Up until this point with this blog, I’ve restricted my topics to classic novels (or, in the case of Beowulf, classic epic poems) that I’ve actually, well, read.
However, I feel a good way to interact with you all and give you a bit of insight into my reading process would be to mention some titles that I want to dust off, but I haven’t gotten around to yet for various reasons, which I’ll explain. If you have read any or all of the novels I’m about to list out, I’d really appreciate if you left a comment giving your thoughts on the work—after all, the more feedback on these books, the better, or else blogs like these wouldn’t serve much of a purpose!
Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes.
Considered to be the first modern novel, Don Quixote has been a blip on my reading radar for quite a while. My interest in it piqued this past September when I read Salman Rushdie’s new novel Quichotte, which has references galore to Cervantes’s acclaimed comic look at a man who sets out on a knightly journey. This novel’s power in literature has spread into English lexicon with the adjective “quixotic.” My main reason for not having not read Don Quixote yet is its length. According to its Goodreads profile, this book clocks in at 1,023 pages, and when I peeked at a copy once, my eyes bugged when I saw how dense the text was.
Under the Volcano, by Malcolm Lowry.
I did dust this classic novel off back in January, but what a bad idea that was. I was unprepared, or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood, for Lowry’s prose, which is complex and often lyrical.
Making sense of the surface story—it has something to do with an English couple in Mexico, I think—alone stumped me, so I abandoned the novel a third of the way through. That doesn’t mean I disliked it. Ever since putting the book aside, I’ve been planning about making a successful return to it if I enter with a better understanding of its plot. I might also need a high dosage of patience.
Ulysses, by James Joyce.
From what I’ve heard: Ulysses is long, makes close to zero sense unless you’re a literary scholar, and requires a working understanding of an ancient Greek epic, The Odyssey.
While I have read The Odyssey, I zoned out of a good chunk of it. Nevertheless, James Joyce’s writings have intrigued me ever since I read his short story “Araby.” His pioneering stream-of-consciousness technique in Ulysses has further stoked my interest, seeing as how one of my favorite authors, William Faulkner, adapted that style into his own novels. As if I needed any more incentive to read Ulysses, Modern Library named it the best English-language novel of the 20th century.
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas.
About a decade ago, I read an abridged version of this revenge saga, but I didn’t realize it was abridged until after I had read it! Ugh.
In the years since, I have entertained hopes of reading the full book. While its length is daunting, The Count of Monte Cristo has one of the most entertaining storylines I’ve come across in literature as it shows the long, intricate steps a wronged Frenchman named Edmond Dantès takes to get back at those who wrongly imprisoned him. Of the novels listed in this post, this is easily the one I look forward to dusting off the most once I finally make the time to get to it.
Of course, this begs the question: What are some classic novels you’ve been meaning to dust off, but haven’t gotten around to? I’m always on the lookout for new titles!