Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Persy -- Wednesday Scrolls

Everyone loves a good classic (or... everyone should). Those that have a mild liking for it have probably read Shakespeare, Jane Austen, maybe some Charles Dickens. If you love classics, you probably shouldn't even read this post because you'll know more about it than me.

And no, this isn't a post analyizing various works of literature. I'm not quite that studious when it comes to reading. I'll just be bringing several good classic books to your attention. Some of them might be widely known, but not actually widely read.

For instance, everyone knows about The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, but have you actually read the (unabridged, obviously) book? All 500+ pages?

Please do. Victor Hugo's writing is amazing (though it depends on your translation, I'm sure). He'll spend numerous pages just describing the whereabouts of the story, which is indeed sometimes tedious, but often interesting.

And the, story, well... don't expect the Disney version. Several differences: Quasimodo is deaf in the book, but not the movie; there are no magical gargoyles in the book; Esmeralda ain't that bright in the book. Seriously, she is not the cleanest sock in the laundry. Most of the time she's just exclaiming about her wonderful Phoebus, no matter who else is eloquently proclaiming their love for her, or saving her life, or just treating her much nicer than Phoebus.

I love Quasimodo, but it's hard to feel anything but pity for the poor man. Both he and Don Claude Frollo were unfortunate enough to fall in love with the gypsy girl Esmeralda, and Esmeralda never, throughout the entire book, gives a straw about either of them. Frollo goes a bit overboard in his efforts to win her affections, but Quasimodo just saves her life and treats her with kindness and respect. Frollo, on the other hand, quite literally goes insane. I admit, I really liked him too, but... He's not much of a charmer.

I really loved how Victor Hugo led up the end. He built the stories of all the characters, described the time and setting, and then got deep into the story. It was very nicely done. While I might not read The Hunchback of Notre Dame over and over again (mostly just because of its length), it's definitely a favorite.

Robert Louis Stevenson is known for Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but I'm currently reading his little known The Black Arrow, set in the time of the War of the Roses.

Young Richard Shelton (which is how he always seems to be introduced) is a ward of Sir Daniel Brackley, ever since his father was killed many years ago. But when Sir Daniel is targeted by the outlaws known as the fellowship of the Black Arrow, many things start coming to light that divide Dick's loyalty.

While all this happens, he meets Joanna Sedley. During his first encounter with her, she's disguised herself as a boy and is trying to run away from Sir Daniel and her arranged marriage to Dick himself. Dick, poor guy, doesn't realize she's actually Joanna for a long time. But after that, they both realize they're in love with each other and promise that if they ever both escape from the clutches of Sir Daniel, they will get married.

About halfway through the book is when Dick joins the Black Arrow (sorry if this is considered a spoiler), and fights to get Joanna back from Sir Daniel and avenge his father. His first attempts usually fail miserably, but he gets better every time.

I haven't finished this book yet, but I'm confident that it will end well. The story and writing are both wonderful, as are the characters. Dick, while he might be a bit thick (poor thick Dick) at times, is actually pretty cool, and the same goes for Joanna. Lawless (ex-sailor, ex-friar, and now thief) is also awesome. This is my first Robert Louis Stevenson book, and he has definitely piqued my interest.

The last book is Shakespeare. Now, everyone's heard of Shakespeare, and Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet, but have you heard of The Comedy of Errors? If yes, then have you read it?

There were once twin boys, who had twin servants. When these two pairs of twins were just babies, they were separated and grew up in separate countries. Many years later, one of these brothers, with his servant, goes in search of his lost family. When he gets to the foreign country, he is taken to be the brother that already lives there. But, neither the brothers nor the two servants ever actually meet in person.

As a result, things get very mixed up. One brother will vehemently say that he did not buy a necklace, while everyone around him is insisting that he did. When more and more of these strange occurrences add up, it is decided that the man and his servant have both been possessed.

I've heard that people don't consider Shakespeare's comedies to actually be funny, and I don't understand what those people think humor is. 'Cause Shakespeare is freakin' hilarious. I was grinning throughout the entire story, and if I had actually seen the play, it would've been even funnier. I strongly recommend this under-rated play to Shakespeare lovers (and pretty much everyone else, actually).

These are just a few of the many classics I enjoy, but maybe these are some you never really knew or thought about. If you're a lover of classics, or if you just dabble a bit, these are some you should definitely check out.


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