Tag Archives: Classical Literature

The Classics Circuit: An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

Hello fellow classic enthusiasts and welcome to The Lost Generation Tour held by The Classics Circuit. As soon as I received word of this tour I immediately knew which book I wanted to spotlight. It was a re-read for me but one of those books that I remember distinctly down to exactly when and where I was when I first devoured it and how long it took me to complete it (approximately a week). On my second reading I took my time and simply enjoyed the nuances and details I might have not have appreciated both as a reader at a younger age and as a first time reader of the book who simply could not get enough of it as fast as possible. The book is one of many on ALA’s List of Banned and Challenged Classics. It is the story of one young man and his insatiable thirst for social advancement and what some may consider the “rags to riches” American dream. The novel is the 1925 classic An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser.

This work has been called “the worst-written great novel in the world” while others consider it one of the greatest American novels of any time period. The novel is considered a work of naturalism: a literary style that explores the premise that individuals’ fates are determined by a combination of hereditary and environmental constraints that leave no room for free will or true individual choice. For that reason our main character Clyde Griffiths is considered to be somewhat of an anti-hero.

We begin in Clyde’s childhood on the city streets as part of a family missionary group barely surviving and shunning the world of material possessions and even the stability of modern education for a sidewalk sideshow religious lifestyle. Clyde even as a child rejects this lifestyle, seeing his parents as fools and longing for more. He wishes for everything he sees around him but beyond his grasp, he wishes for power, wealth, to be accepted, to be someone. He wants the American dream and is determined to do anything to get it….no matter the consequences.

The novel continues to follow Clyde through various jobs, shenanigans and lapses in moral judgement until a defining moment when Clyde does the unthinkable for the sake of his ambition. Is Clyde a bad human being or a product of his upbringing and the greed of American society at this time in history? Only you as the reader can truly make that judgement after completing the book but many readers have differing opinions or believe a little of both.

While I don’t want to spoil the book for readers who know nothing of the central premise or ending, I will say that Dreiser based the book on a very sensational murder case involving a young man named Chester Gilette who in 1906 murdered his pregnant girlfriend and later paid the ultimate price: his life.

In the case of An American Tragedy it’s not necessarily the writing that excels…more the truth of the story. The novel works and flows in a way that readers are carried along almost magically despite it’s rather long length. It is a true classic and a testament to the question of whether we choose our own fate…or it is chosen for us by the life we are given to live. Does it take a truly horrible person to commit a crime or are some people pushed to limits that they cannot handle due to their upbringing or what society has led them to believe is most important in life. In the end An American Tragedy gives readers an engrossing story and a debate to settle within themselves. It’s a classic often forgot but not to be missed.

Please remember to also check out The Classics Circuit’s other “Lost Generation” tour stops to find other great classics just waiting to be read.

 

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Filed under Adult Books, Banned Books, Blog Tour, Classic Literature, True Crime

Giveaway: Jane Eyre 2011 Prize Pack

Today is the day. Those of you who follow Stiletto Storytime know I am a devoted Janeite. I love Jane Austen. She is no doubt my favorite author. However I am also a devoted Janeite of a different type. My favorite novel of all time just happens to be Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. As I have said before Jane Eyre is like comfort food to me. It is my go-to book when I am under the weather or in need of a safe haven within the pages of a book. I read it multiple times a year and watch my favorite adaptations quite frequently. I feel almost as adamantly about my favorite Mr. Rochester (Ciaran Hinds) as I do about my favorite Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth). However one must wonder will that change as we usher in the newest Mr. Rochester?  Only time shall tell….

Taking all this into consideration you can imagine how excited I am about today being the release date for the latest Jane Eyre movie adaptation. This newest take on the classic from Focus Features hits select theatres today March 11, 2011. For show times, trailers, cast information and a fantastic trip sweepstakes you can go to the film’s website or visit their Facebook Page. There is also a JANE EYRE GoodReads Challenge afoot and a new Reading Guide from the 2011 Film.

