Posts Tagged ‘favourite novels’

August favourites #10: American novel

August 10, 2018

51d54scC21L._AC_US218_Mark Twain was a brilliant writer. Tom Sawyer is a child’s fantasy with running away from home, outwitting grown-ups, a murder mystery, and finding a fortune, whereas the sequel of sorts, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn moves into the darker and more serious world where a child comes to realise that all is not perfect in the world, that grown-ups cannot always put everything to rights, or even be trusted to be acting in your best interests. Such a realisation comes to us all and is often scary; we realise we have to take some responsibility for our own destiny; we are faced by choices that are not simply black and white, and we have to live with them. I think Twain shows us this so well in this novel. I have no truck with those who think it’s racist because it uses certain words, and I think the moment when Huck humbly comes to acknowledge how he has been wrong in his behaviour to Jim is one of the most moving in all American literature.

I’m doing something different for the holiday month of August, writing about some of my favourites: poems, plays, music, art and other things, a short piece on a different topic each day. The categories are random, as are the choices within them, meaning that’s my favourite that day, and is subject to change… And I will try and explain why each choice is special for me. As always, I look forward to your comments.

August favourites #5: Jane Austen

August 5, 2018

Until I’d been compelled to study Mansfield Park at university, and therefore had to read Jane Austen for the first time, I’d – as a supercilious teenager – been dismissive of the very idea of reading her. Now, deeply familiar with all her novels, re-read and enjoyed (apart from the rather daft Northanger Abbey) multiple times, I still hesitate between Mansfield Park and Persuasion as her best. The latter I like because of the simplicity of the plot: true love wins out after all those years, and the tension in the final chapters is still gripping, because, despite his faults, I still want Wentworth to get Anne. Mansfield Park, on the other hand, contains so much, a treasure-chest of a novel that will never be empty, no matter how many times I read it: reflections on religion, parenting, slavery, social change in England, conservatism as well as radicalism. And that’s before you get to a host of interesting and complex characters, even if it’s hard to like very many of them… in the end, that has to be my favourite.

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