Thursday, 31 December 2015

Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns, and some final 2015 thoughts.

Well here we are, the last day of 2015! What could be a more appropriate piece of writing to read today than Auld Lang Syne? It barely needs any introduction: it's a poem (and song) written by Robert Burns in 1788 and it's sung every new year when the clock strikes midnight. Despite knowing this song as long as I can remember I've never actually known what it meant, so partly for me and partly for anyone else who doesn't know either, here's the poem with a translation:

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Should old acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind?
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
and times long past ['old long since']


For auld lang syne, my jo,
For old times past, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
For old times past.
We'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
For old times past.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup!
And surely you'll buy your pint cup
And surely I’ll be mine!
And surely I'll buy mine!
And we’ll tak' a cup o’ kindness yet,
And we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
For old times past.


We twa hae run about the braes,
We two have run about the hills,
And pou'd the gowans fine;
And picked the daisies fine;
But we've wander’d mony a weary fit,
But we've wandered many a weary foot
Sin' auld lang syne.
Since old times past.


We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
We two have paddled in the stream
Frae morning sun till dine;
From morning sun 'til dinner;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
But broad seas between us have roared
Sin' auld lang syne.
Since old times past.


And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And there's a hand, my trusty friend,
And gie's a hand o’ thine!
And give me your hand,
And we'll tak' a right gude-willie waught,
And we'll take a right good-will draught (drink)
For auld lang syne.
For old times past.



And so I'm going to spend the last few hours of 2015 doing chores I couldn't bear to bring with me into 2016! 2015 has been a remarkably tough year - death, illness, arguments, unpleasantness - and the new year will begin without some much loved familiar faces. But it was not without some good in it: some real good and happiness, however dark it got. I am grateful what I do have, so very grateful. With the pain brought from 2015 and what was lost, I think we were brought closer together, and for that I am thankful. Certain events, especially politically and on a world-wide scale have been divisive, but I firmly believe in the old saying 'united we stand, divided we fall'. Globally there's been much fear, and then Islamophobia from people who believe Daesh's rhetoric that they are actually Muslims (despite much evidence to the contrary), and who do not have faith in Britain to deal with threat and who think it's better and easier to exclude refugees, particularly Muslims, from the United Kingdom. I hope in 2016 there are yet more people who show the Dunkirk spirit we're famous for, accept there's a war on, and get on with doing what is right and good. 

So, I'll tip my metaphorical glass to 2015's life lessons, to my dear and lovely boyfriend, my wonderful mum, my beautiful birds, and my friends and family, and I'll tip that metaphorical glass again in hope of a more peaceful and pleasant 2016! 

Happy New Year, everyone! ♡

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy.

How was it that I ever disliked this book? I remember respecting it when I first read it three years ago, but I didn't like it, and I think I recall finding it a bit of a drag. But not now, though - this is quite possibly my favourite Hardy thus far!

