The Classics Club: Monthly Meme #44

The Classics Club Meme

Each month The Classics Club releases a question to get club members thinking, discussing and sharing; either on the official site or on their own sites. This month’s question is a rewind from November 2012:

What classic piece of literature most intimidates you, and why? (Or, are you intimidated by the classics, and why? And has your view changed at all since you joined our club?)

The classic piece of literature that intimidates me the most is an easy one, it has to be the epic, Russian classic War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy! I love the idea of the Russian setting but I am totally intimated by the fact it is a translation, it is a whopping 1,200+ pages and I’ve heard that there are whole swaths of philosophical discussion rather than narrative and an overwhelming amount of names, many of which are very similar, and titles to pick your way through. Overall the cons are out-weighing the pros for me.

Since joining The Classics Club I have managed to read these translated works: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, Around the World in Eighty Days and Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne; all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. So the fact it is a translation is not so much of an issue anymore, as I know I can read and enjoy them. However this hasn’t really changed my mind about reading this book, especially when there are so many other books I would prefer to try first – at the end of the day, for me, reading is to be a pleasure not a chore.

With that in mind, I decided to watch the BBC’s sumptuous TV adaptation earlier this year – slightly cheating, I know, but as I said I feel it is very unlikely I will ever read this book. It was a beautiful production with a stellar ensemble cast but I didn’t love it enough to run out and get the book!

What classic piece of literature most intimidates you? Also, please let me know and link in the comments below if you have taken part in this month’s Classic Club meme too.

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20 thoughts on “The Classics Club: Monthly Meme #44

  1. If Anna Karenina’s anything to go by, philosophy and many names would be par for the course so I think you chose well in watching the adaptation rather than reading the book. And yes to 1200+ pages being a lot! That’s 12 pages to 1% read; maybe it’s the whole present day lack of attention span thing but eek!

    Regarding your response to Judy, the Anna sections of AK are really good, it’s the Levin sections that carry on a bit (though I know someone who preferred Levin.) Overall it’s worth reading.

    Shogun all the way for me: 1100+ pages, tiny text, no margins. I should probably look for another copy but then that would mean an even bigger book.

    1. Charlie, it is comforting to know you agree that this is a very long book! You may be right that nowadays we have shorter attention spans and I think probably too many other distractions for books this long. I am pleased to hear that overall you enjoyed Anna Karenina though.

      Wow, 1100+ pages, tiny text and no margins wouldn’t enamour me to read Shogun either, in fact it would probably make me run for the hills! If you do ever pick it up, good luck 😀

  2. [War and Peace[/i] came to my mind, as well. The epilogue is supposed to be a historio-philosophical reflection. I have to read it, though, because of the aforementioned Hepburn movie — I can’t watch a movie based on a book before reading the book!

    1. Hello Stephen, thank you for stopping by and commenting – it is always great to hear off a new face 🙂 Whenever, wherever you get round to reading this, good luck and I hope you enjoy it!

  3. You can start small with Russian lit–there is plenty of short stuff to read. And I’d second the recommendation to read Anna Karenina first. I loved both Anna and W&P! Tolstoy isn’t *hard* to read–he’s just really long. Try some of his many short stories first.

    1. Hello Jean, thank you for stopping by and for the advice – I think reading shorter Russian lit would definitely be a better place to start rather than jumping in the deep-end with a novel!

  4. I read W&P a couple of years ago as a result of a half-joking argument I was having with a friend over whether Dickens (my favourite) was or wasn’t better than the Russians (his great love). It took me about three months, and sadly, while I quite enjoyed the experience, I wasn’t overwhelmed by love for it, and very quickly forgot all but a few scenes after I finished. Result? Dickens is definitely better! 😉

  5. I answered this last time with the same result – Ulysses!!

    I read War & Peace about 15 yrs ago. I used to be a teacher & I picked a big book to read for every summer holiday period. I had read about of Russian lit at this point, do the name thing wasn’t too confusing & the history was familiar enough to me. Some of the storylines were better for me than others, but I think my translation was a bit flat. My main recommendation, therefore, is to research a translation that you’re comfortable with – it makes a big dugference.

    1. Thank you for the advice Brona 🙂 I love that you used to pick a big book to read over the summer holiday; that’s a great idea. I am also completely and utterly daunted by Ulysses too!

  6. It’s about two years since I did a classics club meme – they dont get any easier do they? I understand our points about War and Peace; it definitely takes a lot of focus to remember those character names. Luckily my edition had a family tre at the beginning which I copied and used as a bookmark. I read it as a teenager and admit to skipping a lot of the sections I found tedious. But if you really don’t fancy it, give it a miss. Plenty of other books await you that are more rewarding.

    1. No BookerTalk these memes haven’t got much easier, even the rewind ones, but I have been having fun completing them this year. I am well impressed that you read War and Peace as a teenager 😀

  7. I know what you mean about War and Peace. I watched the 1956 adaptation with Audrey Hepburn. I think I will read the book someday because I read and loved Anna Karenina. In fact, I would suggest that as a book by Tolstoy to read first. Also, I made it through Crime and Punishment this year, and that made me brave!

    1. All I can say Judy is well done 🙂 I am pretty intimidated by all Russian literature! If I am ever feeling brave enough though I will keep Anna Karenina in mind for my first read.

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