Classics Club Spin #27 ………….. And the Winner Is …..

Chess Piece

The Classics Club Spin #27 winning number is:

Number VI  !

Which means that I’ll be reading ….

The Merchant of Venice


Could it get any better?  Not only could you consider this choice a short read, it’s one of the books on my 20 Books of Summer list AND, of course, my Classics Club list.  So I’m very pleased.

Flower Petals Book

What about you?  Did you get a book that is short or long; one that you’re excited about or one that you dread?


Image #1 courtesy of Klimkin on Pixabay

Image #3 courtesy of Pezibear on Pixabay

34 thoughts on “Classics Club Spin #27 ………….. And the Winner Is …..

  1. Glad you got a choice that worked for you on multiple levels. My read of it back in ’19 was mostly good but the ending didn’t work for me. Looking forward to your thoughts on it all.

  2. Oh, good — I rather like this one (even though it has a few „iffy“ bits). I‘ll be curious what you‘ll make of it. „Side order” recommendation: the movie adaptation starring Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino and Joseph Fiennes.

    • I wonder about those “iffy bits”. I think I can order the movie from the library. I like either listening or watching a performance while I read so that will be perfect!

      • I think with this play it‘s important not to rush to judgement but to sit back and see things in perspective. (Always a good idea, of course, but here perhaps more so than elsewhere.) Listening to and watching different interpretations has definitely helped me do that.

  3. Congrats! Sounds like you hit the jackpot!
    I’ve never read this particular play myself, although I saw a pretty good production of it many years ago. It’s an interesting and problematical work and I’m eager to see what you make of it. One of my own projects was to read at least one play by Shakespeare every three months. After a few years of failure, I totally gave it up!
    Have you ever checked out the Hogarth Shakespeare series? It’s a re-telling/reimagining of the plays by modern authors. Howard Jacobson’s contribution was “Shylock Is My Name,” which your post has just inspired me to pull from the shelf. Jacobsen states that Merchant is “the most troubling of Shakespeare’s plays for anyone, but, for an English novelist who happens to be Jewish, also the most challenging.” You should have a very interesting reading experience.

    • Yes, it was exactly what I needed! I must admit I’m not fond of retellings but I will be open-minded and look them up. Perhaps it’s also because I have so many classics I still want to read that I feel like going outside of that is reducing my time to read the “real” classics. But I should be more adventurous. Thanks for the tip!

      • It’s interesting to see where we readers fall on the “retellings/reimaging” issue! As I said, modern treatments of the myths & plays interest me but I know that many, many bloggers don’t like them at all. Regardless, you’re absolutely right about the necessity of reading the real thing; without being familiar with the classic itself, the reimaging is pretty meaningless. Which is why I’ve never read Jacobson’s Shylock Is My Name! (I want to read the play first). I’ve always felt that Shakespeare is a big hole in my own reading — I never quite got around to taking a class in college and haven’t had a lot of success in reading him on my own. You should have a very interesting project working through Merchant; I look forward to the review!

        • The reason I don’t like retellings is that “generally” many people are trying to make a buck and I feel that instead of using their own creativity, they’re riding on the coat-tails of great authors to make some money. That said, I know I’m doing a disservice to authors who are truly touched by these works and perhaps want to explore them in a different way. So it’s a conundrum for me. I think my dislike also stems from newer translations that try to modernize everything which to me diminished the work. As C.S. Lewis said, “I do not say that even on these terms we shall not get some value out of our reading; but we must not imagine that we are appreciating the works the old writers actually wrote ……” and ” The possible Lucretius in myself interests me more than the possible C.S. Lewis in Lucretius …… “, meaning, of course that he’d rather travel back to the times the author was writing about and try to understand them, instead of bringing the work into our own time and seeing it (and often judging it) with modern eyes. I heartily agree with him.

          I have a Shakespeare project that I did so well will for awhile and then completely fell off the Shakespeare wagon. I’d like to get started again but at least this one play is a step in the right direction.