It was first published in 1874 (following A Pair of Blue Eyes, 1873), Thomas Hardy's fourth published novel and first great success, and it was even made into a film in Hardy's lifetime (1915; directed by Laurence Trimble and starring Florence Turner, Henry Edwards and Malcolm Cherry). And, as Hardy wrote in the 1902 preface, it was his first novel to explicitly mention "Wessex", which was an Anglo Saxon kingdom from around 519 A.D. until the 10th Century when England was unified by King Æthelstan (there is, though, currently an Earl of Wessex - Prince Edward). Far from the Madding Crowd would be set in 'South Wessex', which is now Dorset. Hardy explains,
In reprinting this story for a new edition I am reminded that it was in the chapters of "Far from the Madding Crowd," as they appeared month by month in a popular magazine [the 'Cornhill Magazine'], that I first ventured to adopt the word "Wessex" from the pages of early English history, and give it a fictitious significance as the existing name of the district once included in that extinct kingdom. The series of novels I projected being mainly of the kind called local, they seemed to require a territorial definition of some sort to lend unity to their scene. Finding that the area of a single county did not afford a canvas large enough for this purpose, and that there were objections to an invented name, I disinterred the old one. The press and the public were kind enough to welcome the fanciful plan, and willingly joined me in the anachronism of imagining a Wessex population living under Queen Victoria;—a modern Wessex of railways, the penny post, mowing and reaping machines, union workhouses, lucifer matches, labourers who could read and write, and National school children. But I believe I am correct in stating that, until the existence of this contemporaneous Wessex was announced in the present story, in 1874, it had never been heard of, and that the expression, "a Wessex peasant," or "a Wessex custom," would theretofore have been taken to refer to nothing later in date than the Norman Conquest.
Detail of the Map of Hardy's Wessex showing South Wessex.
In it Hardy tells the story of Bathsheba Everdene who has inherited her uncles farm. She soon meets the local farmer Gabriel Oak, who is described in the opening lines of the first chapter: 
When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun.
His Christian name was Gabriel, and on working days he was a young man of sound judgement, easy motions, proper dress, and general good character. On Sundays he was a man of misty views, rather given to postponing, and hampered by his best clothes and umbrella: upon the whole, one who felt himself to occupy morally that vast middle space of Laodicean neutrality which lay between the Communion people of the parish and the drunken section,—that is, he went to church, but yawned privately by the time the congregation reached the Nicene creed, and thought of what there would be for dinner when he meant to be listening to the sermon. Or, to state his character as it stood in the scale of public opinion, when his friends and critics were in tantrums, he was considered rather a bad man; when they were pleased, he was rather a good man; when they were neither, he was a man whose moral colour was a kind of pepper-and-salt mixture.
He falls in love with Bathsheba, but she is capricious, a little vain, and she has a little of Madame Bovary in her, though she is very independent, able and willing to run her farm. He proposes and she rejects him, and then he is hit with disaster - all of his sheep are driven over a cliff by a young sheepdog. He is ruined, but Bathsheba takes him on as a shepherd and so they remain in each other's lives. Gabriel still loves her, but she also has another suitor - William Boldwood, another farmer, to whom she jokingly sends a valentine and he takes it seriously and he too proposes. She considers, knowing it would be a good match, but then enters the third suitor - the dashing Sergeant Frank Troy, almost (but not quite) the male equivalent of Bathsheba. It is he who she marries, but it is a tragically unsuitable match. She finds out about his gambling, and then the love of his life Fanny Robin.

Far from the Madding Crowd is a fantastically gripping novel. It's also quite subversive, for example in some of Bathsheba's observations. First, she reflects on her marriage and decides she must not walk away - because of society's rules and norms she is fated almost to suffer it:
It is only women with no pride in them who run away from their husbands. There is one position worse than that of being found dead in your husband's house from his ill usage, and that is, to be found alive through having gone away to the house of somebody else. I've thought of it all this morning, and I've chosen my course. A runaway wife is an encumbrance to everybody, a burden to herself and a byword—all of which make up a heap of misery greater than any that comes by staying at home—though this may include the trifling items of insult, beating, and starvation. Liddy, if ever you marry—God forbid that you ever should!—you'll find yourself in a fearful situation; but mind this, don't you flinch. Stand your ground, and be cut to pieces. That's what I'm going to do.
Then later,
It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs.
Hardy uses her essentially to remark on women in the late 19th Century - how her spirit (however unpleasant it could be at times, she wasn't bad) and independence was given up in marrying. That this may push readers out of their comfort zone makes the title rather ironic, as Lucasta Miller for The Guardian: the title Far from the Madding Crowd is a reference to Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (1751),
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
The novel is an unsettling read, even now, but not as dark as some of Hardy's later novels. There are great moments of light, warmth, and humour. To me, it feels like a bridge between his first published work, the comic How I Built Myself a House (1865) and his final and most shocking novel Jude the Obscure (1895).

To finish, illustrations from the 1874 edition published by Smith, Elder & Co. (vols. I & II).

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy.

