The Classics Club – The Beginning

After my recent musings on what I’m reading, it seems appropriate to embark on a challenge to help me remember to actually live up to my own goals. Sure, I have project lists, but I haven’t even touched on a couple of them since the moment I hit “publish.” Enter The Classics Club, the brainchild of Jillian. It is both an opportunity to share with others about classics and a self-challenge. The goals, the time-frame, the lists, are our own. It seems the perfect way to push myself to stick to my goals, and most importantly, finally get to those books I keep saying “I’m going to read that…”

First, what is meant by Classic? We are allowed to define it for ourselves, and so I again return to Calvino:

A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.

That’s it. No date limitations, just an attempt to seek out those books that either historically have been deemed worthwhile or that I feel could add value to my own reading—again and again.

My aim is to read all of the works that follow within five years from today. I will allow myself to swap books out if something isn’t working or if I decide to read the rest of an author’s oeuvre. It’s difficult to say where I might be in five years, what I might what to read, how much time I’ll even have, but I think the list that follows is a balance of styles, eras, and difficulties, and will be just challenging enough.

Target Date: March 10, 2017

  1. Homer: The Iliad (c. 8th century BCE)
  2. Homer: The Odyssey (c. 8th century BCE)*
  3. Hesiod: Works and Days & Thoegony (c. 8th-7th century BCE)
  4. Aeschylus (Aiskhulos): Plays
    1. Agamemnon (458 BCE)
    2. The Libation Bearers (458 BCE)
    3. The Eumenides (458 BCE)
  5. Sophocles (Sophoklēs): Plays
    1. Antigone (c. 442 BCE)*
    2. Oedipus Rex [Oedipus the King] (c. 429 BCE)*
    3. Oedipus at Colonus (c. 406 BCE)
  6. Euripides: Plays
    1. Alcestis [Alkēstis] (438 BCE)
    2. Medea [Mēdeia] (431 BCE)*
    3. Hippolytus (428 BCE)
    4. Electra [Ēlektra] (c. 420 BCE)
    5. Trojan Women [Troades] (415 BCE)
    6. The Bacchae (405 BCE)
  7. Carson, Anne, translator: An Oresteia (5th century BCE)
  8. Aesop: Fables (c. 5th century BCE)
  9. Virgil: The Aeneid [Aeneis] (29-19 BCE)
  10. Ovid: Metamorphoses ( 8)*
  11. Anonymous: Beowulf (between 8th-11th centuries)
  12. Anonymous: The Poem of the Cid [El Cantar del Mio Cid] (12th century)
  13. Chaucer, Geoffrey: The Canterbury Tales (1380s)
  14. Montalvo, Garci Rodríguez de: Amadis of Gaul [Amadis de Gaula] (1508)
  15. Camões, Luís Vaz de: The Lusiad (1572)
  16. Shakespeare, William: Plays
    1. The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1589-91)
    2. Taming of the Shrew (1590-91)
    3. Titus Andronicus (1592)
    4. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595)*
    5. Much Ado About Nothing (1598-99)*
  17. Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de: Don Quixote (1605, 1615)
  18. Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de: Three Exemplary Novels (1613)†§
  19. Bunyan, John: The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678)
  20. Defoe, Daniel: Robinson Crusoe (1719)
  21. Swift, Jonathan: Gulliver’s Travels (1726)
  22. Walpole, Horace: The Castle of Otranto (1765)
  23. Burney, Fanny: Evelina (1778)
  24. Radcliffe, Ann: The Italian (1797)
  25. Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von: Faust I, Faust II (1808, 1832)
  26. Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice (1813)*
  27. Austen, Jane: Persuasion (1818)*
  28. Hugo, Victor: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831)
  29. Poe, Edgar Allan: Tales of Mystery and Imagination (1830s-40s)
  30. Brontë, Anne: Agnes Grey (1847)
  31. Gaskell, Elizabeth: Mary Barton (1848)
  32. Dickens, Charles: Bleak House (1853)
  33. Gaskell, Elizabeth: Cranford (1853)
  34. Trollope, Anthony: The Warden (1855)
  35. Melville, Herman: The Piazza Tales (1856)
  36. Trollope, Anthony: Barchester Towers (1857)
  37. Dickens, Charles: A Tale of Two Cities (1859)
  38. Collins, Wilkie: The Woman in White (1860)
  39. Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Marble Faun (1860)
  40. Dickens, Charles: Great Expectations (1861)*
  41. Hugo, Victor: Les Misérables (1862)
  42. Gaskell, Elizabeth: Wives and Daughters (1865)
  43. Tolstoy, Leo: War and Peace (1869)
