Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blog a Classic

It seemed like a good idea at the time - register for one of the 1,400 Penguin Classics on offer, read it and send off a review to the Bog A Penguin website. I signed up and then forgot all about it until my book eventually arrived, plunging me into memories of 'A' level French lessons. I really enjoyed studying Racine, de Maupassant, Hugo, Flaubert, Voltaire, Baudelaire and the fables of La Fontaine but I hated Moliere and his Bourgeois Gentilhomme. So what did I bag to blog about? Moliere's The Misanthrope and Other Plays.

The book has been read, the review submitted and the memories are waiting to be laid to rest, forever this time, I hope. I found the plays themselves as silly and irritating as I did in 1967 but the introduction and notes are interesting and worth reading for a real understanding of Paris society in the reign of Le Roi Soleil. I certainly wish I'd had such an excellent reference book when preparing for my exams. But that was 40 years ago and I really would have preferred reading something else.

As you can see from the picture, it is a beautiful book but I don't want to keep it on my shelf as a constant reminder of the only piece of literature I have really disliked. Is there a book that you wish had never been written? Share your stories and we could make a list of books not to be taken to a desert island.


  1. As you've already cited Monsieur M I won't add Tartuffe, which I plodded through for French A-level and of which I enjoyed not a line. (Well, I suppose I just have added it . . .)

    However, the book that really required me to prop open my eyelids with matchsticks, was Joseph Conrad's The Rover, which blighted O-level English Literature for me. Even now, 45 years later, I only have to hear the words Escampobar Farm and the memory comes back to haunt me. Thankfully, these are words that rarely crop up in polite conversation. I loathed The Rover with a passion. I don't think I ever did finish it and it put me off Conrad for life. Groaned inwardly, therefore, when I discovered that Heart of Darkness was a set book for one of my Eng Lit degree options - I gave it a miss, I'm afraid. I put my long unread copy on ReadItSwapIt and Greenmetropolis a year ago - seems that nobody else wants to read it either.

  2. We're agreed on Moliere then, D. I haven't come across 'The Rover' but I'll take your word and put it on the banned list for our desert island. I read 'Lucky Jim', 'Heart of Darkness' and 'The Secret Agent' and enjoyed them all, so I think I had a fortunate introduction to Conrad.

  3. By the way, isn't Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis and Lord Jim by Conrad?


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