Thanks to Karen at Books & Chocolate for hosting the 2019 Back to the Classics Challenge! It’s a great way to make sure I get at least a dozen classics mixed in with the year’s reading. I’ve completed books from all 12 categories (3 entries in the drawing!), so here’s the wrap-up post (click any title for the full review).
19th Century Classic – The Warden by Anthony Trollope: a witty/snarky take on church politics that shows an understanding of human nature (and a dislike of “troublemaking” reformers like that insufferable Charles Dickens)
20th Century Classic – Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak: A flowery account of horrifying conditions in Soviet Russia, an adulterous love affair, and amazingly convenient coincidences
Classic by a Woman – Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor: Surreal loosely connecting storylines dealing with religion, mysticism, and hypocrisy
Classic in Translation – Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy: everything I generally dislike in Christian fiction (morbid introspection, plot secondary to theology, preachiness, etc.) but in the hands of a master like Tolstoy it works…probably my favorite classic of the year.
Classic Tragedy – Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy: an account of all-too-believable life-destroying obsessive discontent
Classic Comic Novel – The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N by Leonard Q. Ross: The joys and travails of trying to teach a student whose “unique” thought process gets in the way of learning the absurd language that is English
Very Long Classic – The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne: A book made up almost entirely of digressions, asides, and slightly off-color (but self-censored) jokes
Classic Novella – Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad: A horrifying look at colonial exploitation in the Belgian Congo and the evil that lurks in the human heart
Classic from the Americas or Caribbean – The Prince & the Pauper by Mark Twain: Second-tier Twain; less cynical (but less well-written) than A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
Classic from Africa, Asia, or Oceania – The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat: A disturbing descent into murderous insanity
Classic from a Place You’ve Lived – O Alienistsa (The Alienist) by Machado de Assis: Fantastic satire on those who think everything can be perfectly understood by science and fixed by psychiatry
Classic Play – King Lear by William Shakespeare: Grimdark Shakespeare
(on the off-chance I win, I can be contacted here)