Acceptable Classic Literature

Here’s a companion piece to my Annoying Classic Literature post, written at the suggestion of the very same delightful 12th grade English teacher who inspired my earlier ranting.

Austen, JanePride and Prejudice

It wasn’t very funny when I was in 10th grade, but it made much more sense when I was a senior in college. On the outside chance that you’ve never enjoyed (or suffered through) this classic, I offer you a Very Concise Summary.

Stage the First
Elizabeth: Hi, there!
Darcy: I do not know you, therefore you are lame.
Elizabeth: Well, I don’t like you anyway.

Stage the Second
Darcy: Oops, I was wrong. Marry me!
Elizabeth: Get bent, you jerk!
Darcy: I’m a jerk?

Stage the Third
Elizabeth: Oops, I was wrong. Drat.
Lydia: I’m an idiot!
Darcy: How to Win Friends and Influence People
Elizabeth and Darcy: Yay!

THE END

Pride and Prejudice is available as a book, an audio book, and assorted movies. We also have the Cliffs notes and a DVD guide, which I feel obliged to point out even though I think you should read the book. You can also try Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (a book, an audio book, and a graphic novel – crikey!) or Bride and Prejudice, which is just a plain old movie.

Kafka, FranzThe Metamorphosis

Spoiler Alert – He’s a bug! Or is he? Gregor Samsa finds the best excuse ever for skipping work, while his sister learns just how important it is to clean under the bed.

The Metamorphosis is available as a book, an audio book, a graphic novel, and a play. We also have the Cliffs notes, but the book is pretty darn short so just read it already. And if that’s not enough giant buggy goodness for you, try Insect Dreams: the Half Life of Gregor Samsa by Marc Estrin, in which Gregor joins the circus, travels to New York, and becomes an advisor to FDR.

Lewis, SinclairMain Street

Poor Carol (Milford) Kennicott learns the hard way that the good people of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota do not appreciate women with opinions, nice legs, or an interest in poetry. Just think how much happier she would have been with high speed internet access and Dr. Kennicott’s credit card.

Main Street is available as a book, and an audio book. We also have the Cliffs notes for when you’re too depressed to read any further but you still have to crank out a ten page paper by the end of the week.

VoltaireCandide

Floggings, syphilis, drowning, earthquakes, and the Inquisition have never been so much fun! It makes me wonder – what tragedies would befall a modern day Candide? Probably identity theft and swine flu. Or perhaps his car would be recalled.

Candide is available as a book, an audio book, and an operetta. We also have the Cliffs notes, but Candide is just too absurd to pass up. Plus, people will think you’re smart when they see you reading Voltaire.

And remember, all is for the best in the best of all possible blog posts. But now I must ask, gentle readers, what classics do you particularly enjoy? If you had to foist one great classic on a high school student at the risk of alienating them from literature forever, what would you choose?

- Amy

8 Comments

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8 responses to “Acceptable Classic Literature

  1. I disagree with you on the first one. P&P should be consigned to Rubbishy Classic Literature, IMO. But hey, that’s all I can say by way of two cents, right?

  2. I would add Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson to the list. Ginnyky

  3. lisa

    I have always loved The Count of Monte Cristo and recommend it to any young reader who asks for “something good”. I just love how everyone gets their just due in this book.

  4. Loretta

    As a high school English teacher (retired) who has assigned so many of these “Rubbishy Classics,” I apologize for making students think. My personal favorites are anything by James Joyce and John Donne. Novels and poetry by Margaret Atwood are also great. I have no idea why she hasn’t won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

    • atwood-wise i’ve read the handmaid’s tale – scared the crap out of me, oryx and crake – weird as heck but plausible, and after the flood – too much like one of my boyfriend’s video games (fallout 3) for me to think anything but, “hey, this is just like fallout 3!”

      ah, well.

      - amy

  5. Charlie

    I can handle Dumas in movie form and in abridged, but even then it feels like politics as an excuse for stabbing people a lot.

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