Tag Archives: Classics

Review: Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice
By Jane Austen
Penguin Classics, 9780143105428, 2009, 352pp.

The Short of It:

This beloved classic has finally been read by me. Any surprises? No, but I am glad to finally mark this one off my list.

The Rest of It:

If you’ve read the book or seen the movie, then you know that the Bennet sisters, all five of them are in some stage of being married off to suitable gentleman. Well, Mrs. Bennet HOPES for them to find suitable matches, men who will provide for them and allow them to live a respectable, if not wealthy life. Men of means.

I think perhaps this aspect of the story is what’s kept me from the book all these years. I’ve tried to read it a  handful of times and always put it down a few chapters in. It seemed too frivolous and a tad too pleasant. All this “finding a  man” business. However, this made for a VERY enjoyable story to read during a pandemic.

Plus, Mr. Darcy. The disagreeable Mr. Darcy if you ask Elizabeth Bennet. Anyone reading the book knows within two mentions of his name that he won’t be disagreeable for long. What made this book even more fun is that my daughter and I watched the movie as soon as I finished the book. I did not have access to the miniseries with Colin Firth so we opted for the Kiera Knightly movie which we both enjoyed quite a bit.

There are no surprises with the story. It’s pretty much what I imagined but timing is everything and reading it now was so much more enjoyable than all my previous attempts. I dare say, that I may attempt another Austen. If so, which?

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Ulysses


By James Joyce
Published 2013 by Vintage (first published February 2nd 1922), 816pp

The Short of It:

A fantastical romp of failures and missed opportunities but a real treat for the imagination.

The Rest of It:

Oh! How people dread this one! Long ago I tried to read it but never got past the beginning. Mostly it was a timing issue. I made a mental note to come back to it and so I did, with a few others who joined me for a read-along.

Let me tell you, the first half vexed me. It was gibberish. No matter how many times I read a sentence, it made no sense! I even resorted to reading it out loud. My dog thought I was yelling at her though so I had to stop. But somewhere in the second half, Joyce’s writing became understandable and from there, there was no turning back.

The story takes place on June 16. A day so celebrated by fans that it’s called Bloomsday. Leopold Bloom’s day is spent having lunch, spending time with friends, visiting brothels and bailing his friends out of trouble. The chapters (episodes) vary in format and the narration shifts back and forth between characters.

Much of it makes no sense. You just have to know that going in. There are plenty of reading guides available but most of them just tell you to read it for yourself. It’s a book that begs you to hate it but if you appreciate a good imagination and don’t mind dealing with hallucinations and fantastical elements, then perhaps you’ll love it.

Do I love it? Maybe. It’s been a few days since I finished it and my thoughts are still percolating. I can see myself re-reading it at some point.

Did I mention that it was banned for pornographic content? The ban was lifted in 1934 when it was noted as an emetic, but certainly not an aphrodisiac. Can you believe that? An emetic?? I will admit, it’s a bit smutty. If you are sensitive to lascivious talk then this probably isn’t a book for you.

Did you know that Ulysses is the Latinised name of Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s epic poem Odyssey, and the novel establishes a series of parallels between the poem and the novel? (Wikipedia) I went into this book not knowing this piece of information but somewhere in the beginning I figured this out.

Did you know that it was originally published as a serial publication in the magazine The Little Review? My copy of the book did not include the episode titles so every time I saw a particular episode mentioned somewhere, I had a really hard time finding it in my copy. I was aware of the serial publication but I wish I had purchased a book that contained those titles. My copy only separated Parts I, II and III. There were no breaks between episodes so I could not tell when a new one had started.

Even with all the obstacles noted, this is a book that will stay with me for a long, long time. While reading it at work I was surprised at how many people showed an interest in it. My copy has already been loaned out to a colleague. I can’t wait to hear her thoughts.

Here are the read-along breakdowns in case you’re interested:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

This article from The Economist is rather interesting and might encourage you to give it a go.

What other BEAST might I want to tackle? Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.