Classics Club Survey

You have to be a little mad to participate in this survey.
The Classics Club has posted a survey of 50 questions.  It's huge!  I've enjoyed reading everyone's answers, but I quite understand if you get bored and move on.  Also, I can't get the formatting to behave very well, so it's often all a giant block of text--sorry about that.

Fun fact: images and numbered lists fight with each other.  I was going to throw a bunch of nice pictures in, but that turned out to be a bad idea.

50 Club Questions:

  1. Share a link to your club list.  Here you go.
  2. When did you join The Classics Club? How many titles have you read for the club? (We are SO CHECKING UP ON YOU! Nah. We’re just asking.) :)  I was in on it from the beginning, which I think was March 2012, so I ought to be at least halfway through by now, right?  I'm at 82 out of 150.

  3. What are you currently reading?  The long-awaited Tristram Shandy!  And poetry by a Senegalese poet, Senghor.
  4. What did you just finish reading and what did you think of it?  I just finished War and Peace, which took 3 months but was totally worth it.  I liked it very much, though the long historical lectures were a bit difficult to get into.  I will say I prefer Anna Karenina.
  5. What are you reading next? Why? The Crucible for my Spin list, and My Antonia, by Willa Cather, for the Willa Cather Reading Week in early December.
  6. Best book you’ve read so far with the club, and why?  Oh dear.  Anna Karenina, Doctor Zhivago, and A Suitable Boy, I think, are my top three.  I don't know which to pick.  Maybe Suitable Boy on the strength of not being primarily about adultery?  Anna Karenina might just have to win on sheer beauty though.

  7. Book you most anticipate (or, anticipated) on your club list?  A Suitable Boy for sure, and the Anthony Trollope books.  I think Trollope most.
  8. Book on your club list you’ve been avoiding, if any? Why?  Ha, lots of them.  Roll, Jordan, Roll is terrifying because it's like 900 pages of dense history, and Henry James' Wings of the Dove is just dense.  Almost anything American, especially modern plays. I've been putting off the plays for sure, which is why I put The Crucible on my Spin list.  And that's just the first section!  Then there are the giant medieval historical chronicles...
  9. First classic you ever read?  Gee, I'm not sure.  I unknowingly read many children's classics growing up--our house was full of Lewis and Nesbit and Tintin and Wilder and Caddie Woodlawn--but I had quite the allergy to anything with the label "classic" on it for years, even well into college (where I was a literature major...) Possibly the first "classic" with that label on it that I read on my own would be Little Women.  For the Classics Club project, I think it would be Eugene Onegin.
  10. Toughest classic you ever read?  Hm, War and Peace was pretty tricky just now, just because of all the history and war.  I still haven't finished Herotodus, so maybe that should count.
  11. Classic that inspired you? or scared you? made you cry? made you angry?  I shall talk about the angry ones.  Pamela made me angry.  Because he started off with a perfectly good premise and then ruined it with horrible Pamela falling in love with Mr. B.  The Decameron didn't exactly make me angry most of the time, but I was pretty annoyed with the unending stream of bawdy stories, and "Patient Griselda" would make any modern person mad.  Oh!  And the Communist Manifesto makes me angry for being so preposterous and leading to probably more suffering than any other idea ever.

  12. Longest classic you’ve read? Longest classic left on your club list?  I think Vikram Seth's Suitable Boy, at nearly 1500 pages, is the longest so far.  I'm not quite sure what the longest one left is; Roll, Jordan, Roll is a good 900 pages, but a couple of the older Asian works on my list are turning out to be frighteningly long.
  13. Oldest classic you’ve read? Oldest classic left on your club list?  Gilgamesh, I suppose?  Of the titles on my CC list, Confucius is the oldest.  When the CC started in 2012, I was running a Greek classics challenge, and I felt like it would be cheating, so I didn't put ANY Greek literature on the list.  Which in retrospect, wasn't that bright of a move.

