romancingtheclassics

One girl's journey to read the top 100 literature classics of all time in the space of 365 days, a quest for only the most foolhardy and brave

Archive for the category “gatsby”

Home james….

Oh henry james, I just want to go home.. The Wings of The Dove is tortuous.. I’m still going but came across some really well put literature quotes I thought I’d share.

“Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.”
Jane Yolen, Touch Magic
 
“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”
Charles Dickens
 
“The man who does not read books has no advantage over the man who can not read them.”
Mark Twain (1835-1910) U.S. humorist, writer, and lecturer.
 
“Books are the carriers of civilisation. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.”
– Barbara W. Tuchman
 
oh and how I can relate to this one. Hemingway I’ll always be your groupie.
 
“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse, and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.”
Ernest Hemingway (1898-1961) American Writer.
 
x
J
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italian vistas & prose perfection

No sooner have I finished the last, before I’m on to the next…

I must admit I have attempted E.M. Forster’s Room with a View before, but never finished it. This time I’ve jumped in with a renewed appreciation for differing narrative styles. So far I’m really enjoying the way he is conveying Lucy’s naiveté and innocence.

Thought I’d share a quote from him I found in the opening page.  Humble to a fault and I think he puts it well  when it comes to the core of why writers write.

x

J

Which classic character gets you hot under the collar?

While pondering my shamless Hemingway groupie/crush fantasy I couldn’t help but think about some of the literary heart throbs which have crossed the pages I’ve read and that I’m about to read over the next couple of months.

If you could choose one literary heart throb to leap from the pages to save you, which one would it be?

a) Mr Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) – the moody one but still waters run deep

b) Mr Jay Gatsby (The Great Gatsby) – the rich one with emotional baggage and prone to loneliness

c) Mr George Knightley (Emma) – the male best friend secretly in love with the lead female and waiting in the wings

d) Hamlet (Hamlet) – the dark and troubled one with family issues

e) Heathcliffe (Wuthering Heights) – the bad boy who can bring out the worst in the lead character

f) Romeo (Romeo and Juliet) – the passionate lover who every girl family loves to hate

Personally when it comes to Authors, Hemingway is my man but when it comes to literature heart throbs I don’t think you can’t really go past Mr Darcy.

Be interested to hear what others think 🙂

x

J

Running with bulls page by page..

Pamplona. Bull running. San Fermin festival. All through the eyes of Hemingway.

I couldn’t imagine anything better. Especially considering I have been to the very festival and places described in The Sun Also Rises.

It felt as though I was walking hand in hand with the man himself as he traversed the seedy underbelly of cafe life and jazz bars in Paris, the Pyrenees and then Pamplona with his affluent group of friends.

Whether its describing the bulls being unloaded from the corals, sparing with bull fighters, fly fishing in the Spanish countryside or drinking himself silly in Paris’s Montmartre quarter, Hemingway somehow makes everything sound autobiographical.

Of all the authors who I’ve come to meet on this epic literature journey, Hemingway has been the most honest. The most unashamedly real. Making his novels completely relatable.

Whether it’s matter of factly describing an anecdote or interchange between men and women, or probing into the lead characters own flaws, he somehow effortlessly makes you feel you are there in the room. As much a part of the story as the wine and gin they drink.

The simplicity of the prose is deceptive. This is a man who believes less is more and makes the smallest sentence deliver the biggest punch.

The story centers around Jake Barnes—a man whose war wound has made him impotent—and the promiscuous divorcée Lady Brett Ashley. Rather than choose a lead female who is either an old nag or an eligible young woman looking for marriage, Hemingway decides upon a vivacious divorcee who is experiencing sexual liberation and independence in post war Paris and not shy in making the most of it. She is not two-dimensional, but five or even six dimensional. Hemingway paints her in so many ways you aren’t sure at any one time if you like her, loathe or are inspired by her.

Yet again, like so many books in this top 100 list, the plot revolves around those with money and the misery they find themselves swimming in as they struggle to make their hopeless and vain existence meaningful.

Brett who even has a male name, embodies the modern woman, leaving broken men in her wake, including Jake who can never consummate his love with her. There is a sense of irony in this, that as one woman finally secures the freedom and power she craves and the men in her life become weaker.

In fact, Brett may be the first cougar to be put into writing. She captures the ardour of a 19-year-old spanish bull fighter in the middle of the festival and romances him into her bed. An impressive feat for any woman. But a divorcee in the 1920’s? I tip my hat to you dear lady..

In the end, what is left is a book with dominated by cougars, bullfighting, sangria, love triangles and debauchery. Could there be a more winning combination?

I doubt it, unless of course Hemingway was to read the story aloud to me himself. That will just have to be relegated to my day dreams. I girl can hope can’t she?

xx

what I meant to say was…

So it seems to me that when it comes to insulting people and describing people unfavourably, no one does it better than a classic lit book.

Cleverly veiled barbs and hooks are weaved in the prose, designed to sting and take the wind out of any character’s sails.