1911 edition.
Resurrection (Воскресение) is Leo Tolstoy's final novel (first published in 1899) following Anna Karenina (1877 - 22 years prior), and it was my Classic Club Spin book. Despite having read War and Peace three times and Anna Karenina twice I'd never read any other Tolstoys, so this is a first dip into the 'less famous Tolstoys' section of literature - and not an easy dip, it must be said.

The novel wasn't unlike Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment from what I remember. It is a philosophical nature on the ideas of redemption, justice, injustice, war, crime, and man-made and divine punishment. Before the beginning of the novel, the protagonist Dmitri Ivanovich Nekhlyudov was in love with a maid however on his return from war he was a different man: desensitised and selfish. He seduces the maid, Maslova, she gets pregnant and leaves the house, and she ends up a prostitute. The next time he sees her, at the start of the novel, he is on the jury at her trial: she is accused of prostitution and murder, herself a different woman. He is deeply repentant and ashamed and wants to atone for his sins so he tries to help Maslova. By doing so he (and we) see the 'punishment side' of the Russian justice system: her court case, appeal, prison, and finally Siberia. The lack of humanity in the justice system was one of the targets of Tolstoy's novel, as was organised religion; it is dark, grim, disturbing, and at times confusing, but Tolstoy preaches of hope, love, and redemption.

Needless to say it is one heavy read, and not one of my more successful ones. I kept a tenuous grip at best and muddled through as best I could, but I felt I was greatly lacking from a little background knowledge and understanding. I think it's not one to be picked up lightly - it needs a great deal of attention, thought, and as I say background knowledge of the era and of Tolstoy.

Further reading

Monday, 28 December 2015

End Of Year Survey.

My 2015 Authors Cloud [created by Wordle]
It's getting close to that time to wrap things up a little! And what better way than Jamie's End of Year Survey!

Reading Stats -

Number Of Books You Read: 138
Number of Re-Reads: 60 (I'm surprised at that - not sure if it's a good thing!)
Genre You Read The Most From: Classic Novels

Best in Books -

1. Best Book You Read In 2015?

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book essay you read?
The New Realistic Novel by Samuel Johnson: I thought it might be a bit dry and dull and I was amazed at how much I enjoyed it and how readable it was!

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

 5. Best series you started in 2015?
The Theban plays (Oedipus RexOedipus at Colonus, and Antigone) by Sophocles.

 6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2015?
Samuel Johnson and Sophocles.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Basil by Wilkie Collins.

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
The Georgics by Virgil - I really struggled with it, I'd like another crack at it!

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2015?

The Day-Dream by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

11. Most memorable character of 2015?
Too many to narrow it down! Oedipus of Sophocles' Theban plays, Miranda from Picnic at Hanging Rock, Owen from The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, and Lady Glencora from Can You Forgive Her? spring immediately to mind.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?
Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford.

 15. Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?
Fielding being mentioned, Johnson exclaimed, 'he was a blockhead;' and upon my expressing my astonishment at so strange an assertion, he said, 'What I mean by his being a blockhead is that he was a barren rascal.' Bᴏsᴡᴇʟʟ. 'Will you not allow, Sir, that he draws very natural pictures of human life?' Jᴏʜɴsᴏɴ. 'Why, Sir, it is of a very low life. Richardson used to say, that had he not known who Fielding was, he should have believed he was an ostler. Sir, there is more knowledge of the heart in one letter of Richardson's, than in all Tom Jones. I, indeed, never read Joseph Andrews.' Eʀsᴋɪɴᴇ. 'Surely, Sir, Richardson is very tedious.' Jᴏʜɴsᴏɴ. 'Why, Sir, if you were to read Richardson for the story, your impatience would be so much fretted that you would hang yourself. But you must read him for the sentiment, and consider the story as only giving occasion to the sentiment.'
And also:
I never shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge, his cat: for whom he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the servants having that trouble should take a dislike to the poor creature.
Both from Boswell's Life of Johnson. I just thought they were funny! 

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
Madame Bovary and romantic fiction!

19. Favourite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Anne Howe and Clarissa Harlowe of Clarissa by Samuel Richardson.

