The Classics Club – December Meme Question #17

What is your favourite classic book?

A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard

Being a lover of the classics it is impossible for me to pick just one book. There are a few dozen that come to mind, all with special memories.  It is like trying to choose a favourite from among your children.  So instead, I am going to choose my favourite classic book from this year: 2013.

And the winner is:

Dante Alighieri’s epic work, The Divine Comedy, was just amazing in its scope. This was my first read, so I spent much of my time attempting to familiarize myself with the various historical figures and allusions.  I plan a re-read in another couple of years.  This time I read the translation by John Ciardi that, while not the best one for sticking to original content, apparently conveys the “flavour” of Dante the best of all the translations.  Next time I will probably try the Mandelbaum translation which is more balanced in content.  Dorothy Sayers’ translation intrigues me as well but she sacrificed content for form, so it is not one of the higher recommendations.

Honorable mentions go to:

The House of Mirth was a surprise star for me this year.  Wharton’s masterful handling of the character of Lily Bart captured my respect and admiration.  She paints on the surface, a scheming, artful coquette who is, in spite of her humble origins, at ease in fashionable society, yet underneath we get glimpses of a purity and innocence that seem impossible given her experiences.  The story unfolds into a poignant and tragic ending which left me speechless yet anticipating my next Wharton read.

What can one say about Pride and Prejudice?  I usually read it at least once every two years and enjoy it just as much each time.  Lizzy’s spunky character and her ability to mold Darcy’s prideful reserve into to a more mellow and empathetic character is an entertaining read, and the cast of supporting characters is outstanding!  A true classic!