I've seen the Classics Club chatting on twitter (@ourclassicsclub) and sharing the love of classics in the blog world for quite a while. But I never took the time to really look into what they were actually doing and how they operated. Recently on twitter, someone mentioned the Women's Classic Literature Event that they are hosting for the whole of 2016. And I was hooked!
The Classics Club encourages the reading of classics (duh) but they allow "classic" to be defined by the reader. And they are a lively bunch of book lovers! I'm so glad I've finally joined the Classics Club, and signed up to participate in this great project for next year.
I've been working on the Century of Books challenge for the past two years, and I've read about 75% of my titles. I set my Century of Books challenge to be only women writers, so for this new Event, I am going to continue on with the Century of Books list. Once I finish 100 books by women, no duplicate authors or rereads, I will just keep adding any women's classics I read to that list. For the Women's Classic Literature Event, classics are suggested as pre-1960s books, so I'll also be sticking to that as closely as possible, though exceptions may be made for Canadian lit, since the 70's are considered our classic period.
Anyhow, I'll be starting in on this Event officially as of January 1st, 2016. In preparation, the Classics Club has created an introductory survey. Here are my answers:
- Introduce yourself. Tell us what you are most looking forward to in this event.
I am a Canadian librarian and a big reader of both old and new titles. Lately I've been skewing toward newer titles but I have SO many of my own, older books that I want to finally get to. I am really looking forward to the extra push to get back to them and share the gems that have been hiding on my shelves!
- Have you read many classics by women? Why or why not?
Yes! I prefer women writers, overall, and find that I read heavily in favour of women's novels/stories/journals each year.
- Pick a classic female writer you can’t wait to read for the event, & list her date of birth, her place of birth, and the title of one of her most famous works.I really want to finally read some Rose Macaulay. Born in Rugby, Warwickshire in 1881, she published her first novel in 1906. Her best-known, award-winning novel is The Towers of Trebizond, but I'd also like to read Crewe Train, and The World my Wilderness, as well as her collection of anecdotal essays, Personal Pleasures. I own copies of most of these, just have to read them!
- Think of a female character who was represented in classic literature by a male writer. Does she seem to be a whole or complete woman? Why or why not? Tell us about her. (Without spoilers, please!)
I really liked Charlotte Grandison, from Sir Charles Grandison. The heroine of the book is a bit too sweet and perfect, but Charlotte is mouthy, funny, and sarcastic. She's not keen on husbands or babies, even when she has both, and she is definitely her own person. I feel like Samuel Richardson really liked women, from my reading of this novel.
- Favorite classic heroine? (Why? Who wrote her?)
Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables is one of my favourite Canadian heroines. I met her when I was a young, awkward, literary pre-teen, and she & I just got along so well. I reread AGG regularly & still enjoy the visits. I am a big fan of Lucy Maud Montgomery as an author and as a Canadian individual.
- We’d love to help clubbers find great titles by classic female authors. Can you recommend any sources for building a list?
Searching the lists made by participants in the Century of Books project may give you some ideas. Also, the Victorian Web is a very fun place to visit!
- Recommend three books by classic female writers to get people started in this event.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (one of my faves)
North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim (for a light & enjoyable read)
- Will you be joining us for this event immediately, or will you wait until the new year starts?
I'm waiting for a fresh start, as of January 1st.
- Do you plan to read as inspiration pulls, or will you make out a preset list?
I'm doing a combination: I have a list from a previous challenge that I'm going to keep working on, but add other titles as I feel drawn to them.
- Are you pulling to any particular genres? (Letters, journals, biographies, short stories, novels, poems, essays, etc?)
I'll be focusing on novels, with a secondary interest in journals.
- Are you pulling to a particular era or location in literature by women?
By reading many of the books I already own, I'll be leaning toward 19th C./early 20th C. North America & England.
- Do you hope to host an event or readalong for the group? No worries if you don’t have details. We’re just curious!
Not thinking of one currently... but you never know!
- Share a quote you love by a classic female author — even if you haven’t read the book yet.
I suppose it's like that -- you can never get far enough outside your own life to see it as a story, something that is romantic or tragic or strange. It goes along with you all the time and you don't know the pattern of it any more than you know the sound of your own voice.
(from One Foolish Heart by June Wilson, 1948)
- Finally, ask the question you wish this survey had asked, & then answer it.
My question is: what book from your own country's literature do you think is an underrated classic?
My answer: for my own part, in Canadian literature, I think that Vera Lysenko's Yellow Boots is overlooked, but it is a great example of a mid-century struggle with one's ethnic background, a theme that was appearing around that time as writers were trying to understand what "Canadian" meant. Also, in the mystery genre, anything by Margaret Millar is a classic -- she is a terribly underrated Canadian writer!