20. Favourite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
The Legend of Good Women by Geoffrey Chaucer.

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford: I only read this because of a great review by one of my favourite bloggers Charlotte (who unfortunately isn't blogging any more, and I do miss her still!).

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

A fictional crush... I'm useless at these questions. I did like J from Three Men in a Boat from what I remember... That's the best I can do.

23. Best 2015 debut you read?
The most recent book I've read and reviewed on this blog is The Shining by Stephen King from 1977. I'm not so up to date here :)

24. Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Probably Herefordshire in The Diary of Rev. Francis Kilvert.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
The Frogs by Aristophanes, and also Three Men in a Boat, The Diary of a Pilgrimage, and The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow by Jerome K. Jerome.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
How I Built Myself a House by Thomas Hardy.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
The Golden Bowl by Henry James. Tedious wasn't the word.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?
Stung by Love: Poems and Fragments by Sappho.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Clarissa by Samuel Richardson.

Blogging / Bookish Life -

1. New favourite book blog you discovered in 2015?   
Kill Me If I Stop by FBT. I believe I found this blog looking up Zola things - there's a lot of classics, more obscure works, Russian literature, and European literature. I've been introduced to a lot of new-to-me titles as a result of reading this blog!

2. Favourite review that you wrote in 2015?  
I suppose The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?  
I have very few non-review posts I'm afraid! I can't think of any I could include.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I think Deal Me In was my favourite challenge, as for events... Probably the read-along of Sister Carrie hosted by Care, and also reading The Canterbury Tales with Cleo was a high point! 

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015? 
My best bookish moment was this Christmas: my boyfriend bought me an eight volume set of  The History of Sir Charles Grandison by Samuel Richardson from 1776! It's now my oldest book and I'm looking forward to reading it in January!

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year? 
Blogging about The Decameron by Boccaccio. By the time I felt I was losing the will to live I felt I was too committed to posting about it! One of my friends told me he read the posts, but only out of sympathy.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?   

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?   
I think most of my posts got more love than they deserved :)

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? 
Cogito Books in Hexham, Northumberland. It has an excellent classics section and very lovely staff. Oxfam Bookshop in Hexham is also very impressive (they both make me wish I lived near Hexham!), but I've been going there when I can for quite a while now.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? 
For the first time I managed to complete all my challenges!

Looking Ahead -

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?   
Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope. I intended to read his Palliser series this year but didn't get beyond the first book, Can You Forgive Her? 

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?   
The new translation of The Earth by Émile Zola (April '16), translated by Brian Nelson (I've loved all of his translations of Zola) and Julie Rose (whose translation of Les Misérables I very much enjoyed).

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?  
I'm yet to catch up with the 21st Century...

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?
I'm determined to read Trollope's Palliser series in 2016. Determined. I can't believe I didn't read it in 2015. 

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?  
Aside from reading Trollope, I want to finish my challenges and, I aim (a hopeful aim) to blog about one Shakespeare and Zola per month and one Greek or Roman play a week.

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone: 
Again, I'm not up to date, but without reading it I hereby recommend Nelson and Rose's translation of Zola's The Earth!


2015 is nearly over... All I have left blogging-wise is a review of Tolstoy's Resurrection (I'll do that tomorrow), and Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (which I haven't finished yet!). Until then a few domestic chores I want to finish before the new year. Can't believe it's nearly here!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter.

[source: smithsonianlibraries]
It's Christmas Eve! To mark the occasion I want to say a few words on Beatrix Potter's The Tailor of Gloucester, and of course share the lovely illustrations!

The Tailor of Gloucester was written as a Christmas story for the daughter of Beatrix's former governess Freda Moore in 1901. The tale was first published privately in 1902 then by Frederick Warne & Co in 1903. It's said to be based on a real story: John Pritchard, a tailor in Gloucester, was commissioned to make a suit for the mayor. He closed his shop on Saturday with the suit prepared but not stitched together. When he returned on Monday there the suit was - finished, sewn together, but with a note attached saying "No more twist". His assistants had completed the suit over the weekend, but Pritchard encouraged the legend that fairies had finished it.

