One favorite classic. One. A single book that defines what I think is a classic and which classic defines me as a reader. Hummmm....
My first inclination is to not play by the rules. Why not list a dozen, 7, heck, my top three? I'll behave myself and list my favorite classic. I've really had to mull this over for several days, because I realized my favorite classic isn't really my favorite. Normally I tell folks that The Count of Monte Cristo is my favorite. But that is only a half-truth. I've read the book twice and I will say I love the fast-paced drama of the book and the dark, brooding Byronic nature of Edmund Dantes...but, well the last 200 pages kinda falls apart. Everything begins to be neatly resolved, Edmund is repentant, and then there is the odd relationship between himself and his slave girl / princess that I don't quite understand.
Hummmm... obviously I need to define my criteria for a favorite classic.
- The prose is beautifully written and constructed
- The characters have depth, life, and are believable
- The book reflects real life; meaning that there is humor, pathos, family, conflict, joy, death, hope, etc....
- I find myself longing to read it and thinking about out it randomly long after it has been read.
Intricately plotted with mystery, murder, poverty, secrets, love, humor... everything. And wrapped up in some of the most beautiful writing I've ever encountered:
"One disagreeable result of whispering is that it seems to evoke an atmosphere of silence, haunted by the ghosts of sound-strange cracks and tickings, the rustling of garments that have no substance in them, and the tread of dreadful feet that would leave no mark on the sea-sand or the winter snow."
“Fog everywhere. Fog up the river where it flows among green airs and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping, and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city.... Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon and hanging in the misty clouds.”
“... Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets, as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes — gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another’s umbrellas, in a general infection of ill-temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if the day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.”Love it. Every stinking word. Bleak House it is, my most favorite, treasured classic.