Want an early review and sneak peek from a Bronte expert? Check out The Jane Austen Blog which is hosting author Syrie James with her review of the new film.

Prize Pack Giveaway

And now for some real Jane Eyre excitement. Thanks to Focus Features two Stiletto Storytime readers will be winning a fantastic Jane Eyre 2011 Prize Pack including: a Soundtrack Sampler, Book Mark, Journal, Pencil and a copy of the Movie Tie-In version of Jane Eyre.

Giveaway ends midnight EST March 25, 2011. US and Canada addresses only please. Winners will be chosen by random.org and notified by e-mail address. Winners have 48 hours to respond to e-mail before new winners will be chosen.

To enter simply leave a comment below and share an experience with Jane Eyre. Are you newbie, a devoted fan or just interested in getting in on the giveaway action?  Do you have a special memory for this book? When and where did you first experience it? If you have seen the new film please share your opinion. We would love to know what you thought. Really just share anything about you and the eternal classic that is Jane Eyre.

Want extra entries? No need to write a separate comment for each. Just list them all in one comment please to make it as simple as possible for everyone to enter.

You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower or Subscriber of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower Stiletto Storytime on Twitter

Sign up for The Classics Challenge 2011 (Those already signed up will be automatically entered.)

If you post a  review for The Classics Challenge 2011 by midnight March 25th, 2011 EST you will automatically be given 5 extra entries for each review posted by that date. Your reviews must be recent posts meaning posted since the challenge began in January 2011. Please read over the guidelines for The Classics Challenge for any lingering questions.

~Good Luck to all….Happy Reading and Watching! In my opinion you can never have too much Jane Eyre! ~

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50th Anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird

http://noveldestinations.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/monroeville-book-cover.jpg I was in elementary school the first time I read To Kill A Mockingbird. I was a child so enamored of reading that I took a list of books considered to be classics and began reading and never quite stopped. I had a reading level higher than my maturity at the time but I didn’t much care. I was hungry for words and that list was my menu. As I re-read many of those books later in school or in my own personal reading, I often picked up on things, imagery, symbolism or nuances I was way too young to understand the first time around.
However that was not the case in most ways for To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee wrote from a child’s point of view, one of innocence, truth and honest questioning. A viewpoint that a child could follow, especially a child of the South. Her book affected me the first time I read it as well as the 2nd, 3rd and 4th. This last re-read made me realize more than ever that part of the book’s allure is that it was truthful about things often not discussed such as race and class. However what I think made it even more attractive is that is was from a child’s point of view. A child that had to be told why things were the way they were. Doesn’t it all sounds so silly when it has to be explained….doesn’t it make us see how these rules and ideas we held dear were wrong…and really didn’t make any sense at all. Isn’t it amazing how the innocence of children so often makes us see the truth just like that moment outside the jail when Scout makes a connection that makes everyone  human once again and breaks up the mob.
It reminds me not to dismiss what comes from the mouths of babes…for it is so often true and wise, much more so than anything we adults have sat and mulled over for hours. Lee knew that I think, that’s why she let that little tomboy girl do the talking. She knew Scout was the voice that could deliver the story with nothing but honesty and innocence and truth. That is what made it a classic and why it is so impacting to so many…we were all children. We all asked why things were the way they were. We all wondered….questioned….decided.  And made our own estimations of why life works the way it does. We can only hope Scout helped some out in their outlooks and that people were changed as a result. I have now doubt some were and still are. Bravo Ms. Lee….and Happy 50th!
https://i0.wp.com/www.harpercollinscatalogs.com/TR/vlarge/9780061924071_0_Cover.jpg For lovers of To Kill a Mockingbird, I recommend Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird. A great book of essays and reflections from prominent figures, authors and even relatives of Lee herself about the book. It’s a great way to visit the book through other eyes or as Atticus would say “in their shoes”.

