About a week ago, Saari of the blog Mangoes and Cherry Blossoms posted on her idea to begin a Classics Salon as a way for readers of classics to gather and chat, with the discussion prompted by a rotating series of questions that should apply to any books we’ve been reading, whether finished or not. I love this idea–for the relaxed nature, the allowance for the reader to be in the middle of something that makes it easy to participate, and it just seems so inspirational to me–Saari makes me want to get back to more serious reading. (Really, this slump has to end sometime…..)
I’m a day late this week–yesterday was a bit busy–, but I did want to participate.
What are your first impressions of the current classic you are reading?
Ah, I can’t really answer this about my current reading–all of the books I’m currently reading are either too new to be classics or rereads. Ahem. So I’ll go back to the last two, both of which I read (and blogged about) in January.
Treasure Island was in a sense a reread–my mom had read it to my brother and me when we were little. But I’d never read it for myself and didn’t remember much of the plot at all. I was surprised at how much time was spent early in the novel just getting to sea. With a title like “Treasure Island,” I would almost expect–and it would certainly be true, I think, of more recent novels–that the narrator/protagonist would be at sea almost in the first chapter. Mustn’t wait too long to get to the heart of the matter! But Stevenson knew his story–the adventure and suspense were there from the first page, and the background he set up in the opening part would prove to set the stage for the later sections of the novel.
What is interseting about this question–which I realize when I’m looking back at books I’ve already finished–is that word “first.” My first and last impressions of Pinocchio, another January read, were, I realize now, completely different. The first, though, what was my first impression…? I knew that it would not be like the Disney movie before I ever picked it up. Only a few chapters in, it seemed that it was a comedy. I recall–have in my notes–the fight between maestri Anotnio and Geppetto–they seemed like little kids in their behavior. And when Pinocchio ran away from Geppetto after first learning to walk, I thought that perhaps I was reading a picaresque novel. These were my first impressions. But as I said, I had a different view of the book by the end–where Treasure Island was consistent throughout, Pinocchio proved to be a much more complex novel. It’s interesting to contemplate how sometimes our first impressions can be spot on, but other times they are compelled by experience to change.
Thanks to Saari for hosting the Classics Salon! Check out her blog for her and others’ posts.