Tag Archives: Classic Literature

The Classics Circuit: A Tale of Two Orphans (Austen vs. Dickens)

Welcome to one of my favorite Classics Circuits themes ever. This May we are spotlighting two dueling authors who both are considered to be among the greatest authors of all time. Our first journey is into the world of childhood and the streets of London with Charles Dickens. Secondly we will journey to Mansfield Park for a tale of an adult “orphan” living with relatives in the upper classes of English society with the incomparable Jane Austen. So here we go Austen vs. Dickens:

Oliver Twist is probably one of the most quoted classics of all time. Almost anyone whether they have seen a movie, read the book or not can easily quote Oliver’s famous line “Please, Sir, I want some more”. Published in 1838, the tale was originally told in a series of publications like many of Dickens works.

The dark and somewhat depressing tale of a young orphan on the streets at that time in history is full of abuse, child labor and other generally nefarious activities, criminal acts and threats to Oliver and his innocence.  Oliver is at heart and through and through a good child seeking love and contentment but the rough streets of London prove to be fatal to many like himself. Moving from poor house to workhouse and beyond, the reader is introduced to a cast of characters never to be forgotten.

In my opinion Dickens biggest strength was in his ability to describe detail especially in relation to his characters. They jump off the page in the flesh due to his talent with words and character traits of the smallest degree. Dickens prose is as always abundantly detailed as he describes every situation, setting and individual in a way only he can do. His sense of humor and talent truly shine most when he is describing a character. Many of the names of the characters in the book also relate to them as individuals as well such as Oliver’s name of “Twist” given to him by chance upon his birth and the quick death of his “anonymous” mother. The name of “Twist” refers back to all the twists and turns that Oliver’s story will take.

In the end as Dicken’s works go, Oliver Twist is one of the darker stories he has told. However it truly highlights the dangerous situation children faced during that time in history especially those without a parent to provide for and protect them.

    Written in 1814, Austen’s classic Mansfield Park is the story of a young girl taken in by wealthy relatives due to her family’s poverty. Fanny, one of nine children is sent to live with her Aunt and Uncle. While not the traditional orphan scenario, Fanny Price under goes much of the treatment of an orphan within the home of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram. Although Fanny grows up within the same household as her four cousins, she is never treated equally. However her cousin Edmund is her champion who always stands up for her and her place in the family. This eventually leads to Fanny falling in love with him and the ensuing love story written by Austen.

   Unlike Oliver Twist, Austen’s portrayal of Fanny remains mainly in her adulthood between the years of 18 and 19. Fanny is portrayed as shy and deeply sensitive. These qualities are easily manipulated in the home of the Bertrams by both the adults in the family and the children. The tale of Fanny and the question of where life will take her is an interesting portrayal that well illustrates the practice of “wardship” during that period of time.

Austen’s trademark sarcastic wit is abundant as are her mix-ups in love, courting and marriage. The book is well love by many with most only complaining of Fanny Price being too “good”.

Oddly enough no one has ever made that complaint about Oliver Twist. I am supposing that would be due to the fact that one is a child while another somewhat of an adult. However who wins out in the end?

And the verdict is….

In the end for myself personally I would have to say that Mansfield Park wins in this match up. In fact it was a beat down. Whether it is because I am a huge Austen fan or due to the relatively sinister nature of the novel Oliver Twist– there is no doubt which I would pick up again. In the end both books are definite true classics to be enjoyed. However a nice meeting place between these two novels would be Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte which deals with an orphan in both situations and as both a child and an adult. Be sure to check out the other participants in the Austen vs. Dickens tour.

What do you think? Which would win in your mind?


Filed under Adult Books, Classic Literature, Jane Austen

Welcome to the Classics Challenge 2011


Welcome to the Classics Challenge 2011 hosted by Stiletto Storytime

Choosing my reading challenges for the year is always one of my favorite things to do. This year I really wanted to incorporate a challenge into my classical reading tastes. I love classic literature. I love discovering those classics that have gotten away from me or re-reading my favorites. It’s been a love of mine for almost as long as I have been reading. In college I chose to study English Literature and then moved on to get my Master’s in Library Science so that I could share my love of classics with others. So in that spirit I have decided to host my very first challenge:

The Classics Challenge 2011

The challenge is simple: Read classic literature. It can be from any period or genre you choose. The only rule is that it must in some way be considered a classic. What is a classic you ask? A classic to me is a book that has in some way become bigger than itself. It’s become part of culture, society or the bigger picture. It’s the book you know about even if you have not read it. It’s the book you feel like you should have read.

