Challenges / Classic Literature

The Classics Club Women’s Literature Survey

women's classicsLast fall the Classics Club started up a Women’s Classics Event that will run through 2016.  I’ve read a lot of the classics since I started blogging, and I’ve discovered some wonderful authors.  But I never feel I read enough classics by women, so I’m excited about this event.

This year I’m easing up on challenges, so this one and the Back to the Classics Challenge are the ones I’m going to concentrate on.  Here are some of the books I plan to read:

  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  2. Mrs. Dalloway or Orlando by Virginia Woolf
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  4. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  5. Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
  6. Ethan Frome or The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton
  7. Silas Marner or The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
  8. Classic Children’s Books by Astrid Lindgren, PL Travers, Maud Hart Lovelace, or E Nesbit

The Classics Club posted this survey to kick off the event.

Have you read many classics by women? Why or why not?  I can’t say I’ve read many, but maybe more than average? Some of the women I’ve read are the Brontes, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, Pearl S. Buck, Shirley Jackson, and Willa Cather. I haven’t read very many books by these authors though.

Pick a classic female writer you can’t wait to read for the event, & list her date of birth, her place of birth, and the title of one of her most famous works.  I hear Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain is amazing.  Brittain was born in 1893 in England and worked as a nurse in World War I.

Think of a female character who was represented in classic literature by a male writer. Does she seem to be a whole or complete woman? Why or why not? Tell us about her. I think Thomas Hardy is a great writer of women. Yes, some of his women come to unfortunate ends, but I love the characters of Eustacia Vye, Tess Durbeyfield, and Bathsheba Everdeen. They might not be “complete” but they are complex, strong, opinionated women.

Favorite classic heroine? I don’t know if she’s a favorite, but I was fascinated by Lily Bart from Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. Why? Lily is such an interesting character because she goes through so many changes during the course of the book, and really struggles to make the best of her situation without turning on others.

Recommend three books by classic female writers to get people started in this event. If you haven’t read them, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Middlemarch by George Eliot, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. But there’s so many good options! I’d add The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath if Middlemarch seems too daunting.

Will you be joining us for this event immediately, or will you wait until the new year starts? I’ve already started! In 2015 I reviewed Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Stella Gibbon’s Cold Comfort Farm.

Do you plan to read as inspiration pulls, or will you make out a preset list? I always like to have a list, but I look forward to seeing what others are reading. I’m not sure exactly which novels I want to read by Eliot, Wharton, and Woolf, I just know I want to read more of their books.

Are you pulling to any particular genres?  I mostly prefer novels.

Are you pulling to a particular era or location in literature by women? I tend to read the Victorian writers, but hope to have a bit more of a range for this challenge.

Do you hope to host an event or readalong for the group? I have never hosted a readalong but would love to co-host if someone’s interested in the same books!  I think a readalong of children’s classics would be a lot of fun.

Is there an author or title you’d love to read with a group or a buddy for this event? I would love to co-read something by Woolf, Eliot, or Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

Share a quote you love by a classic female author — even if you haven’t read the book yet.

‘If only we’d stop trying to be happy we’d have a pretty good time.’ – Edith Wharton

It seems like a frivolous quote but I believe that when we try to be happy, we tend to be the most dissatisfied.  People who have real challenges in life don’t even get to think about what it means to be happy.  But when we have time on our hands to think about happiness, as I often do, we make ourselves more unhappy.  I think (and I’ve read) we become happy only by striving to accomplish things and facing challenges.

6 thoughts on “The Classics Club Women’s Literature Survey

  1. I’m rereading Jane Eyre now. I got a folio society edition that is beautifully illustrated. I do love Jane Eyre. I like your list, many good ones on there.

  2. Pingback: TBT and Nerdy Finds | Absurdly Nerdly

  3. Ive pulled back from challenges too, and even though this was enticing I managed to resist. You have some good choices on your list. I have a few Woolf ones to read this year….

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