  44. Verne, Jules: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870)
  45. Eliot, George: Middlemarch (1871-72)
  46. Tolstoy, Leo: Anna Karenina (1877)
  47. James, Henry: The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Fiction (1878-1908)‡
  48. James, Henry: The Portrait of a Lady (1881)
  49. Zola, Émile: Germinal (1885)
  50. Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The Sherlock Holmes stories & novels (1887-1927)
    1. A Study in Scarlet (1887, Scotland)
    2. The Sign of Four (1890, Scotland)
    3. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892, Scotland)
    4. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894, Scotland)
    5. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902, Scotland)
    6. The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905, Scotland)
    7. The Valley of Fear (1915, Scotland)
    8. His Last Bow (1917, Scotland)
    9. The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927, Scotland)
  51. Hardy, Thomas: Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891)
  52. Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)*
  53. Wells, H. G.:The Time Machine (1895)
  54. Dreiser, Theodore: Sister Carrie  (1900)
  55. Conrad, Joseph: Heart of Darkness (1902)
  56. Wharton, Edith: The House of Mirth (1905)
  57. Galsworthy, John: Forsyte Saga (1906-1929)
  58. Forster, E. M.: A Room with a View (1908)
  59. Lawrence, D. H.: Sons and Lovers (1913)
  60. Unamuno, Miguel de: Mist [Niebla] (1914, Spain)
  61. Joyce, James: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)
  62. Fitzgerald, F. Scott: The Great Gatsby (1925)*
  63. Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway (1925)
  64. Kafka, Franz: “Metamorphosis” (1915) and The Trial (1925)
  65. Cather, Willa: Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927)
  66. Arlt, Roberto: Seven Madmen [Los siete locos] (1929, Argentina)
  67. Faulkner, William: “The Bear” (1942) and As I Lay Dying (1930)
  68. Huxley, Aldous: Brave New World (1932)
  69. Dinesen, Isak (Karen Blixen): Out of Africa (1937)
  70. du Maurier, Daphne: Rebecca (1938)
  71. Steinbeck, John: The Grapes of Wrath (1939)*
  72. Hemingway, Ernest: For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)
  73. Wright, Richard: Native Son (1940)
  74. Green, Henry: Loving (1945)
  75. Orwell, George: Animal Farm (1945)
  76. Waugh, George: Brideshead Revisited (1945)
  77. Asturias, Miguel Ángel: The President [El Señor Presidente] (1946)
  78. Carpentier, Alego: Kingdom of This World [El reino de este mundo] (1949)
  79. Orwell, George: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)
  80. Bradbury, Ray: The Martian Chronicles (1950)
  81. Asimov, Isaac: Foundation Trilogy (1951-53)
  82. Ellison, Ralph: Invisible Man (1952)
  83. Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Isayev: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1952)
  84. Steinbeck, John: East of Eden (1952)
  85. Baldwin, James: Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953)
  86. Tolkien, J. R. R.: The Lord of the Rings (1954-56)*
  87. Nabokov, Vladimir: Lolita (1955)
  88. Kerouac, Jack: On the Road (1957)
  89. Spark, Muriel: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)
  90. Borges, Jorge Luis: Ficciones (1962)
  91. Vargas Llosa, Mario: The Time of the Heroes [La ciudad y los perros] (1962)
  92. Cortázar, Julio: Hopscotch [Rayuela] (1963)
  93. García Márquez, Gabriel: Cien años de soledad [One Hundred Years of Solitude] (1967)*§
  94. Dick, Philip K.: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
  95. Vonnegut, Jr., Kurt: Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)
  96. McCarthy, Cormac: Suttree (1979)
  97. Walker, Alice: The Color Purple (1982)
  98. García Márquez, Gabriel: Love in the Time of Cholera [El amor en los tiempos del cólera] (1985)
  99. Morrison, Toni: Beloved (1987)
  100. Bolaño, Roberto: 2666 (2004)

* Indicates a reread.
† Vicente Llorens, ed., 1964. Includes El Licenciado Vidriera, El Casamiento Enganoso, and El Coloquio de los Perros
‡ Includes The Turn of the Screw, Daisy Miller*, Washington Square, The Beast in the Jungle, and The Jolly Corner
§ I hope to read in Spanish

28 thoughts on “The Classics Club – The Beginning”

  1. EXCELLENT list, Amanda. I’m excited to see so many titles I’m planning to read in your plans, too. We can compare notes. 🙂 And A Tale of Two Cities? SUCH a good book.

