Friday, January 23, 2015

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice
Could I possible complete a classics challenge without reading Jane Austin?  I'm reading several books at the same time.  Pride and Prejudice is in the rotation.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Souls of Black Folks

The Souls of Black FolkI decided, immediately, when I started the classics challenge that, at some point, I would read the Souls of Black Folks.

I never realized how important W. E. B. Du Boise was to the African American community until I read one of Maya Angelou’s autobiographies.  I knew, from my college Black history classes, that he was an activist, an intellectual and a scientist.  I knew some particulars about his accomplishments, but I had no idea what he meant to people.

For Blacks who grew up in the 30’s and 40’s, Maya said that Du Bois was their greatest hero.  Maya wrote that her and her friends almost worshipped him and didn’t accept his mortality.  Even when Du Boise was in his 90’s, they rejected his right to die.  She brought home to me the importance and influence of Du Boise.  The Souls of Black Folks is always listed as an African American classic.  I am excited to learn more about Du Bois and his ideas.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte Review

Jane EyreJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I felt like I, probably, read this book in high school. I’m sure that I have never seen a movie adaptation, but some elements of plot seemed familiar. Almost anything that I read in the 80’s is, almost, completely new to me if I pick it now. I don’t think that I would have enjoyed this book as a young adult. I didn’t know enough about literature to recognize Jane Eyre as an impeccable rendition of a gothic/romantic novel, and I didn’t know enough about history appreciate how forward thinking Brontё was on the issues of sexism, poverty, religion, and class. My tastes are evolving, too. I’ve always liked books filled with action and adventure, but, now, I, also, crave exceptional writing. Brontё doesn’t dazzle you with symbolism and allegories you can’t understand. Jane Eyre is very accessible, yet the writing is clear and sophisticated.

One of the things that make this book special is Jane’s character. A bildungsroman, which this book is, can only be successful if you enjoy the main character. Jane is likeable, both as a child and young adult. She is every woman, fighting to find and defend herself in a hostile world.

Brontё may have been forward thinking about many things, but she didn’t appear to be so on issues of race. She seems to almost have an obsession with white skin. Every person’s skin color was described, paying special attention to the darkness versus lightness, dark clearly being the inferior. There were a couple of times in the book when Jane made disparaging analogies about Jews, as well. There were also references to phrenology. Brontё( like all of us) was part of the society in which she lived and not immune to its influences.

I enjoyed this book a great deal. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone, but I think it would appeal especially to women.

View all my reviews

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Jayne Eyre: The Ws

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I discovered it in high school.  I may have read it.  Some very specific elements of the plot seemed very familiar.

WHAT Makes It A Classic
150+ years after it was written, it is still being discovered and enjoyed by new readers.  The writing is excellent, and the issues that Brontё deals with are still present in society. 

WHY I Chose to Read It
I wanted to step out of my comfort zone with a romance.

WILL It Stay A Classic
Without a doubt, it will stay a classic.  With all the movie adaptations, new readers will continue to find it.

WHO I’d Recommend It To
Yes, I can imagine men liking the book, but I think Jane would have a special appeal to women.