Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The thing about classics is that often, there is an assumption that everyone knows what happens. Even if you haven't read the book you probably know the basic premise of the story. Which can be a bit of a downer if you actually want to read the darn thing. Alternately, there is often the assumption that you know what the book is about...so there are all sorts of references to classics that can go right over a person's head. It's a lose-lose situation.
A challenge? Okay, Ali. I accept your challenge of a chapter and I'll raise you a section. Because I just happen to have Anna Karenina on hand (long story), and well, it really doesn't have chapters. It has eight parts, divided into somethings...whatever they are, they're too short to be called chapters (at least for the sake of this challenge). Since I can't read only two pages for a mini-review, I'm going for Part 1 in its entirety.
Anna and I got off to a shaky start. Oblonsky seemed a bit too fond of saying "ay ay ay" and "oh oh oh" (pages 2-3) and then on page 13 it was a bunch of "ah's." Despite this less than stellar vocabularian (yes, I'm making up words) start, the dialogue mellowed (a bit) dramatically and improved (quite a bit) in terms of qualifying as dialogue and not just "oh woe is me" sentiments and the book actually got interesting. Although I was starting to despair that the title character would never appear. I guess if a book is 800 plus pages, the author can be forgiven for taking 60 pages before introducing the person the book is supposedly about.
One of my favorite things about the book (so far) are the notes that the translators included at the end. They explain some of the more obscure Russian terms and the references that would have made sense in 1877, but that are beyond this modern girl. Since I loved the few Russian history classes I took in college, these notes are a bonus.
Currently I'm on page 77 and *gasp* enjoying it. What is drawing me in is the glimpse into a society and way of life that is long gone. This book is appealing to my inner historian. I'm definitely reading to the end of Part 1, then I'm going all out and finishing the book. At least I hope so.
3) Let's say you're vacationing with your dear cousin Myrtle, and she forgot to bring a book. The two of you venture into the hip independent bookstore around the corner, where she primly announces that she only reads classic literature. If you don't find her a book, she'll never let you get any reading done! What contemporary book/s with classic appeal would you pull off the shelf for her?
4) As you explore the other Weekly Geeks posts: Did any inspire you to want to read a book you've never read before—or reread one to give it another chance? Tell us all about it, including a link to the post or posts that sparked your interest. If you end up reading the book, be sure to include a link to your post about it in a future Weekly Geeks post!