Thursday, December 15, 2016

Back to the Classics 2017: My List


As I read more and more classics, inevitably I end up reading a majority of books written by men. But there are lots of classics written by women, many of which are ignored or forgotten. For 2017,  I've decided to try and complete the entire Back to the Classics Challenge by reading only books by women, preferably books from my own shelves. Here's a tentative list of what I want to read:

19th Century Classic: Red Pottage by Mary Cholmondely or The Semi-Attached Couple by Emily Eden.



20th Century Classic: Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain OR London War Notes OR One Fine Day, both written by Mollie Panter-Downes.


Classic by a Woman Author: This is basically a free choice, but I want to read either a Virago or Persephone imprint, since I have quite a few unread on my shelves. Possibly Jenny Wren by E. H. Young.

Classic in Translation: Maman, What Are We Called Now? by Jacqueline Mesnil-Amar is a recent Persephone reprint that I bought at the shop in London last summer. First published in 1957, it's a diary kept by a Jewish Frenchwoman during the WWII Occupation of Paris. I could also read the The Misunderstanding by Irene Nemirovsky.

Pre-1800 Classic: This is a little tricker if I want to read a female author, but I do have Love and Freindship by Jane Austen in a beautiful hardcover Penguin edition, and it includes all her juvenilia so it counts.


Romance Classic: Something by Georgette Heyer -- she's written so many, and they're really fun, light reads. I have a copy of The Masqueraders but my library has several of her other books including Arabella and Friday's Child. 

Gothic Classic: Something by Daphne du Maurier, though I don't know if all her books are considered Gothic. I haven't read Frenchman's Creek and I think that one would qualify.


Classic With a Number in the Title: Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles. I just bought this and it looks really interesting. 


Classic About an Animal (or Animal in the Title): Deerbrook by Harriet Martineau. It's a big fat Victorian that's been on the TBR shelf for several years.



Classic Set in a Place I'd Like to Visit: The Flame Trees of Thika (Kenya) or something by Pearl S. Buck (China), or The Country Girls by Edna O'Brien (Ireland). 



Award-Winning Classic:  Miss Mole by E. H. Young or Kristin Lavransdattar by Sigrid Undset.



Russian Classic: This is a tough one because I don't know of any classic Russian authors that are women. However, Persephone has a book translated from Russian called Into the Whirlwild by Eugenia Ginzburg, a memoir of Stalin's terror published in 1967 which would just make the cutoff. I could also read something by Irene Nemirovsky. She wrote in French but was born in Ukraine and her family left after the Revolution, so I think that qualifies her as a Russian writer.



And of course, some or maybe all of these will probably change -- I don't think I've ever completed this challenge with the original list! Bloggers, have you read any of these, or do you have any other suggestions to fit these categories? And do any of you choose a theme when deciding on books for a challenge? 

12 comments:

  1. Testament of Youth is incredible, Karen. I hope you pick that one. It's seriously good. And Kristin Lavransdattar was one of Margaret Mitchell's favorites. Which should DEFINITELY sway your choice. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really want to read Testament of Youth, I know so little about WWI. I didn't know MM liked Kristin Lavransdattar but that does influence me! I've been watching a lot of Scandinavian TV the past couple of years and I'm really interested in reading and learning more about their culture.

      Delete
  2. I do like the theme idea. Last year I thought that I might try to fit as many Trollope titles in to every category but then I opted for variety after all!

    Of your possible selections, I have read One Fine Day and liked it very much.

    For a female Russian author you could try "Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea" by Teffi which was republished by NYRB Classics recently but originally published in the 1930s. I haven’t read it myself but I have heard good things from others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It occurred to me one year that I could find a Trollope novel for almost every single category, except female author and book in translation! I hadn't heard of Teffi but I've had good luck with NYRB Classics, I'll have to look for it!

      Delete
  3. What a wonderful way to approach the challenge! I have few women authors on my list, as it happens...but that might change.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always end up changing my list, and I might not end up using all female authors. Even if I don't fulfill all the categories I want to read the majority from books by women.

      Delete
  4. This is a great list, I'm really looking forward to what you make of them. I've not actually read any of these...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for sharing your "potential" list! 2017 will be my first time to participate in this challenge, and it's great to be able to see suggestions based on what you're reading.

    Today I've been trying to work out which classics I might be reading for the challenge. I'm going to try to squeeze in a du Maurier novel like you, but I'm thinking about My Cousin Rachel.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Such an interesting set of categories--some tried and true, and some new. I like the romance and gothic categories. FYI, I didn't care for Frenchman's Creek, but that could just be me. Not the best DDM in my opinion. Yes, Georgette Heyer is the best of her genre--so many fun titles to choose from. Enjoy your 2017 classic reading!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersburg Russia and moved to the US in 1926. just an idea. Looking forward to this new challenge. Thanks for doing the challenge again!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow! I haven't heard of any of those but the Austen!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I got about 3/4 of the way through Testament of Youth and gave up. Very literary and poignant but she lost me in the last part. I was reading All Quiet on the Western Front at the same time and the difference in the experiences of the two protagonists was very sharp & I think that was the clincher. Brittain was well off, privileged and compared to the soldier narrator of All Quiet, totally wrapped up in her own feelings and the effects of the war on her. Sounds harsh & I may have felt differently if I wasn't comparing the two books - and her philosophical rants annoyed me. I've liked a couple of du Maurier's books. Thanks again for the challenge.

    ReplyDelete