In his essay, “Why Read the Classics,” Italo Calvino writes: “There is nothing for it but for all of us to invent our own ideal libraries of classics. I would say that such a library ought to be composed half of books we have read and that have really counted for us, and half of books we propose to read and presume will come to count — leaving a section of empty shelves for surprises and occasional discoveries.” Although I read that essay just, well, yesterday — months after coming up with the harebrained idea to launch a project to read the classics — it seems like a very apt guide to this whole endeavor.
For The Classics Project 2011, I am not only looking forward to educating myself, to finding more about literature, to discovering little joys — and, I have made sure to go to Oxford World’s Classics for the world’s more known masterpieces, and to turn to the NYRB Classics for those masterpieces rescued from obscurity. I am quite mindful of building a collection, a modest library that will nonetheless give me utmost joy and, hee, smugness, whenever I gaze upon it. Two publishers, two different yet very distinct spines. I get the shivers just thinking about it.
I have been hoarding recently, to better equip me as I journey into worlds unknown. Here are the recent additions to the TBR Land Mass — I can’t wait for it to swallow me whole.
- Cassandra at the Wedding, by Dorothy Baker.
- The Long Ships, by Frans G. Bentsson.
- The Outward Room, by Millen Brand.
- Love in a Fallen City, by Eileen Chang.
- Grief Lessons: Four Plays, by Euripides.
- The Furies, by Janet Hobhouse.
- The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson.
- Memories of the Future, by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky.
- The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, by Brian Moore.
- The Wedding of Zein, by Tayeb Salih.
- Stoner, by John Williams.
- Memoirs of Hecate County, by Edmund Wilson.
- The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Armin.
- Journey into the Past, by Stefan Zweig.
Huh. There is an overwhelming amount of red there. So. Much gratitude to Jenie H., Astrid, Honey, my Aunt Anne, and the Filipino people [not to mention all you gracious souls who sign my paycheck every month] for making this all possible.
* * *
- The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë.
- Villette, by Charlotte Brontë.
- The Awakening and Other Stories, by Kate Chopin.
- Les Liaisons dangereuses, by Choderlos de Laclos.
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle.
- The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle.
- The Yellow Wall-Paper and Other Stories, by Charlotte Perkins-Gilman.
- The Complete Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault.
- The Mark on the Wall and Other Short Fiction, by Virginia Woolf.
Not pictured, because they’re in some box already [we’re moving!], and I’ll incite P.’s ire if I even dare burrow: The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Arthur Conan Doyle. The Lost World, by Arthur Conan Doyle. The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle. [I obviously won a Sherlock Holmes Twitter competition a while back, haha.] A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce. Dubliners, by James Joyce. [Well, I also have Ulysses, but dammit, I won’t read that, nope.]
As with the NYRB stack, these have been equal parts given, bought, slipped into purses. Much thanks to Kirsty D., and, as always, the gracious souls who sign my paycheck every month.
I am quite excited. I suppose I ought to be daunted, but cripes, I am thrilled in by bones. So many awesome books, the possibility of joyful discoveries and pleasant surprises! Wee.