  14. Favorite biography about a classic author you’ve read — or, the biography on a classic author you most want to read, if any?  I guess I haven't read a lot of biographies of classic authors.  I've read a lot of biographies of children's classic authors though--Beverly Cleary, Roald Dahl, Beatrix Potter, Laura Ingalls Wilder, etc.  Roald Dahl's Going Solo is one of my very favorite books so I'll choose that.
  15. Which classic do you think EVERYONE should read? Why?  I'll go with To Kill a Mockingbird, which is both a fantastic read and a very important book.  Huck Finn would also qualify. Odd that I'm picking American titles when I mostly do not prefer American literature, but there you go.
  16. Favorite edition of a classic you own, if any?  Oooh, that's a toughie.  I don't buy that many books, and a lot of the books I have bought are beat-up old ones--which I like, but they aren't exactly fancy stuff.  I am very fond of my edition of Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, because it is so pretty.
  17. Favorite movie adaption of a classic?  Oh, I have pedestrian tastes--or maybe I just don't watch many movies.  I love the A&E mini-series of Pride and Prejudice and the film of To Kill a Mockingbird with Gregory Peck. I still haven't even seen Lark Rise to Candleford, I'm that behind in the film world.
  18. Classic which hasn’t been adapted yet (that you know of) which you very much wish would be adapted to film.  Are there any left?  Certainly no British ones.  Well, maybe one or two of Trollope's novels, since there were so many.  I'd watch Barchester Towers, but I bet it's been done and I just don't know it.
  19. Least favorite classic? Why?  Anything by Hemingway.  I tried, I really did, but I just can't love Hemingway.
  20. Name five authors you haven’t read yet whom you cannot wait to read.  Well, they're not all on my CC list.  I've been exploring a lot of world literature for work, and I've ordered some books (again, for work) that I'm quite excited about reading myself.   Of course I can't get away with ordering all the books that I'd like to read--I order for the collection and some of them happen to be books I want to read too.  I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't order some books I think I would dislike a lot.  It's also hard to think of authors who I've never read who I can't wait to read, because usually if I haven't read anything by someone, I also don't know anything about them.  I've read something by most of the big names, and if I haven't it's because I'm scared of them.  Like Victor Hugo.  So I'll just put down people I'm hoping to read soon, even if I'm not actually super-excited about them.

    Berthold Brecht--I want to read The Threepenny Opera pretty soon.
    Bruno Schulz' The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories.
    Victor Hugo--why not?  Les Miserables, someday anyway.
    Mia Couto--Sleepwalking Land
    VS Naipul--I have the Ramayana on my shelf.
  21. Which title by one of the five you’ve listed above most excites you and why? The Street of Crocodiles, I'm quite looking forward to that.  It's supposed to be great stuff.
  22. Have you read a classic you disliked on first read that you tried again and respected, appreciated, or even ended up loving? (This could be with the club or before it.)  You know, I don't think I have.  I should try that sometime, pick a book I really disliked and try it again.  Usually if I disliked something I don't go back to it.
  23. Which classic character can’t you get out of your head?  Hm, there are a lot of people in my head, but most of them are from books I read when I was younger.  I can't think of anybody in particular right now, sorry.
  24. Which classic character most reminds you of yourself?  This is not something I tend to do, compare fictional characters with real people, unless it's really obvious--especially myself, probably.  I did once say that somebody I know is just like Mr. Micawber!  But who is like me?  I do not know.
  25. Which classic character do you most wish you could be like?  When I was younger I wanted to be like Anne Shirley, of course.  I wouldn't mind being as wise and loving as Marmee, which I certainly am not (though I can think of a real person who resembles a thoroughly modern Marmee).  And I'd like to be as strong and certain as Jane Eyre.
  26. Which classic character reminds you of your best friend?  There, again, I've never thought about it.  My best friend is maybe not the sort of person who would end up in a novel?  She is very straightforward.  I'm not thinking of a comparison here, I'm stuck.
  27. If a sudden announcement was made that 500 more pages had been discovered after the original “THE END” on a classic title you read and loved, which title would you most want to keep reading? Or, would you avoid the augmented manuscript in favor of the original? Why?  As long as it's by the original author, I would probably want to read it (unless it was the second half of Pamela...).    I'd be happiest to have 500 more pages of a favorite children's author, like Nesbit or Lewis or even DWJ, who ought to have classic status.
  28. Favorite children’s classic?  Nobody can possibly expect me to choose just one.  I'm the person who did a whole series on this topic, remember?  Just follow the link and you'll see a few.
  29. Who recommended your first classic?  If we're going with Little Women, it was given to me by a friend.  She was a teacher in a church class when I was a teen and when she found out I had never read it, she was scandalized (the more so because she knew I was a reader!).  I was about 19 at that point.  It's not that I'd never seen Little Women before--my mom had a copy--but I wouldn't touch it because I had this silly prejudice about books that said 'classic' on them (if they didn't say the word, I didn't know, and read them).
  30. Whose advice do you always take when it comes to literature. (Recommends the right editions, suggests great titles, etc.)  First, my mom; we're practically literary clones anyway and we borrow from each other a lot.  Otherwise, Amy at Book Musings (come back, Amy!) always had really good ideas, Tom at Wuthering Expectations is forever coming up with--to use his word--preposterous titles that work out perfectly, and too many other people to list, like Cleo and Jenny at Reading the End and so on...
  31. Favorite memory with a classic?  Well, I don't know about favorite, but how about this one?  In college, my roommate and I both had to read Clarissa at about the same time.  Probably partly because of the fact that we each had to read it in about 10 days, we both got completely subsumed in the world of the story.  Clarissa's fate seemed completely natural and obvious to us; clearly that was the only thing she could do.  It took us at least a week to recover enough for the lightbulb to go on and our modern sensibilities to come back so that we thought what rubbish it all was.  (Of course I mean we did that only with the novel itself, not the rest of our lives!)  It's such a goofy story that remembering it always makes me laugh.
  32. Classic author you’ve read the most works by?  Probably Shakespeare, just because there are so many plays!
  33. Classic author who has the most works on your club list?  Shakespeare.  I usually tried to select one or two representative titles for a really wide spread, but Shakespeare got 5 or so.  Because Shakespeare.  Edith Wharton got 3 because I'd never read any Wharton before.
  34. Classic author you own the most books by?  C. S. Lewis, almost certainly.  I usually only own one or two by the more famous authors; I try to "collect" the ones I can't easily get at the library or just have to have around all the time.  I have collected a lot of Lewis, including literary criticism.

