In David Lodge’s delightful novel Changing Places a group of English Literature academics play a game called ‘Humiliation’. Contestants have to name a famous and important work of literature they have NOT read. In the novel the game is won by the professor of literature who admits to never having read Hamlet.
What great works are still on your ‘to read’ list? My sister is currently reading War and Peace, feeling that she should not go through life without experiencing that great book. Have you read Ulysses, Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (I know of 3 book groups that are currently making their way through the many volumes of that masterpiece), Moby-Dick, Don Quixote or The Canterbury Tales?
I knew that one gaping hole in my own reading was Dante, and in preparation for my forthcoming Italian literary tour, I tackled Clive James’ acclaimed translation of The Divine Comedy. I really loved it, and am so pleased that I am now familiar with this famous classic which has influenced so many people. I wish I could read it in Italian (Dorothy L. Sayers learned Italian just so she could read Dante in the original), but the translation still got me hooked. It was not an easy read, but a wonderfully worthwhile one.
Why don’t you encourage your book group to tackle some classic you’ve always meant to read, or make a list of books you really do want to read before you die, and get started on one of them?
Which classics have generated the most lively discussions at your book club? Which ones have you read, or not been able to finish? I’d love to hear your comments, please click below.
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