There’s something about the frenzied vigor of snowflakes, shopping outings, and journeys back home, that make us want to take a break and curl up with a good book. The classics are always a perfect pick for a good read during the holiday season. We compiled some of the best books from American literature to read when you’re looking to escape into a story. Which is your favorite?
By Kirsty Doole
This month’s Oxford World’s Classics reading list celebrates St Andrew’s Day by highlighting some of the great Scottish classics we have in the series. From the gothic tale of Jekyll and Hyde to Burns, and the philosophy of David Hume, there is hopefully something for everyone here. But have we missed out your favourite?
By Judith Luna
Actually, editing classics is just what I don’t do. My job can be a bit of a mystery to people who wonder whether I rephrase the occasional Jane Austen sentence, or improve Virginia Woolf’s punctuation. Most days I am looking for living authors, not dead ones: the editors and translators who are responsible for the introductions and notes, and who actually do make decisions about how best to present the texts for modern readers.
By Fiona Robertson and Anthony Mellors
Closely associated with a group of writers dedicated to refashioning American fictional style, and with his roots in journalism and popular entertainment, Crane produced in his Civil-War tale The Red Badge of Courage an uncompromisingly spare modern account of the first-hand experience of battle.
By Michael R. Katz
In his classic study Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics (1929), the literary theorist, scholar, and philosopher of language, Mikhail Bakhtin included a brilliant “exercise” in literary “what-ifs.” In the chapter entitled “The Hero in Dostoevsky’s Art,” Bakhtin analyzes as a characteristic example of the Leo Tolstoy’s “monologic manner” and poses the following question
By Peter Miles
First, a word to Google. Dead people do not have birthdays. I hate to be a party-pooper in the eyes of any zombies still celebrating Halloween, but Google will insist on informing me that today is Nietzsche’s 169th birthday or the 143rd birthday of the chap who first put a metal strip in a banknote or the 158th birthday of the Czech inventor of the bicycle seat — when it never is.
Fancy a spot of ghost hunting? Try to ignore the hairy hand in the corner of your eye and curl up with M.R. James this Halloween. Darryl Jones, editor of the Oxford World’s Classics edition of The Collected Ghost Stories of M.R. James, provides an excellent guide to his strange imagination and menace. Join Jones in the Trinity College Dublin Library to discuss James’s life and work.
By Lizzie Shannon-Little
What better way to send shivers down your spine this Halloween than to curl up with a spooky tale? These Classics have been putting the frighteners on people for quite some time, and we’ve got the collywobbles just thinking about them.
By Jerome Loving
More than a century ago, on October 25, 1902, we lost a major novelist by the name of Frank Norris, author of McTeague: A Story of San Francisco (1899). Like Stephen Crane, he died in his prime, but not before writing at least one of the great American novels in the naturalist tradition of Thomas Hardy and Theodore Dreiser.
By Claude Rawson
Jonathan Swift, whom T. S. Eliot called “colossal,” “the greatest writer of English prose, and the greatest man who has ever written great English prose,” died on 19 October 1745.
By Jill L. Levensen
In its fall preview issue for 2013 (dated 2-9 September), New York magazine lists Romeo and Juliet with other films opening on 11 October 2013, and it comments: “Julian Fellowes (the beloved creator of Downton Abbey) tries to de-Luhrmann-ize this classic.” The statement makes two notable points.
By Eleanor Ty
In the early 1790s, Mary Hays was a rising writer who had published an Oriental tale, an essay on the usefulness of public worship, and, with her sister, produced a collection of essays on miscellaneous topics: romances, friendships, and improvements to female education. She admired and had befriended radicals Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, and was introduced to the circle of London intellectuals in the 1790s.
By Judith M. Brown
The global media has, in recent months, brought to the attention of a world audience the prevalence of violence against women in India. The horrific rape of a woman student, returning home after watching an early evening showing of The Life of Pi, in Delhi in December 2012, and the subsequent trial and conviction of her drunken and violent attackers, has led to considerable comment about violence against women.
By Brian Nelson
Émile Zola’s main achievement was his twenty-volume novel cycle, Les Rougon-Macquart (1871–1893). The fortunes of a family, the Rougon-Macquart, are followed over several decades. The various family members spread throughout all levels of society, and through their lives Zola examines methodically the social, sexual, and moral landscape of the late nineteenth century.
By Michael Newton
“The trouble with you,” an old friend recently declared to me, “is that you have always been a conformist.” He meant that I had never undertaken that necessary radical break with my parents and their ideals and interests. Without such a generational rupture, it seemed to him, nobody could claim to be a fully independent, realised person. While he had been dropping acid and dropping (temporarily) out of college, I’d been reclining under a tree with John Keats. And surely there was nothing rebellious in that.
By John McWilliams
Cooper’s daunting, lifelong energies led him to venture down still other fictional paths, nominally imaginary but rendered realistic through trenchant social commentary. He experimented with unreliable first person narrative, with the biography of an inanimate object, with urban satire, with the beast fable (The Monikins), and with dystopian fiction (The Crater).