So I thought it might be interesting to translate these insults into modern language just for the fun of it… after all it an insult in any era is enjoyable :p

She was a woman of high fashion –
What they meant to say : she’s a vain, materialistic cow

She had a great deal of manners which classed her as the most affected of women-
What they meant to say: She’s a boring snob

He was what she would describe as provincial
What they meant to say: He isn’t worth a second glance and is beneath me

She was a woman with a high, free spirit and was very engaging. She was often indelicate in her behaviour with men-
What they meant to say: She’s a dirty tramp/slut/whore

He had a pleasant countenance and unaffected manner-
What they meant to say: He’s alright

She is tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt me-
What they meant to say: She’s a feral and no one in their right mind would be interested

She had very cordial feelings toward him-
What they meant to say: She was fantasizing about marriage and the names of their babies

His sisters had the air of decided fashion –
What they meant to say: They were snobs who thought they looked better than they actually did

She was a woman of mean understanding, little information and an uncertain temper-
What they meant to say: She was not the sharpest tool in the shed

She had charming, happy manners –
What they meant to say: She didn’t throw herself at men like the rest of her trampy friends

She was headstrong and spirited –
What they meant to say: She never did what she was told and enjoyed a good roll in the hay

He had a most ungentlemanly disposition –
What they meant to say: He was a chauvinist pig

She boasted neither cleverness nor beauty –
What they meant to say: She is a butt ugly idiot

She was fond of society –
What they meant to say: She liked to hob nob and lived to kiss ass

He was fond of his own society –
What they meant to say: He was a loner and  was most likely into midget porn with the potential to be a serial killer

She had a wilful nature –
What they meant to say: She never did what daddy told her to do

and the best til last…

He was too proud for even his own company –
What they meant to say: He had his head up his ass so far he couldn’t see straight

xx
J

Classics 101

It’s quite hard to resist temptation at the moment.

Everyone struggles with it. The chocolate bar at the till that literally leaps into your hand bag without a second thought or it’s the new pair of red shoes you bought because they were on sale but you didn’t really need. Or it could be the coworker who is making u think about swapping monogamy for infidelity.

And right now I’m trying very hard to be good. But I really want some candy. Book candy that is.

You know when you read a really challenging, emotionally draining book and you just want to reach for the latest chic lit book for a bit of light relief? Right now I’m craving book fairy floss.

Anything fluffy will do. I just went and saw ‘my week with Marilyn’ and now all I want to do read re-read her autobiography all over again. But I’m trying to stay faithful to the classics.

Only them and nothing but the classics until I finish the top 100. It’s perhaps the closest I’ll get to being in a committed relationship with Mr Darcy.

I went to a book store on the weekend and practicality hovered near all the new chic lit books. Fingering the new Jane Green and Marian Keyes book and even considering a re-read of Sophie kinsella’s.  Any book candy hit would do.

I was like an addict cruising the book alleyways. Feverish and irrational. Avoiding eye contact with the literature section at all costs.

I stood strong. Yes Jane Green would be much more fun to dive into than Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘the beautiful and the damned,’ at the moment but I’m committed. I’m a one book kind of girl.

So for the sake of my sanity I’ve made a compromise. I can’t read candy but I can still look at it right? So now when u notice a slightly crazed looking woman in your shopping aisle quickly scanning the latest Who or Woman’s Weekly don’t judge. She might be in the middle of a book candy drought and after her latest fix.

It happens to the best of us
X
J

G is for Gatsby

Most people have read Fitzgerald. By that I mean F. Scott Fitzgerald, and in saying that, most know of or have read ‘The Great Gatsby’.

I had not. I had gleaned of what it was roughly about in highschool once, but it never was a book we studied or read.

Or most importantly one I sought out. It was however the first one I was drawn to when consulting my 100 list courtesy of The Modern Library.

I skipped the introduction and forward and jumped right in. With news that Leonardo DiCaprio is set to star as the mysterious Jay Gatsby himself and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway in a film adaptation of the book later this year I couldn’t help but picture their faces when following the story.

It’s an understatement to say I adored it. While focusing on troublesome times of an altogether different era, it holds its own even today.

Perhaps I’m in the throes of classic madness but I do see elements of Gatsby and Nick Carraway in everyone.

I’ve met many a Gatsby who has constructed a life around them that they think they want, that shows them in the best light, that allows them to forget and scrub away the stains of times past and begin a new.

Those who find themselves trapped in their own lies, lonely even in their own company and who seek untenable dreams that sometimes are best left as pleasant day dreams.

This is the plague of Gatsby and I doubt there is a single person who reads it who doesn’t identify with him to some extent or recognise their partners or friends or colleagues in him.

He’s surrounded by many but always alone and never, ever openly lets himself out.

What could possibly be worse? Well to be Nick Carraway of course. The perennial observer, an outsider always analysing and judging the lives of others including his own. A person who never really plays his part or lives his own life. He more or less watches his life being lived beside or in front of him. Always one step ahead or to the side and looking back, instead of revelling in the moment.

Oh I know a lot of Nick Carraways and when procrastination gets the better of me, I do can indulge in a few Carraway traits. Self loathing and analysis, distance from others and questioning what would be the ‘right thing to do’. Perhaps the one thing I took out of the book was, that it’s not so much about the right thing to do, but the doing of something that matters.

What perhaps fascinated me the most was I intended to read through this list from the perspective of a writer and prospective author, studying the prose and gaining insight into my style and how I portray the characters in my novel which is still stuck at infancy.

Instead I became completely absorbed in the characters, in the setting, in the polar opposites and at the same time, striking similarities between Nick and Gatsby and the emotional manipulations of Tom and Daisy Buchanan.

The only redeemable feature of both Daisy and Tom is their love of each other and ability to save their own skins. Perhaps this is an unfair judgement but they both come off in the end as remarkably cold-hearted.

The real key to this book is the characters. I completely became entrapped in trying to understand Gatsby and seek some insight and depth to Carraway.

If that’s one lesson I take away from the interminably talented Fitzgerald, it’s that if you make the reader fall in love with the character, they fall in love with the book.

Consider me suitably infatuated.

x
J

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