Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Favorite Classic: A Classics Club Meme


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. 
  1. The prose is beautifully written and constructed
  2. The characters have depth, life, and are believable
  3. The book reflects real life; meaning that there is humor, pathos, family, conflict, joy, death, hope, etc....
  4. I find myself longing to read it and thinking about out it randomly long after it has been read.
Okay, I know my favorite classic:


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. 

9 comments:

Jenna said...

Wonderful choice! I chose Jane Eyre, but Bleak House is definitely top five for me. I read it for my Charles Dickens literature course and fell in love with it and Dickens.

Susan said...

I have to read this. I loved the dvd so much I got it for Christmas. I like your criteria too, that it's something that you think about at odd times. I just finished North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, and I know I really enjoyed it. Another classic I enjoyed, I'm always relieved when that happens! I own Bleak House, and it is on my TBR list. Your quotations make me think it might be so long in the future. Thanks!

theclassicsclubblog said...

This is on my list and the more people even mention the book, the more excited I am to read it. -Sarah

Veronica said...

Bleak House was not on my Classic Club book list, but after reading your post and hearing what several other member have to say about it I have to add it!

Cat said...

I have this one on my CC list and looking forward to reading it especially after seeing it appear as several bloggers favourite.

Amanda said...

I swear you will all love Bleak House.

Lindsey Sparks said...

I couldn’t pick just one, but Bleak House made my list too. It’s just about perfect. It may be time for a reread.

Bex said...

I tried to read Bleak House back at the beginning of the year, because I live down the road from the house that was (apparently) Dickens' inspiration for the novel, but I didn't get very far with it. Dickens and I have a complicated relationship, and I will be giving it another go at some point!

Dragonfly Daydreams said...

I've read quite a bit of Dickens over the years, but not this one. Your's is about the tenth rave review in a short period of time...must be time to check it out for myself :-)