Thursday, September 1, 2011

30 More Days Challenge: Day 23

Day 23: Favorite Classics


It some point in the 90’s I read several E.M. Forster novels--Howard’s End, A Room With a View, Maurice, and Where Angels Fear to Tread--one right after the other. My favorite turned out to be the last book in the pile, A Passage to India, written in 1924.

A Passage to India pits the British Raj and the Indian Independence movement against each other when a young British woman accuses a Muslim doctor of sexually assaulting her while on a group outing. The trial exposes the racial tensions of India and permanently changes the key players. It is a loaded, truly thought-provoking, beautifully written novel.

From Passage:

E.M. Forster
"'I have had twenty five years experience of this country'--and twenty five years seemed to fill the waiting room with their staleness and ungenerosity--'and during those twenty five years, I have never known anything but disaster result when English people and Indians attempt to be intimate socially.'"

Gianna loves Judy.
I really loved reading Forster and I wonder why he isn’t more widely read or even talked about. Could it be that they have made films of nearly all his books? No need to read him when excellent films were made? I loved the film version of Passage (can’t get enough of Judy Davis) but the novel really is something special. I could say the same thing about Howard’s End which I love love loved, but the book is so gorgeous.


I struggled with this category because I couldn't decide which direction I wanted to go with it.  Around the time I was a sophomore in high school, I realized that I would probably pursue an English major in college....and I realized that the education I received at Woodville High School might fall short in preparing me.  Don't get me wrong--I think that, given the resources available in a town with 2,500 people, the Woodville public school system was actually pretty strong.  There were some great, dedicated teachers who wove straw into gold.  Still, I knew that there were kids in other, better funded schools who were reading more than three books per year and would enter college better prepared.  And while the faculty at my school did their best, the student body was a different story.  My class was known for being hyper-competitive, but we didn't challenge each other to think and grow, we challenged each other to be whiny little shits.  Anyway, all of this is to say that throughout high school I read a ton of books from the great western canon, and quite a few of them I enjoyed.

Herman Melville
And yes, I am one of those people who loves Moby-Dick.  I'm fascinated by maritime history because of this book.  I'm a sucker for novels of obsession and psychological meltdowns because of this book.  I love American Lit based in part on my love of this book.  There's always talk of the "great American novel," and I think that Ahab's quest for the white whale and ultimate destruction just might be that book.  I actually have a framed copy of one of Rockwell Kent's iconic drawings for his gorgeous illustration of Moby-Dick hanging in my bedroom.  If I were stuck in the biodome for three years, I'd take this book with me.  I think it's beautiful.

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