I’ve been slacking a bit with my Questions, and I apologize. I know you guys love answering random questions on the internet!
Today’s Question is about “classic” literature, which is why I used the somewhat arbitrary date of 1914. World War I fucked up a lot, including the creative impulse, and I wanted to take away you nerds coming at me with Conan stories or a lot of 1930s science fiction. Hey, I left you Tarzan, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Haggard – still a lot of nifty pulp fiction if that’s your bag! I’m thinking of “classic” literature, obviously, but I’m not limiting it. If your favorite book from pre-1914 is Around the World in Eighty Days, let me know!
I haven’t read as much “classic” literature as I should, but as an English major, I’ve read my share. Some I like, some I don’t. I love War and Peace, for instance, which seems like it might be a slog, but I found amazing. I did not like Great Expectations too much, but I love Bleak House. I very much dig Wuthering Heights, which is a keen book. My favorite pre-1914 book, though, has been Heart of Darkness (1899) ever since I first read Heart of Darkness back in high school. It’s beautifully written, it’s mysterious and a bit creepy, it’s about something important but it’s also a good adventure story and a terrifying examination of power and corruption, and it’s still relevant, sadly (I read it to high-risk high school students in class once who did not do a lot of reading, and they were riveted). Everyone says Nostromo is Conrad’s best work, and Nostromo is a very good book, but Heart of Darkness hits me just right. It’s superb.
So, fellow readers of old stuff – what’s your favorite work of fiction from before 1914? Have at it in the comments!