          Ah review, review …… why does each day seem to diminish in time ….???? 😉

          • You make some very good points and I love the quote from C.S. Lewis (whom I’ve never read; must check him out). Ultimately, just to play the devil’s advocate here, the same points could be used to argue against reading any translated literature, not just retellings/reimaginings, since of course we’re getting the translator’s idea of the source material, grafted onto (if not supplanting) the original writer’s. To see just how impactful that can be, just read two different translations of the same poem, or (in my case) my own doggerel attempts at Catullus when I was in college, compared to a skilled translation.
            I like the point you make about creativity and the tendency to ride the coat-tails of past greats! I hadn’t really thought of this aspect. I notice this the most in the myriad number of works which use characters from Austen or a plot from Henry James or some such and dress it up in modern garb. I must admit I’m really sick of that stuff. Although it’s hard for me to explain, what I find of most interest is works where an author takes a classic myth or story and retells it from an angle or viewpoint that hasn’t been done before. I’m searching for an example here and the best I can come up with is Madeline Miller’s Circe or Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls. Yes, modern sensibilities and/or views do sometimes creep in but what does, or doesn’t, is precisely what I find interesting. Every age reinterprets the classics — that’s why they’re classic; they’re works that live through the centuries because they’re strong and complex enough for many cultures to find something there that reflects its values (the Lucretius read by C.S. Lewis was no doubt a very different one that the Lucretius read by St. Augustine, as each reader was inevitably influenced by the culture that produced him). I also find it interesting to see how a past culture interpreted a myth and compare to how a 21st century artist might do so. I remember, for example, reading “Sir Orfeo,” a medieval retelling of the Orpheus myth; the anonymous poet gave it a happy ending and threw in some Celtic fairies!
            Anyway, my apologies for the long discussion; didn’t mean to hijack your blog. All I can say is that the topic is really an interesting one.
            I know what you mean about writing reviews, as I can’t seem to get going on my own stuff! I just finished a wonderful Wharton novel (The Reef), there’s much to be said about it but I just want to start my next book . . . .

          • Ah! Great comments!

            I see retellings and imaginings different than just translation: with the latter (I hope) a good translator would try to stick as closely as they could to the author’s words/intent, knowing of course that literal translations don’t always work and then some “creativity” needs to be employed. With retellings, I suspect the writer is trying to covey the original story but not actually translating it, and imaginings would allow the writer to imagine possibilities outside the original story. Does that make sense? I do believe that translation has become looser and can try to convey modern sentiment so I’m particular with translations.

            I think it’s Mortimer J. Adler (of How To Read A Book) who said that a reader’s first duty is to attempt to understand what the author is/was trying to convey. If we don’t attempt to do that, our reading “will then become a battle between us and the author in which we are trying to twist his work into a shape he never gave it, to make him use the loud pedal where he really used the soft, to force into false prominence what he took in his stride, and to slur over what he actually threw into prominence …” (again, a Lewis quote) But if we first try to understand the work, then after I think it’s a reader’s prerogative to “use” the work for their own desires.

            It’s my understanding that emulations were very common historically but a true creative spirit was always trying to make the work better or to at least live up to it while still making the work their own, and not simply attempting to convey their own ideas or thoughts for entertainment. Honestly, I’m not at all against imitation. In fact, it can be very important. I just find that it’s often done is such a simple way in our modern writing that it can appear almost juvenile. There’s entertainment but not much beyond. But the popularity of the many retellings indicate I may be alone with my opinion (or with Lewis and Adler, at any rate). However, I’m very open to finding a book that will challenge that opinion, absolutely. I’ve wanted to read Circe but I love the Odyssey so much I’ve been afraid that if she’s given it a modern flavour it will drive me nuts. But I still might go for it.

            Ooo, Wharton is one of my favourite authors so I would love to hear what you thought of The Reef! Hope you post a review!

            Please, Janakay, hijack my blog anytime. 😊 I love long comments. And what are blogs for but discussion (oh, and reviews, but those are almost secondary for me 😂)? Have a great day!

  4. i saw this with my parents many years ago in Ashland… a memorable experience that has stayed with me… there’s a lot in it, like most of S…

  5. Your luck is with you! I love it when a book can do double duty for challenges. It makes me feel extra industrious somehow! I know so very little about Shakespear plays…mostly what I learned in high school English…if I can remember it! So I look forward to your review, if you choose to blog about it. 😀

    • Yes, cross-overs are always appreciated and enjoyed! Ah, you should try to tackle the Bard sometimes. Many of his plays are just excellent! I WILL blog. I’m just not sure about which book yet …. hopefully all ….. 😀

  6. When I think about Shakespeare’s plays, I always have in mind Othello, King Lear and Macbeth. Sometimes I remember The Tempest too.

    And of course, Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet.

    For some reason, I tend to completely forget about The Merchant of Venice. (I am somewhat familiar with the story though; my mum used to tell me about it when I was a child)

    • Yes, I think of those plays too. And they’re some of my favourites.

      I think The Merchant of Venice is one of the more popular ones with which I’m least familiar. I’m going to rectify that oversight!

      Good to see you back in the blogosphere! I’ve been wondering what you’ve been up to and hoping that life is treating you well!

  7. I really liked M of V – read alongside listening to an audio. We’re in the middle of The Tempest – 2nd time through. I’m finding Shakespeare more enjoyable the more I re-read him & become more familiar with his characters. The first time through I’m always tripped up by all the names etc.

    • I’m going to listen to an audio as well …. just waiting to pick it up from the library, hopefully tomorrow. Re-reading is so rewarding, isn’t it? If only we had another lifetime in which to do it!

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