: The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson

The House on the Borderland is an eerie novel that ultimately leaves many questions unanswered. Written in 1908, it is often cited as an influence on writers like H.P. Lovecraft and Terry Pratchett, and it is listed in Fantasy: The 100 Best Books, edited by James Cawthorn and Michael Moorcock. It also becomes my second finished book in the Classics Club Challenge. I really wanted this book to be good. The beginning starts off promising: two men on a fishing holiday in a remote part of Ireland discover...

The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni

Classics Club Book #1: The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni

Strange to say, although in times of immediate danger, in face of an enemy, the image of death always breathed new spirit into him and filled him with angry courage, the same image appearing to him in the silence of the night, in the safety of his own castle, afflicted him with sudden dismay. For this time it was not death at the hands of a mortal like himself that threatened him; not a death that could be driven off by better weapons or a quicker hand. It...

Classic Books

50 Classic Books in 5 Years for My 50th Birthday

Since today is my 50th birthday, I thought I would start my next 50 years off right by joining the Classics Club and committing to read 50 classic novels by October 25, 2021. The idea behind the club is to read at least 50 classic books within five years, and to blog about each one. My main purpose in this project is to read more books from my Summary of Great Books Lists and my Catholic Classics List. I’ve selected books from those two lists along with a...

The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi) by Alessandro Manzoni

Reading The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni

I’ve been enjoying The Betrothed in a mellow sort of way, the way one enjoys a beer or glass of wine. Rather than gulping it down, I’ve been taking it in small sips. It’s that kind of book. The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni is one of the books on my Catholic Classics Reading List. It appears in Fr. John Hardon’s Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan, in Harold Bloom’s The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages, and it is number 94 in Daniel Burt’s The Novel 100: A Ranking of...

First Sentence of Pride and Prejudice

200 Years of Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice was first published in January of 1813, and it remains one of the greatest novels ever written, appearing on seven of the thirteen “great books” lists I used to compile my personal summary of great books. In The Joy of Reading, Charles Van Doren describes the novel in this way: Pride and Prejudice was her first novel; she wrote a version of it before she was twenty. She put it aside to write Sense and Sensibility, her first work to be published; she then rewrote...

Charles Dickens

Time to Go to That There Burying-Ground: Dickens’ 200th Birthday

Ralph Fiennes reads a moving excerpt from Bleak House as Prince Charles lays a wreath of flowers on Dickens’ grave. Today the world remembers Charles Dickens, born on this day two hundred years ago. I have a great fondness for Dickens’s works, especially David Copperfield and Hard Times. One of Dickens’ particular qualities was the ability to make one laugh and shudder at the same time. As Chesterton says, “These two primary dispositions of Dickens, to make the flesh creep and to make the sides ache, were a...

With Fire and Sword

Review: With Fire and Sword An Historical Novel of Poland and Russia.

With Fire and Sword An Historical Novel of Poland and Russia. by Henryk Sienkiewicz My rating: 4 of 5 stars With Fire and Sword must be one of the greatest historical epics you’ve never heard of. Set in the 17th century, and told from the Polish point of view, it recounts a Cossack uprising against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The historical backdrop serves as a grand canvas for the portraits of courage, love, and spiritual devotion that form the heart of the story. In print, With Fire and Sword...

The Accolade

A Glimpse of Heaven Through Mythopoeic Literature

Having just finished Peter Kreeft’s book Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing, I find myself aching for the numinous: Have you ever felt it–the haunting of the world?…The haunting has been called the sense of the “numinous.”  It is the sense that the world we see is haunted by something we do not see, an unseen presence.” Kreeft goes on to discuss this haunting in the human face, romantic love, pictures, stories and music.  I think I have lost touch with the numinous in my daily life as practical...

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Top 10 Henry David Thoreau Quotes

I was looking at my commonplace book and was again struck by the eloquence of Henry David Thoreau. Here are some of my favorite Thoreau quotes, most of them from Walden: I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well. …to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and the future, which is precisely the present moment Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new. In short, I am convinced, both by faith...

Bibliomaniac

Possessed by Books

I’ve known some bibliomaniacs in my time, but Archdeacon Meadow has got to be one of the worst afflicted: Archdeacon Meadow accumulated so many books that he was forced to sell a considerable portion of his collection. But as their auction proceeded he experienced such passionate anguish that he left the room and returned again in disguise to begin bidding for his own books. –Otto L. Bettman, The Delights of Reading: Quotes, Notes and Anecdotes

Thornton Wilder

Is Purgatory Like a Novel?

What makes fiction so powerful and so poignant? Thornton Wilder sums it up in one of the most moving quotes I have ever read: If Queen Elizabeth or Frederick the Great or Ernest Hemingway were to read their biographies, they would exclaim, “Ah, my secret is still safe.” But if Natasha Rostov were to read War and Peace she would cry out as she covered her face with her hands: “How did he know, how did he know?” Is this what the pain of Purgatory might be like:...