    *two hours later*  No, wait.  I own an entire Yale Shakespeare, a good 30 volumes.  That would be it.
  35. Classic title(s) that didn’t make it to your club list that you wish you’d included? (Or, since many people edit their lists as they go, which titles have you added since initially posting your club list?)  I kept adding for months until I realized I would have to stop.  I added the Scandinavian titles and the German titles suggested by my brother last, I think.  I can think of lots of others to add, but I think I'll have to pull an o and come up with a second list after I finish this one.
  36. If you could explore one author’s literary career from first publication to last — meaning you have never read this author and want to explore him or her by reading what s/he wrote in order of publication — who would you explore? Obviously this should be an author you haven’t yet read, since you can’t do this experiment on an author you’re already familiar with. :) Or, which author’s work you are familiar with might it have been fun to approach this wayHm, that's what I'm trying to do with Thomas Pynchon!  I'm going to try to read those in order.  So I guess him, though it's not totally pure since I'd already read his second book twice.  If I was going to pick someone completely unread, that's really tough.  Some of the bloggers I see do it with Zola, but I'm not sure I want to read that much Zola....

  37. How many rereads are on your club list? If none, why? If some, which are you most looking forward to, or did you most enjoy?  Eighteen, which counts 5 Shakespeare plays and a review of a bunch of Scandinavian classics I read in college.   I looked forward to those Scandinavian books and so far they have repaid very well.  Anaya's Bless Me Ultima I liked better the first time.  I'm very much looking forward to re-reading Gandhi's autobiography, which I first read in my freshman year of college and loved. 
  38. Has there been a classic title you simply could not finish?  Lory just reminded me that I didn't make it through Midnight's Children, but that was quite a few years ago now.  I'm worried enough about The Cairo Trilogy that I'm thinking of swapping it out.
  39. Has there been a classic title you expected to dislike and ended up loving?  Madame Bovary!  The Count of Monte Cristo!  (I'm always nervous of French lit.)
  40. Five things you’re looking forward to next year in classic literature? 
    I want to do some Germans,
    and finish the Barsetshire books,
    and read some medieval literature that is not about King Arthur,
    and read more Asian works,
    and concentrate a lot on my CC list generally.
  41. Classic you are DEFINITELY GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year? Hoping for Roll, Jordan, Roll and Gravity's Rainbow.
  42. Classic you are NOT GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year? The Dream of the Red Chamber. Do you know it's 5 volumes long??  No wonder nobody owns it. It seemed like a good idea at the time.  That one might have to go in favor of something else, maybe this one popular Korean classic my brother told me about.

