Posts Tagged ‘Classics Challenge’


I had participated in Trish’s Classics Challenge 2009 and my level of entry was Classics Entree  where I had to read 5 classics. I must tell you that it was great fun reading classics because they are my favourite genre . Here’s the completed list.

1. Vanity Fair by William Thackeray

2 Lady Susan by Jane Austen

3 Silas Marner by George Eliot

4 Journey To The Center Of The Earth – Jules Verne

5 Iliad – Homer

Book : Iliad ( Penguin Classic Deluxe Edition) by Homer  ( Translation by Robert Fagles and Bernard Knox)

Category : Classics

Protagonist: Too many to list 🙂

Summary of the book :from the publisher’s website ( Don’t even ask me to summarize. It took me days to read this one .If not for this beautiful translation I would have been lost. Seriously )

The Iliad is the first and the greatest literary achievement of Greek civilization – an epic poem without rival in the literature of the world, and the cornerstone of Western culture.

The story of the Iliad centres on the critical events in the last year of the Trojan War, which lead to Achilleus’ killing of Hektor and determine the fate of Troy. But Homer’s theme is not simply war or heroism. With compassion and humanity, he presents a universal and tragic view of the world, of human life lived under the shadow of suffering and death, set against a vast and largely unpitying divine background. The Iliad is the first of the great tragedies.

Things I liked about this book:I had boldly signed up for  the Centuries Challenge where I had listed this book as one of my selections. I went to the library and asked for it. The librarian (she knows me well enough ) , gave me this look , the look  that was somewhere between surprise and sympathy. Surprise because I pick up YA , mysteries , chick lit from the library and sympathy because she could tell that I didn’t know what I was getting into.

I took me 30 minutes with the book to realise what I had done. I had got  the library’s oldest translation of Iliad. No offence to Iliad fans but I was lost . Then I had the sense of calling a friend who’s a major in literature and asking if there was an easily readable translation of  this great book. On her suggestion I got Penguin Classic  with translations by Robert Fagles and Bernard Knox.After that I sailed through. Took me a month to finish it though . Most important thing was I finished it.

The story of Final days of battle of Troy has been  told in a very beautiful manner. I had the 911 on Greek mythology after reading Percy Jackson and watching some movies like Helen Of Troy and Troy , so I was on safe grounds..

But now coming to the story , did I like it ? Tricky question.My answer , Yes and No

I was taken by the style  but this whole  Battle Of Troy scenario  has never impressed me . You might ask why. I ‘ll give you some of my reasons.

Achilles, Hector, Menelaus,Odysseus, Aias, were not just warriors they were men of valour and courage who fought a battle so long and so unnecessary(Trust me it was avoidable , but they had to keep the oath and all, so they fought) .Interference of Gods  was something I totally disliked . Could have let them fight their own battles for once( Gods being Gods had to meddle in this) .Good thing was ,these men  were immortalised by Homer  through this epic. This  blood bathed battle took  away so many years out of these mens lives , just think ..Is there anything to be happy about this story.

Even though I absolutely loved the writing  ,  I don’t always find that this story is  justified. This is  solely my opinion.And I know I will be criticised for criticising this immortal classic but it’s my opinion.

I am staying away from Greek Mythology for a few days. A month-long Iliad reading was all I could handle but that doesn’t stop me from recommending  this book, which I feel is a must read for anyone who loves literature.

Things I disliked about the book : Too many sub plots , too many characters . Too many things going wrong for everybody (exception – Gods )

Loved the writing style but  couldn’t disagree more with the plot .

On my rating scale : This is an excellent piece of literature for which I am not qualified enough to rate.

Challenges for which the book is listed : Centuries Challenge 2009

Classics Challenge 2009

Source : Borrowed from a friend (that reminds me , I need to thank her 🙂


Book : Journey To The Center Of The Earth by Jules Verne

Category : Classic , Science Fiction

Protagonist : Otto Lidenbrock

Summary of the book from Good Reads

As irascible scholar Professor Lidenbrock pores over a rare Icelandic tome, he discovers a scrap of parchment with cryptic writing tucked away between the ancient pages. And when his nephew, Axel, finally breaks the writing’s secret code, he learns of a hidden underground passageway that may lead deep into the center of the earth.