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Filed under Adult Books, Award Winners, Classic Literature, Events

Classics Circuit Tour: Alexandre Dumas

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Welcome to the Classic’s Circuit continuing tour through 19th century French Literature.  This time we are exploring Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870). I myself have only read Dumas’ classics that are well known such as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. And so I decided to search for a more obscure work and chose The Queen’s Necklace.

Synopsis: “The Queen’s Necklace” dramatizes an unsavory incident in the 1780s at the court of King Louis XVI of France involving the King’s wife, Marie Antoinette. Her reputation was already tarnished by gossip and scandal, and her implication in a crime involving a stolen necklace became one of the major turning-points of public opinion against the monarchy, which eventually culminated in the French Revolution.” -FlipKart
I must say that I enjoyed The Queen’s Necklace despite Dumas often becoming quite wordy about random topics that did not affect the plot or story. He is also quite fanciful with characters who can predict the future or heal the sick through esoteric “hocus pocus” type remedies popular in that time period.  It is added fun but sometimes seems to drag on and on and I myself was much more interested in the general story line of the French Revolution.
The most interesting aspect of The Queen’s Necklace for me was the treatment of the character of Marie Antoinette.  I have read so many different fictional and non-fictional accounts of her that I was quite surprised at Dumas treatment of her. In the beginning he makes her out to be quite generous, virtuous and almost made the relationship between her and King Louis XVI romantic in nature. In one scene he is cast as the jealous husband where in most presentations in literature and history we see him as not interested in the Queen, even dismissive of her as a wife or life partner. It’s very intriguing to see all the different aspects of character represented through different works. It makes you wonder who these real individuals truly were and whether what we accept as their personalities and faults are in fact true.
Dumas is a wonderful writer who paints dramatic and opulent pictures for this work. I enjoyed his fancifulness and his attention to detail. I look forward to possibly seeking out more of his less popular works in the future. Until then I highly recommend The Queen’s Necklace to anyone who is interested in the French Revolution or Marie Antoinette herself. The work though wordy is worth it. And while many know how things ended the book still has much to offer in additional fictional details and Dumas’ own creative opinions. Although one must also keep in mind that after the ousting of the Monarchy in 1822 Dumas worked at the Palais Royal in the office of duc d’Orléans and so was quite close to what could have been very factual accounts.


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Review: The Foundling by Charlotte Bronte

When one thinks of fairy tales…one might not automatically think of Charlotte Bronte or even the illustrious Bronte sisters at all. However at a very young age the Bronte sisters and their brother Branwell created many worlds of their own in which imaginative characters and unbelievable places abounded. Many of these stories began with the simple imaginings of a group of toy soldiers. With villains by the name of Naughty and Pigtail….The Foundling is one such of the many stories they created. Charlotte Bronte wrote The Foundling at the tender age of seventeen. It’s setting Verdopolis and mixture of wild and mildly harmless characters creates a world similar to that in Gulliver’s Travels in my mind. Introduce a love story, a mysterious orphan with obvious royal parentage and one has a fairy tale worthy of any I have ever been honored to read. While often overlooked The Foundling is yet another testament to the imagination and talent of the Bronte sisters. Next on my list is The Green Dwarf, yet another often neglected Charlotte Bronte work. I must confess Jane Eyre remains to this day my comfort book, a book I go to numerous times a year to re-read. It makes me feel safe, comfortable and at home but Charlotte Bronte’s other books must not be overlooked.

However I cannot help but mention that I am very excited about the new production of Jane Eyre of which I have been following casting. In my mind there can never be too many although Cirian Hinds will always be my Mr. Rochester. The production in scheduled to appear in 2011 and I know will be eagerly awaited by so many of us. In the meantime it is nice to know there are stories like The Foundling hiding in my library shelves just waiting for discovery.

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Filed under Adult Books, Classic Literature