  43. Favorite thing about being a member of the Classics Club?  So many people to trade encouragement and stories with, and the Spin!
  44. List five fellow clubbers whose blogs you frequent. What makes you love their blogs? I read a lot of blogs!  These are some but I probably read 30+.  (Are these people all in the club?  I don't even know.)

    Cleo at Classical Carousel has become a good blogging friend; we have a lot of tastes in common.  Plus she's funnier than I am.
    Ekaterina at In My Book is really fun to read and has good recommendations, and I am jealous of where she lives, in Prague.
    Tom at Wuthering Expectations comes up with insane book proposals and then writes about them very thoroughly. And he's funny about it.
    Emily at Classics and Beyond
    is always thoughtful and brings up interesting points (like her recent post about finishing books!)
    O at Behold the Stars reads super-fast and can write long analytic posts like I can't.
  45. Favorite post you’ve read by a fellow clubber?  You have got to be kidding.  I don't know, how could I know that?  I know, I will tell you my favorite post of the last week.  It is Emily's post on finishing books, and it reflects on an article from the Atlantic that made some ripples recently.  I may post on it soon myself, because I have THOUGHTS.  And OPINIONS.
  46. If you’ve ever participated in a readalong on a classic, tell about the experience? If you’ve participated in more than one, what’s the very best experience? the best title you’ve completed? a fond memory? a good friend made?  I've done a few now, but my first one is a great memory.  I did Madame Bovary with the WTM Ladies and had a wonderful experience.  Everyone was so nice, and I was so intimidated by the book and wound up loving it.
  47. If you could appeal for a readalong with others for any classic title, which title would you name? Why?  Les Miserables, because I don't think it will happen unless there is a readalong at just the right time (like summer).
  48. How long have you been reading classic literature?  With intent, about 4 years.  In a desultory sort of way, forever.
  49. Share up to five posts you’ve written that tell a bit about your reading story. Reviews, journal entries, posts on novels you loved or didn’t love, lists, etc.

    Kindly Inquisitors tells you something about my pet issues.
    For angry posting, you can read my post on Pamela.
    My thoughts on The Quest of the Holy Grail, one of my favorites from this year's Arthurian Challenge.
    A book by one of my all-time favorite history people: Dancing Goddesses.
    What Makes DWJ Magical, for DWJ March 2013.
  50. Question you wish was on this questionnaire? (Ask and answer it!)  I am surveyed out.  *faint*

Hermione knows what she's talking about.


  1. I enjoyed reading through all of your answers, Jean. Totally impressed that 150 is your goal, but I shouldn't be surprised. I should have added To Kill a Mockingbird as a favorite film adaptation. And by the time I got to 49, I was done, too. : )

  2. I am in the club in spirit. A sympathetic fellow traveler.

  3. I enjoyed reading your responses! Thanks for linking to me. :) (I hope you do write about the Atlantic article because you have a lot more experience than I do.)

  4. Yeah, Ruth, it took days and I was tired!

    Heh, Tom, good enough for me.

    Yeah, I think I have some Things To Say. In Capitals, like Winnie the Pooh. Probably work on it later today after a work meeting...

  5. Thanks so much for mentioning me, Jean! If I'm funnier than you, you're much smarter than me, as your trivia win proves! I do get funny when I'm in a catatonic state, placed there by knights hurtling together and smiting off heads, ad nauseam. ;-)

    Yes, we do have lots in common: I avoid anything American too (or Canadian for that matter, although I doubt we have much that is considered a classic) and I by far own more C.S. Lewis books than any others.

    A Les Miserables read-along? Hmmm ....... I'd love to read it again ........

  6. Reading these lists is far from boring albeit rather time consuming.

    I do not like Mr Hemingway either.

    And will probably need a readalong for Les Mis.......when I've cleared brothers Karamazov from my path.


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