The poll to vote on a classic for January is up, it will close next Wednesday (11/24). Descriptions below, VOTE HERE
:::: Descriptions ::::1. Everything That Rises Must Converge, by Flannery O'Connor : 320 pages
Collection of nine short stories by Flannery O'connor, published posthumously in 1965. The flawed characters of each story are fully revealed in apocalyptic moments of conflict and violence that are presented with comic detachment. The title story is a tragicomedy about social pride, racial bigotry, generational conflict, false liberalism, and filial dependence. The protagonist Julian Chestny is hypocritically disdainful of his mother's prejudices. His smug selfishness is replaced with childish fear when she suffers a fatal stroke after being struck by a black woman she has insulted out of oblivious ignorance rather than malice. Similarly, "The Comforts of Home" is about an intellectual son with an Oedipus complex. Driven by the voice of his dead father, the son accidentally kills his sentimental mother in an attempt to murder a harlot. The other stories are "A View of the Woods," "Parker's Back," "The Enduring Chill," "Greenleaf," "The Lame Shall Enter First," "Revelation," and "Judgment Day."2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee : 296 pages
This 1960's classic, taking place in the Southern town of Maycomb, tells the story of three children as they grow ever stronger as they overcome many obstacles- including racism, moral values, life without a mother, and a court trial against Tom Robinson- a black man accused of raping and beating Mayella Ewell, the daughter of Bob Ewell- and his attorney Atticus Finch- the father of two of the characters, Jem and Jean-Louis (Scout) Finch. Jem and Scout must learn to deal with the harsh disapproval the town and the rest of their family has with their father. Their best friend Dill Harris, who lives in Mobile, joins the Finch's in the summer. The three friends make up to play outside, to make the summer days pass in a pleasant manner. But when summer's over, it's back to school where Jem gets along fine, but Scout struggles to get along with the other students who make fun of her father and her teacher, Miss Stephanie Crawford. Fires, gunshots, threats, lies, and a dramatic court case cause uproars in the town, and the three friends grow closer everyday.3. Notes from Underground, by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Author), Boris Jakim (Translator) : 152 pages
One of the most profound and most unsettling works of modern literature, Notes from Underground (first published in 1864) remains a cultural and literary watershed. In these pages Dostoevsky unflinchingly examines the dark, mysterious depths of the human heart. The Underground Man so chillingly depicted here has become an archetypal figure ? loathsome and prophetic ? in contemporary culture. / This vivid new rendering by Boris Jakim is more faithful to Dostoevsky?s original Russian than any previous translation; it maintains the coarse, vivid language underscoring the ?visceral experimentalism? that made both the book and its protagonist groundbreaking and iconic.4. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen : 265 pages
First published in 1813. The story follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education and marriage in the landed gentry society of early 19th-century England. Elizabeth is the second eldest of five daughters of a country gentleman landed in the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London.
Though the story's setting is characteristically turn-of-the-19th-century, it retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of 'most loved books' such as The Big Read. It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, and receives considerable attention from literary scholars. Modern interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen's memorable characters or themes. To date, the book has sold some 20 million copies worldwide.5. Lolita, by Nabokov : 336 pages
Despite its lascivious reputation, the pleasures of Lolita are as much intellectual as erogenous. It is a love story with the power to raise both chuckles and eyebrows. Humbert Humbert is a European intellectual adrift in America, haunted by memories of a lost adolescent love. When he meets his ideal nymphet in the shape of 12-year-old Dolores Haze, he constructs an elaborate plot to seduce her, but first he must get rid of her mother. In spite of his diabolical wit, reality proves to be more slippery than Humbert's feverish fantasies, and Lolita refuses to conform to his image of the perfect lover.
Playfully perverse in form as well as content, riddled with puns and literary allusions, Nabokov's 1955 novel is a hymn to the Russian-born author's delight in his adopted language. Indeed, readers who want to probe all of its allusive nooks and crannies will need to consult the annotated edition. Lolita is undoubtedly, brazenly erotic, but the eroticism springs less from the "frail honey-hued shoulders ... the silky supple bare back" of little Lo than it does from the wantonly gorgeous prose that Humbert uses to recount his forbidden passion:
She was musical and apple-sweet ... Lola the bobby-soxer, devouring her immemorial fruit, singing through its juice ... and every movement she made, every shuffle and ripple, helped me to conceal and to improve the secret system of tactile correspondence between beast and beauty--between my gagged, bursting beast and the beauty of her dimpled body in its innocent cotton frock.
Much has been made of Lolita as metaphor, perhaps because the love affair at its heart is so troubling. Humbert represents the formal, educated Old World of Europe, while Lolita is America: ripening, beautiful, but not too bright and a little vulgar. Nabokov delights in exploring the intercourse between these cultures, and the passages where Humbert describes the suburbs and strip malls and motels of postwar America are filled with both attraction and repulsion, "those restaurants where the holy spirit of Huncan Dines had descended upon the cute paper napkins and cottage-cheese-crested salads." Yet however tempting the novel's symbolism may be, its chief delight--and power--lies in the character of Humbert Humbert. He, at least as he tells it, is no seedy skulker, no twisted destroyer of innocence. Instead, Nabokov's celebrated mouthpiece is erudite and witty, even at his most depraved. Humbert can't help it--linguistic jouissance is as important to him as the satisfaction of his arrested libido. 6. Herzog, by Saul Bellow : 352 pages
A novel complex, compelling, absurd and realistic, Herzog became a classic almost as soon as it was published in 1964. In it Saul Bellow tells the tale of Moses E. Herzog, a tragically confused intellectual who suffers from the breakup of his second marriage, the general failure of his life and the specter of growing up Jewish in the middle part of the 20th century. He responds to his personal crisis by sending out a series of letters to all kinds of people. The letters in total constitute a thoughtful examination of his own life and that which has occurred around him. What emerges is not always pretty, but serves as gritty foundation for this absorbing novel.