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 tag “henry james”

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.

Once a cad, always a cad

So ‘To the Lighthouse’ will sit on the bedside table for a while. I feel I need to lock myself up in a quiet room to read it. Virginia’s prose requires complete and utter concentration. I just don’t have that right now. It’s timing. I promise to come back to it.

So with Virginia on hold indefinitely I decided to give Henry James another attempt to woo me. He did so did so badly with Portrait of  a Lady, I thought I’d give him a chance for redemption. I’m a sucker like that.

I’ ve tried to read Cold Mountain by Charles Fraizer 15 times. Every time I would get stuck just a third  of the way in. I simply lose the will to the turn the page. I’m a bit like that with men. Every cad has his chance with me and sadly Henry is turning into one of them with his offering Wings of the Dove.

Look at those eyes, they feel as though they could look right inside your soul. Almost creepy. Shame his writing isn’t doing that. In fact I’m finding I’m Just Not Into Him.

Sorry Henry. I tried. I’ll keep reading because it’s only fair but rest assured this time it’s definitely you, not me.



Dear Henry

I thought reading Lolita was tortuous. There are worse things. To read ‘portrait of a lady’ by Henry James..

Most of my friends would probably laugh at this, I’m the last one to lay claim to being a lady so a book dedicated to being one was always going to be a stretch.

The thing was the blurb started out so promising. I would love to have a stern word with the blurb writers at penguin.

Which described it as ‘ a tale of an independent woman whose main ambition in life is to preserve her independence and embarks on travels to broaden her mind and views. She fails to be ensnared by the trappings of marriage until she meets an American in Italy who catches her attention.’

And it stops there. What it should really say is:
” naively innocent young woman travels to England and finds herself made wealthy by a family member. Spends far too long introvertly analysing her behaviour, morals and the people around her. She is obsessed with doing the right thing, even to the sacrifice of her own happiness. She turns down proposals from two good men who love, admire and appreciate her independence and don’t care a bit about her wealth. She instead finds herself married to a man who traps her like a bird in a cage. Like an artifact he has collected, and if that’s not bad enough, he appears to have married her for her money and convenience while being involved with one of the very friends who introduced them.”

Basically a case of a nice girl going for the wrong guy, the bad guy instead of the ‘nice guy.’

It sounds gripping, a bit like melrose place in morning suits type of book but actually it’s just plain depressing. She lives her life-like a character in a book, not fully embracing it and the fact she just throws her independence away so early in the book just baffles the mind.

And when old suitors come back to woo her and also woo her step daughter, it’s even more disorienting.

Henry has the ability to over analyse and completely deconstruct a scene, until it’s no longer enjoyable. He directly addresses the reader throughout which makes it plain uncomfortable and I suffered throughout trying to finish it.

Thank god it wasn’t the done thing to describe sex scenes back in day. I can only imagine how he would labour over of every lump, bump and hair. It would be enough to put anyone of their breakfast or the act for a long time.

Or at least until dinner time anyways. So it’s with this in mind I’d like to send a note to mr James.

Dear Henry

We are over. I don’t want to read another word from you again. I now know that anyone who praises your work must be a prat, a twat or at the very least boring from the inside out.

Just because you are on the top 100 classic list does not mean you are a good read.

Yours unfaithfully

Hiding from Henry…

I’m finding Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady hard going, a few thoughts on his style so far..

H-arasses every detail
E-ven the beating of a moth’s wings is un-missed
N-ever ending words
R-enders the eyes and brain tired
Y-earning for the end

J-uxpostion of characters
A-rbitrarily ambiguous
M-angled text damaged by psychological analysis
E-nding easy to see (at this point anyway)
S-ocial custom and commentary obsessed

lets hope it improves with the pages.. simply put its about a headstrong, independent American woman who lands in England to pursue her destiny and has to keep her wits on guard against wily Englishmen.

Quite similar to time my time overseas to be honest, exchanging the American part for Australian :p

The only part I’m really enjoying right now is the cross dissection of english culture and the lead character, Isabel’s headstrong nature.

One of the top lines so far:

“The Husband of the elder (sister), Lord Haycock was a very good fellow but unfortunately a horrid tory and his wife, like all good English wives, was worse than her husband.”

…ouch! more scathing wit from Isabel to come I hope!




Hello mr james…

The next book underway..

let the classification begin…

I may have just set myself a challenge that is a bit beyond me. It requires endurance, patience and persistence.

A marathon of sorts, not for the body but for the mind. The question is just how many classics can one person read in a row before turning mad? Before they start believing that Mr Darcy lurks around every corner and sees elements of Gatsby in every person they meet?

Well I’m not sure, but considering I do this already I may be lost before I’ve already begun.

You see I’ve always been a self-confessed book nerd with a voracious appetite. Always looking for my next hit, something that I can shoot into my veins to stir the heart, emotions and mind.

There is no greater thrill or rush better than discovering a truly orgasmic book for the first time. You long to savour the story and characters but also want to rush to the conclusion.

But when you turn that final page, nothing but bittersweet regret lingers, you’ll never read that book for the first time again. And so begins the search for another and another.

It can become an overwhelming addiction, I can assure you. So I suppose to tame the beast and also nourish the writer I’m trying so hard to grow within, I have decided to jump into the 20th century era classics and read the crème de la crème of them. The top 100 classics from top to tail in 365 days. No skipping, no reading forwards or movie adaptations, introductions in advance and definitely no reading notes. Solemnly absorbing them one by one.

Don’t worry you won’t be reading blog after blog of analytical reviews of the books, just some witty (where possible) insights into how relevant these classics are to us today and just what a wayward writer and aspiring author can hope to learn from them.

So despite the risk of falling into classic madness which I fear I already suffer, at the very least a classic obsession, I will begin.



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