And so Beatrix Potter heard the story, told to her by her cousin Caroline Hutton in 1894. She immortalised the story in The Tailor of Gloucester, in which tailor of Gloucester sends his cat Simpkin to buy some cherry coloured twist to finish a waistcoat for the wedding of the mayor. On Simpkin's return, he, Simpkin, finds that the tailor has released all the mice Simpkin had trapped under tea cups. In his anger, Simpkin hides the twist. Then the tailor falls ill and has to go home, unable to do his work. When he returns the next morning, convinced the mayor will not have his waistcoat, he finds all the work has been done by the mice except for one buttonhole, on which a note is pinned: "No more twist". Simpkin, feeling terrible, reveals he has the twist and thus the waistcoat is completed.

What is there left to say but Happy Christmas! I hope everyone has a lovely day, and I'll catch you all next week! 

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

2016 Challenges.

I think I've finally decided on my 2016 Challenges! I've been messing around with these lists for a fortnight now, but I do believe I'm done!

I'm participating in ten challenges:

  1. Reading England - Level 3 (my challenge): I'm trying to read some of the counties I didn't last year, though London and Berkshire are repeats.
  2. Reading Dorset - Level 2 (my challenge): A Thomas Hardy special!
  3. The Pickwick Papers Read-Along (my challenge): This will start in March, and if we stick to the schedule we'll be finishing Chapter 29 in December - about half of it.
  4. The 12 Month Classics Challenge (hosted by Lois Johnson): I love the categories, though I may well end up changing some of my titles. But I may not, I like what I've picked.
  5. Women's Classic Literature Challenge (hosted by The Classics Club): I've already started by reading Sappho for the 'Ancient' category. I hope to read the 'ages' I've listed in order, once a month, but I might switch them around a little.
  6. 2016 Mount TBR Reading Challenge - Pike's Peak: Read 12 books from your TBR pile/s (hosted by Bev Hankins): I've gone for the lowest level, but I have ambitiously included The Oresteia by Aeschylus. If I can read that, and also History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides I do believe I can read anything.
  7. #WoolfAlong (hosted by Heavenali): This is an amazing challenge - I'm so excited about this one! The only thing I've done is changed the reading for January - February, which was 'Getting started with a famous Woolf novel – To the Lighthouse or Mrs Dalloway'. I've read both of them very recently, so I'm going for The Waves, which is also a famous Woolf novel, though not as famous perhaps.
  8. Back to the Classics Challenge (hosted by Karen): I loved this one last year, again I do enjoy the different categories. I've struggled with 'A classic detective novel' (and have imaginatively gone for The Hound of the Baskervilles!) and 'An adventure classic' - for that I think I'll be going with Jules Verne.
  9. Ancient Greek Challenge (Level 5: 12+ texts) (hosted by Keely): I have very ambitiously listed 35 titles. I know this is a lot, but 1) I'm doing my own Ancient Greek and Roman Challenge (an ongoing one) and 2) I read over 60 Victorian classics last year for a challenge and managed that, so I'm hopeful I will manage this. I'd love to read a further 15 Roman works as well to help me progress with my own challenge, but we'll see about that... I'd be very pleased if I could read the 35 Greeks - very pleased. I'm thinking I'm going to start by aiming to read one per week.
  10. Deal Me In 2016 (hosted by Jay): this was, I think, my favourite challenge of 2015 so I'm very happy it's happening again this year! I've listed essays for hearts, poems for diamonds, plays for clubs, and short stories for spades.
And finally, here are my lists:

 1.  BerkshireThe Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare.
 2.  BristolEvelina by Fanny Burney.
 3.  County Durham: Rokeby by Walter Scott.
 4.  LincolnshirePamela, or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson.
 5.  London: The History of Sir Charles Grandison by Samuel Richardson.
 6.  NorfolkArmadale by Wilkie Collins.
 7.  NottinghamshireA New Way to Pay Old Debts by Philip Massinger.
 8.  StaffordshireThe Old Wives Tale by Arnold Bennett.
 9.  Tyne and WearThe Stars Look Down by A. J. Cronin.
10. WarwickshireAs You Like It by William Shakespeare.