Despite Axel’s misgivings, he and the obsessed Lidenbrock travel to Iceland and, with a guide named Hans, set out on a perilous expedition in the course of which the trio will encounter an extraordinary new world of extinct yet living species, an underground sea, and gigantic, battling monsters.

Things I liked about this book:

This book was published in 1864 and the forward thinking Jules Verne conceptualised a plot that continues to enthrall readers of all age even to this day. It is a perfect balance of science and fiction . The fictionalization has been in everyplace accounted with facts that can at least partly explain the occurence. Writing this stuff in 1800 itself makes me wonder what kind of imagination Verne must have had.

The excitement is never-ending in this book. The well placed obstacles make it a fun reading as well as keep the story moving.

Most importantly, it was the book I read as a kid in form of Illustrated Classic. It was my first book in that series and has always remained a favourite. I really wanted to read the unabridged form but never got a chance until I landed up participating in the Classics Challenge 🙂

classics illustrated 1

This is the cover of my Illustrated Classic version of the book  [Googled for the image 🙂 ]

Things I disliked about the book : None

On my rating scale :4 out of 5

Challenges for which the book is listed : Classics Challenge 2009

Fill In The Gaps 100 Project

Lots and lots  of reviews  are pending (last count 25 ) and I needed a way to  get the job done , so I thought of this method. I had seen this format being used by Jenners in a  meme . I modified it a little to suit my reviews and here’s the result.


Book: Silas Marner by George Eliot

Category : Classic

Protagonist : Silas marner

Summary of the book : Silas Marner , a wrongly accused  weaver makes a new home for himself at Raveloe   and comes to acquire a small fortune which he guards very dearly. When he gets robbed of his treasure he feels that nothing good can ever happen in his life. Until a little girl with golden hair ends up on his door step. The girl whom he names Eppie becomes the centre of his life only to be brought face to face with a reality that  threatens to take Eppie out of his life.

Things I liked about this book:

The idyllic life of Raveloe and the daily musings of the inhabitants has been captured in a heart warming way by Eliot.

Silas’s love for his daughter Eppie and his transformation from a loner to an active member in the community.

Things I disliked about the book : Nothing in particular

On my rating scale :4.5 to 5

I wish I had read this book long time back as it was a pleasant change to read something with a slow pace and characters so real that you can actually imagine them going about their jobs in that fashion.

Challenges for which the book is listed : Classics Challenge 2009

Fill In The Gaps 100 Project

Vanity FairVanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray was the book I finished just before I signed up for Classics challenge. I had read it once during my schooldays but reading it now was really a fresh look at the theme.

The title aptly summarises the story.Vanity Fair according to the author ,symbolises the world with all its temptations ,pleasures and cunning deceptions.All that outwardly attracts but always deceives the one who falls prey to these attractions. He has shown his characters as men and women of pomp and show who are greedy , arrogant without any moral scruples.

The novel takes us through the lives of Amelia Sedley and Rebecca Sharp ,the two central characters, their journey through girlhood to womanhood, during the time when Napoleon Bonaparte was threatening the peace of Europe. These women are complete opposites.Amelia , an innocent, lovely, homely girl who thinks ill of none and Rebecca or Becky as she is called , beautiful, intelligent but a cunning go-getter.

Amelia belonging to a rich family never feels the want of wealth,she always considers love and friendship to the most important acquisitions of ones life. On the other hand Becky ,an orphan always dreams of wealth and power .As the story progresses Becky moves up on the social ladder with no scraps of morality left in her.Her concerns for her son and husband are nil in comparison of her love for power and status. Amelia on the other hand has a bad turn of luck and loses the one she loves the most and is left to care for her family which is bankrupt.What these women find in stored for them in the journey of life is the main plot of Vanity Fair.Though I would like to give a little more of the story line I feel that would remove the curiosity out of the readers who might venture to read it.

Thackeray had described the book as ‘novel without a hero’.Very Right.These women are more than enough to hold your attention. According to me Rebecca Sharpe Crawley is one of the most fascinating heroines you will find in literary history.Though not your ideal nice and sweet girl she still manages to stay in your mind even though the book is completed.Lovers of classics would find it a gripping read.I liked it though I am more of Austen genre..