Reviews: The Earlies, Part 7

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Intelligent, witty, wry.. very enjoyable – though I think I still prefer one of her earlier novels, Northanger Abbey. While Pride and Prejudice is constructed and delivered, it lacks the brazen satire and social commentary (or condemnation) from Northanger Abbey. Still, very enjoyable.

The History Boys by Alan Bennet

Very clever and fun, yet sad play about education, coming-of-age, and growing old. A commentary on the dissolution of the classic ideas of “mentor-apprentice” relationship. Painful as well as heart-warming. Oh, and the movie was very well done, also. Give this play a read – it might just open you up a bit.

Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time by Fanny Fern

Absolutely brilliant and hilarious. It’s a shame that this novel is not better known – especially to those interested in 19th centrury American literature (think Hawthorne, Thoreau, Fuller, etc.) Definitely recommended.

Little Chicago by Adam Rapp

Interesting and disturbing novel – typically Adam Rapp. The main character, Blacky, and his little brother are cleverly and engagingly developed. Three stars.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

One of Jane Austen’s earlierst works, Northanger Abbey is absolutely hilarious. She satirizes almost every politcal, social, and literary convention of the time. There are quite a few grammatical/textual errors and/or inconsistencies, but that’s what makes reading a great author’s early work so much fun – and the Norton edition provides excellent corrections and explanatory notes. In Northanger Abbey, you’re literally watching Austen test her limits and assert her prowess. In fact, on page 116 I wrote in the margin: “She’s flexing!” Loved it.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

This book seemed, to me, better classified as a philosophical novel than as literature. However, I can see how it would fall into the literature field, due to its profound impact on not just academia, but general readers. Conrad examines the nature of the soul.. and leave us with the bitter conclusion that goodness is not necessarily natural, but taught – and, without our social structures and guilt-driven propriety… would we not, in isolation, all become monsters? Savages? Very intriguing.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

I never attempted this book because, in high school, I was told by friends that it was a bit of a tough read. Maybe dry or uninteresting. But I just picked it up the other day and roared through it in two nights. This book is beautiful. It will probably become one of my favorites. I suppose it’s especially good for lovers of literature. Go read it.

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