There are four great levels in this challenge designed to suit any reading level and the main goal is to share classics you may or may not have known about otherwise. I encourage you to sign up below and add the challenge button to your blog. The Classics Challenge Page will also allow you to add your reviews as time goes by. Every few months I will post a wrap-up along with my own periodic reviews of the classics I am enjoying. And of course I will also be giving away prizes as the year progresses to those who participate. The challenge will run from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011. You can join at anytime. If you have a blog fantastic! If not then we still want you to read along with us. You can post reviews from any platform or just follow along and participate in comments.


Student: Read any 5 Classic Books

Bachelor’s Degree: Read any 10 Classic Books

Master’s Degree: Read any 20 Classic Books

P.H.D.: Read any 40 Classic Books

1. Courtney @ Stiletto Storytime 16. Rae Reads (Mesmeric Revelation) 31. Maria at To Read, Perchance to Dream
2. Katy @ A Few More Pages 17. Jessica @ Jessica’s Musings 32. Kris @Imaginary Reads
3. Laurel Ann (Austenprose) 18. Cristina @ Rochester Reader 33. Charla Wilson
4. Lee @ Butterfly Blessings 19. Okie 34. Linda
5. Julia – pagesofjulia 20. Michelle @ The True Book Addict 35. Kelly Lock @ Tea in a Teacup
6. Heather 21. Jaycie Smith 36. Tikabelle
7. Makenzie 22. Georgiane 37. K @ Baffled Books
8. Ricki @Reading Challenged 23. Tressa 38. Samantha @ Caught in the Pages
9. Aurora’s Creative Corner 24. Dara (Tales from the Writing Front) 39. Raychelle @ Steele Reviews
10. Melissa @ Jayne’s Books 25. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson) – pagesofjulia 40. Ruby a year of reading my books blog
11. Katya 26. Main Street (Sinclair Lewis) – pagesofjulia 41. K @ Baffled Books
12. Vidya 27. Darlene 42. Tressa
13. Cheryl @ Tales of the Marvelous 28. Frances 43. Rae @ Silence in the Library
14. Sarah 29. Maria 44. faith hope & cherrytea
15. Jaime Anastasiow 30. Mariah @ Living, Loving, Laughing, Reading 45. You’re next!



Filed under Book Blogs, Challenges, Classic Literature, Reading Challenge

The Classics Circuit: Christmas at Thompson Hall: A Tale by Anthony Trollope


Welcome to The Classics Circuit Tour for the prolific Anthony Trollope. In choosing my title to read for this tour I really tried to go for a book that is not as well known as some of Trollope’s most famous works. I also wanted to pay homage to the season since Trollope wrote many Christmas themed stories or “Christmas Numbers” as they were then known. Christmas at Thompson Hall: A Tale was one of such. Published in 1876 in The Graphic Christmas Number, this short tale is a humorous holiday story that truly does stand the test of time. However since it is a very short story (readable in about an hour or so). I don’t want to give away too much. Instead I would like to entice you to enjoy this holiday tale for yourself.

Mrs. Brown wants to spend the Christmas holidays with her family at her beloved Thompson Hall in England. Mr. Brown however does not. As they travel to their Christmas destination Mr. Brown becomes sick or so he claims. Staying in a hotel in Paris, Mrs. Brown is left to do all she can to relieve her husband’s sickness so that they can continue their travel. This begins a story of mistaken identity, marital relationships and humorous happenings that make the reader appreciate the time in which Trollope wrote the story while also being able to relate to the human psychology within. The Browns and their waging battle over their holiday destination is one that still happens to this day in multiple marriages and it rings true in such a genuine way. It translates even over a hundred years later, truly standing the test of time.While the humor is very true to the time period for which it was written, readers will enjoy it’s family friendly antics that can still produce a chuckle.

Sadly copies of this work are getting harder and harder to find. I was lucky enough to get a beautifully old copy from the local library filled with illustrations and authentic detail. However I could find no sign of this edition in my searches for this review. However readers wanting a short, lively Christmas themed story from the wonderful Anthony Trollope can read the story online complete with illustrations. Not the same as the real thing…but a wonderful tale not to be missed for any lover of Trollope.

Read Christmas at Thompson Hall: A Tale by Anthony Trollope online courtesy of Google Books.

Make sure to follow the Anthony Trollope Tour on The Classics Circuit which runs from Monday, December 6 to Friday, December 17.


Filed under Adult Books, Classic Literature