Tuesday, 4 March 2014

What Is Your Favourite Classic Period

The Classics Club hosts a monthly meme question.

This month the question comes from Dale and is "What is your favourite classic period and why?"

It's hard for me to pin down a favourite period as I've been known to become obsessed about quite a few literary periods over the years!

I've had Russian obsessions, flings with the French (esp Revolutionary France) and a re-occurring love affair with the 1920's jazz age & art deco. I've been tempted by the Ancient Greeks, mesmerised by turn of the century New York and comforted by the 1800's family saga. I'm forever obsessed with Holocaust & slavery literature (& many other war classics) as I try to understand man's inhumanity to man.

I have several authors I fall back on in times of need - Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, L.M. Montgomery, Edith Wharton, Harper Lee & John Wyndham, Charlotte Bronte to name a few.

There are oodles of authors that I remember fondly & hope to read again or read more of their works soon - Wilkie Collins, George Eliot, John Galsworthy, George Sand, Boris Pasternak, Barbara Pym, Richard Yates, Henry James, F Scott Fitzgerald, Evelyn Waugh, Thomas Hardy, E.M. Forster, Emile Zola, Charles Dickens, Nancy Mitford, A.S. Byatt, Salman Rushdie, Alice Walker & Wallace Stegner.

I'd love to explore more Australian classics and I love to revisit childhood classics.

But one favourite period??

By pure force of numbers the winner of the favourite label would have to be 1800's England.

I've read and re-read so many authors from this period that I feel right at home in austere drawing rooms, horse drawn carriages & crinoline petticoats!

There is a familiarity in the lives of the characters. I can see the connections from them to me. Their world is threaded to mine by a series of historical leaps. I can imagine myself in their lives. I can feel myself embedded in the story in a way that is not so easy with other periods of time.

The other classical periods fascinate me because of their distance and exoticness.
Their differences are intriguing and alien and unknown. I strive to understand. I am curious, bewildered and amazed. I love the challenges and the new understandings and the leaps of faith required in these others periods.

But after travelling far and wide there is nothing more comforting than finally sleeping in your own bed & eating a home cooked meal!

I am at home in the 1800's. I return there for comfort & ease. When my mind is too busy, my heart too full & my soul needs soothing I return to the tried and true.

Do you have a favourite period of literature that you feel at home in?

6 comments:

  1. This is true: with so many great classics to choose from, it is difficult to zero in on one particular favorite literary period. I can see how a certain mood or feeling in one's personal life could change her desire for one style over another from time to time.

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  2. I love the way you compare your favorite period to returning home! That's exactly the way I feel! Especially about Hemingway and Fitzgerald. I've enjoyed quite a few books set in 1800's England, also, though. I just discovered George Eliot last year and am looking forward to reading more of her work. Dickens and Hardy have been my "home away from home" from time to time, too.
    -Dale

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  3. This is a really tricky question. My favourite period spans 1860-1940 and covers several different movements. But then I love the entirety of the Victorian period and the Ancient Greeks...Feeling at home in a particular period is wonderful and I think the 1800's is a brilliant period to feel at home in!

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    1. Like you I enjoy many different eras, periods and genres. I had to find some criteria to separate out a favourite - hominess/comfort read one out!

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  4. I know just what you mean about feeling at home, I feel like I would fit in beautifully if I plonked down in the 19th century. However, when I watched Lost in Austen I realised I hadn't considered things like toilets, toothpaste, feminism. Argh!

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    1. Lost in Austen was a wonderful show wasn't it? And you're right, I wouldn't actually like to live in those times either,but they are so familiar and comfy some how (from a distance!)

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