    I’m glad you’ve joined!!

    1. Thanks! You don’t want to know how long it took me to get through this list… 🙂 I knew that more than 100 (perhaps more than 50, ha) is pushing it, but trying to limit it down is hard!

      1. I feel like I’ve pushed myself too, but we might as well try right? We can always extend to six years – ha!

        (Don’t forget to join & let people know about your list: )

  2. That’s a really great and ambitious list, Amanda! I especially love your Siglo de Oro selection (and in fact, your whole Siglo de Oro project). Can’t wait to see how you get on – good luck!

    1. Possibly overambitious, but I’m excited about it. I’m hoping this will finally get me started on the Siglo de Oro project (instead of just talking about it). Thanks!

    1. Thanks! I think there are a lot of common classics to these lists–it will be fun both to see what others think about the same books and to learn about lesser known classics.

      I will check that out!

  3. Wow, what a list! I am looking forward to see how you are doing, even though it is a long term project (and you are right to set five years as preliminary time frame).

    1. Ha, I think it’s five years as a minimum. I think it will be fun, though, and most importantly will keep me reading the books I’ve been meaning to read (or reread) forever.

  4. Wonderful list! I’m so happy to see so much Ancient Greek works in it. The Odyssey is one of my all-time favorite books, and I love Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides so much. I also love the focus on some of Latin American literature. Cortázar, Borges, García Márquez and Vargas Llosa are all incredible. I’d also recommend you some of Ernesto Sábato’s work.

    1. Thanks! I was already planning on reading some of the Greeks this year, so it was a natural addition. Latin American lit is one of my newest interests–it seems every time I see a readalong for a Latin American work I have to join in–so I’m really excited about those. I’ve read some García Márquez which I really enjoyed. I’m not familiar with Sábato–do you have any recommendations?

  5. Wow, that’s a lot of Greeks you have there! I’m so pleased to see Beowulf and Chaucer on your list too, as they’re two of my favourites.

    1. Yeah, one of my goals for 2012 was to make some headway with the ancient Greeks. I’m looking forward to Chaucer especially, as it’s one of my dad’s favorites (and one of the few books he’s read more than once).

  6. Great list, Amanda, and I’m really happy to see Robertos Arlt and Bolaño on there (among many others) amongst all the other titans. Although I don’t feel like much of a blogging “joiner” these days, I admit that the Clasics Club is one idea where I’m really tempted to join in. You were the first to post on this from my “inner circle” of bloggers, but it’s been fun looking at the various lists others have drawn up as well. Anyway, happy reading to you–not that you’ll need any luck with this selection. Cheers!

    1. Thanks! There are so many of the “titans” I want to read, but I also really wanted to get to more Spanish-language reading. (And the flexible definition of “classic” helps here!) I’ve been enjoying reading the lists too. It’s especially fun to see lists that include less well-known books.

  7. I think Calvino’s definition of a classic is about as good as it gets. Thanks for posting that.

  8. Ooh your list is exciting! I am just getting going on The Forsyte Saga, and theres a few others we’ve both got on the list. I’ve never read anything as ‘classic’ as the ancient greeks so looking forward to hearing what you make of them!

    1. Thanks! I’ve read some of the ancient Greeks before (thanks to school), so I have an idea of what I’m getting into, but it will be interesting to see how I react to them now after being out of school for so long.

  9. Have fun with your list! I might consider doing it too except I have a suspicion my next five years are going to be quite packed. Maybe I’ll do it when I’m retired! 😉

    1. Thanks, Carissa! I’ve actually only been making my way VERY SLOWLY through this list, so I’m quite certain I won’t finish on time. But that just means all the longer to spend with good books. (If only I didn’t have even more books I could put on the list!)

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