    1. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
    2. The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy.
    3. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.
    4. The Trumpet-Major by Thomas Hardy.
    5. The Well-Beloved by Thomas Hardy.
    6. The Worm Forgives the Plough by John Stewart Collis.

    The Pickwick Papers Read-Along

    I –       March 2016 (chapters 1–2)
    II –     April 2016 (chapters 3–5)
    III –    May 2016 (chapters 6–8)
    IV –    June 2016 (chapters 9-11)
    V –      July 2016 (chapters 12–14)
    VI –    August 2016 (chapters 15–17)
    VII –   September 2016 (chapters 18–20)
    VIII – October 2016 (chapters 21–23)
    IX –    November 2016 (chapters 24–26)
    X –      December 2016 (chapters 27–29)

        January A classic you've always wanted to read: The History of Sir Charles Grandison by Samuel Richardson.
        February A classic you've always dreaded readingHistory of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides.
        March A classic you've been recommended: Heptaméron by Marguerite of Navarre.
        April A classic you've seen the movie/miniseries/TV show ofJude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy.
        May An American classicEast of Eden by John Steinbeck.
        June A British classicFelix Holt, Radical by George Eliot.
        July A European classic (non-British)Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man by Thomas Mann. 
        August A modern classicKeep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell.
        September A children's classicPuck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling.
        October A classic by a female author: The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein.
        November A classic by a male authorTess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.
        December A classic written under a pseudonymThe Father by Stendhal.

        Medieval - The Book of Margery Kempe by Margery Kempe.
        Renaissance - Heptaméron by Marguerite of Navarre.
        Neo-Classical - The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lennox.
        Romantic - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
        Early Victorian - Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell.
        Mid Victorian - Felix Holt, the Radical by George Eliot.
        Late Victorian - The Diary of Alice James by Alice James.
        Edwardian - Passionate Apprentice: The Early Journals, 1897-1909 by Virginia Woolf.
        First World War - Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain.
        Inter-War Period - The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein.
        Second World War - Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf.
        Post-Modern / Post War - Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

         1. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
         2. The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith.
         3. The Oresteia by Aeschylus.
         4. No Name by Wilkie Collins.
         5. A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland & A Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides by Samuel Johnson and James Boswell.
         6. Piers the Ploughman by William Langland.
         7. The History of Sir Charles Grandison by Samuel Richardson.
         8. Felix Holt, Radical by George Eliot.
         9. History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides.
        10. Virginia Woolf by Quentin Bell.
        11. The Diary of a Country Parson 1758 - 1802 by James Woodforde.
        12. The History of Rasselas by Samuel Johnson.


        January - February: Getting started with a famous Woolf novel The Waves.
        March - April: Beginnings and Endings Night and Day.
        May - June: Short Fiction The Mark on the Wall.
        July - August: Biographies Flush or Roger Fry.
        September - October: Essays The Common Reader.
        November - December: Another novel The Years.


        A 19th Century ClassicNo Name by Wilkie Collins.
        A 20th Century Classic:  The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett.
        A classic by a woman authorThe Waves by Virginia Woolf.
        A classic in translationLabour by Émile Zola.
        A classic by a non-white authorThe Monkey by Wu Ch'êng-ên.
        An adventure classic: Tom Jones by Henry Fielding.
        A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classicNews from Nowhere by William Morris.
        A classic detective novelThe Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle.
        A classic which includes the name of a place in the titleFrom London to Land's End by Daniel Defoe.
        A classic which has been banned or censoredAmores by Ovid.
        Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college)Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare.
        A volume of classic short storiesCandide and Other Stories by Voltaire.


