Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Back to the Classics Signup 2019

Back to the Classics is a challenge hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate to get us to finally read those classics. I'm signing up again, since this was one of the funnest challenges for me of the previous year. Full details of the challenge are here, but this is the list of categories for the new year and the books I've tentatively matched against them. It's an interesting new set of categories.

It's possible--even likely--I pull a switcheroo or two, but for now...

19th Century Classic

Henry James/The American

20th Century Classic

Hermann Broch/The Death of Virgil
-I had this on my list for this same category last year, but it got switched out

Classic by a female author

George Eliot/Scenes of Clerical Life

Classic in translation

Goethe/Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship. My translation is by Thomas Carlyle. Doubly classic!

Classic comedy

Henry Fielding/Tom Jones
-This was on my list for a reread last year, but that category got pre-empted by The Mystery of Edwin Drood. So it's back!

Classic tragedy

Edith Wharton/House of Mirth

Very Long Classic

Giovanni Boccaccio/The Decameron

Classic Novella

An early James Baldwin like Giovanni's Room is short enough, or maybe Djuna Barnes' Nightwood. But I do think 250 pages is a novella only if you're a Russian. For the rest of us, that's a full length novel...

Classic from the Americas (including Caribbean)

Malcolm Lowry/Under The Volcano
-Written in the US, Canada, and Mexico, I believe. With some final editing in the Caribbean according to Wikipedia.

Classic from Asia, Africa, or Oceania

I'm thinking Naguib Mahfouz here, though I've also got a couple of early Ngugi wa Thiong'o novels from when he was still James Ngugi.

Classic from a Place You've Lived

Chicago or Toronto? Probably Chicago. The better Toronto novels are mostly too new. I've been wanting to reread James Farrell's Studs Lonigan (which could also count as tragedy...) or maybe I'll be bold and read his even longer Danny O'Neill series, which I own and haven't read.

Classic Play

George Bernard Shaw/Pygmalion

Thanks to Karen for hosting!


  1. I definitely see your point about the length of a novella -- I wanted to be a little flexible with the page length for novellas, sometimes different editions have different type sizes and fonts to make them look longer (I have a copy of Up at the Villa by Maugham with HUGE margins!). But I agree, 250 pages is pretty close to a novel.

    And you have such a great range of books on your list! I was also thinking about Mahfouz, I've always wanted to read Palace Walk. I might read a Chicago novel also, I was thinking about Sister Carrie. Thanks for signing up for the challenge!

  2. I've got a volume of Russian "short stories" where the shortest is a hundred pages. You have to draw the lines somewhere--I was just being amusing...or difficult.

    I really liked the Cairo Trilogy and immediately went out and bought some others, which I haven't yet read. Sister Carrie is great, it's been a while since I've read that, hmmm...

  3. I think you'll absolutely love The House of Mirth. It's certainly one of my favourites; Wharton did a superb job in developing the main character. I'm going to really, really try to fit in Tom Jones because .... well, you convinced me! :-) I can't wait! Have fun with your list and happy reading!

  4. I've liked all the other Wharton I've read & I'm looking forward to this. And happy reading to you!

  5. Tom Jones is fun! You have a very ambitious list, I think, what with the Decameron and Goethe. The only time I ever tried to read Carlyle, I could barely make sense of the sentences and decided I didn't need to read Carlyle that badly.

    1. The Decameron is long and I tried once before & didn't make it. That's probably the one that scares me the most.

      I've come to like Carlyle, but he is a bit over the top. I've read Sartor Resartus a few times now. (And French Revolution once.)

  6. Great choices. I've read a couple of these. I'll be interested in your reviews.

    1. Thanks! Mostly they'll be new to me, except Tom Jones & maybe Studs Lonigan. Need to knock down that TBR pile!

  7. Well, Decameron is my favourite book, and Tom Jones my favourite novel in English, so I hope you like them!

    1. I do love Tom Jones; I can always read it again was my thought. The Decameron I've found tricky in the past.