        Ancient Greek Challenge (Level 5: 12+ texts)

        1. Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus.  
        2. The Suppliants by Aeschylus.
        3. The Persians by Aeschylus.
        4. Agamemnon by Aeschylus.
        5. The Libation Bearers by Aeschylus.
        6. The Eumenides by Aeschylus.
        7. Aesops Fables.
        8. Birds by Aristophanes.
        9. Lysistrata by Aristophanes.
        10. The Assemblywomen (Ecclesiazusae) by Aristophanes
        11. Wealth (Plutos) by Aristophanes.
        12. Alcestis by Euripides.
        13. Medea by Euripides.
        14. The Children of Heracles by Euripides.
        15. Ion by Euripides.
        16. The Women of Troy by Euripides.
        17. Helen by Euripides.
        18. The Bacchae by Euripides.
        19. Theogony by Hesiod.
        20. Works and Days by Hesiod.
        21. The Iliad by Homer.
        22. Old Cantankerous by Menander.
        23. Fragments by Menander.
        24. The Laws by Plato.
        25. Phaedrus by Plato.
        26. The Republic by Plato.
        27. Protagoras by Plato.
        28. Meno by Plato.
        29. Gorgias by Plato.
        30. Euthyphro by Plato.
        31. The Apology by Plato.
        32. Crito by Plato.
        33. Phaedo by Plato.
        34. Symposium by Plato.       
        35. History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides.  


        ♥ Essays ♥

        Ace: 'Rules' of Writing by Samuel Johnson.
        King: Why I Don't Write Plays by Thomas Hardy.
        Queen: The Strange Elizabethans by Virginia Woolf.
        Jack: The Dorsetshire Labourer by Thomas Hardy.
        Ten: The Duchess of Newcastle by Virginia Woolf.
        Nine: A Rural Tyrant by Samuel Johnson.
        Eight: The Novels of Thomas Hardy by Virginia Woolf.
        Seven: The Profitable Reading of Fiction by Thomas Hardy.
        Six: The Need for General Knowledge by Samuel Johnson.
        Five: On Not Knowing Greek by Virginia Woolf.
        Four: Candour in English Fiction by Thomas Hardy.
        Three: A Good Sort of Woman by Samuel Johnson.
        Two: How to Become a Critic [I & II] by Samuel Johnson.

        ♦ Poems ♦

        Ace: The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti.
        King: Isabella; or, the Pot of Basil by John Keats.
        Queen: Chamber Music by James Joyce.
        Jack: The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot.
        Ten: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge.
        Nine: Lycidas by John Milton.
        Eight: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake.
        Seven: Hyperion by John Keats.
        Six: The Phoenix and the Turtle by William Shakespeare.
        Five: The Philosopher by Emily Brontë.
        Four: Mariana by T. S. Eliot.
        Three: Kubla Khan by Samuel Coleridge.
        Two: Fancy by John Keats.
        ♣ Plays ♣

        Ace: The Shoemaker's Holiday by Thomas Dekker.
        King: The White Devil by John Webster.
        Queen: The Alchemist by Ben Johnson.
        Jack: Philaster by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher.
        Ten: Edward II by Christopher Marlowe.
        Nine: A Woman Killed with Kindness by Thomas Heywood
        Eight: All For Love by John Dryden.
        Seven: Salomé by Oscar Wilde.
        Six: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde.
        Five: Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde.
        Four: Exiles by James Joyce.
        Three: King Lear by William Shakespeare.
        Two: The Injustice Done to Tou Ngo by Guan Hanqing.

        ♠ Short Stories ♠

        Ace: The Attack on the Mill by Émile Zola.
        King: Micromegas by Voltaire.
        Queen: Kew Gardens by Virginia Woolf.
        Jack: Story of a Madman by Émile Zola.
        Ten: What Pleases the Ladies by Voltaire.
        Nine: Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street by Virginia Woolf.
        Eight: An Unwritten Novel by Virginia Woolf.
        Seven: Shellfish for Monsieur Chabre by Émile Zola.
        Six: The White Bull by Voltaire.
        Five: Moments of Being by Virginia Woolf.
        Four: Fair Exchange by Émile Zola.
        Three: Monday or Tuesday by Virginia Woolf.
        Two: Big Michu by Émile Zola.

        I'm so excited for 2016 now! 

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