Question About Reading Classics

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    • July 8, 2016 at 10:22 am #15408

      I’ve got a few questions for you all, if you wouldn’t mind answering them…

      IF you are intimidated by the idea of reading classic books

      • What makes you most nervous?
      • Do you own classics already?

      IF you have already dipped your toes into the classics pool (or even jumped all the way in!)

      • Were you nervous about reading them?
      • If so, what helped you get over that and do it anyway?
    • July 8, 2016 at 10:22 am #15440

      I have tried several classics so far and I have to say I love it! I don’t think I was nervous, maybe because I’ve always been a reader? I read The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and it got me all excited to start. She made it seem doable.

      Having someone to read along with helps tremendously. After reading WEM I asked my brother if he was interested in reading books along with me so we could discuss them (he and I have always enjoyed having philosophical conversations) and he was on board, so we started with The Iliad and went from there. I’m not sure I can remember everything we’ve read together, but a couple off the top of my head: Utopia, Paradise Lost, Aristotle, Aeneid, Beowulf. Our current read is Don Quixote.

      • July 8, 2016 at 10:22 am #15486

        Wow! You’ve read quite a lot! I think it is wonderful that you read and discuss with your brother — I pray my children will do something like that when they are grown. That would make me a very satisfied mother! ♥

        Who was the translator of your Beowulf, do you know? I have been thinking about trying the Tolkien one…

        • July 8, 2016 at 10:22 am #15528

          Funny that you say we’ve read a lot because I feel like I’ve barely even scratched the surface!

          The Beowulf translation was by Dick Ringler and I really enjoyed it. He took some time in the intro to explain various literary techniques (things like alliteration,etc) that he was careful to use in order to stay as true the original as possible, and reading the poem with those things in mind made it so enjoyable.

          I’m sure Tolkien’s translation is lovely though. He is always poetic. I’m reading his version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight with ds right now and just love it!

    • July 8, 2016 at 10:22 am #15562

      I have read several classics and have generally really enjoyed it! I also found The Well Educated Mind to be very helpful. It also helped that I took several classes in college that required quite a bit of tougher reading in more “antiquated” language…especially my church history and early American history courses. Both required reading a lot of original source documents and after a while you just kind of get used to the different “flow” of the language.

      I wouldn’t say I am really intimidated about reading the classics…after all there’s nothing to lose right? I do find that I feel a little intimidated trying to *discuss* them with people who have done lots of study in that area! Sometimes I feel like I’m doing well just to remember who is who and get the general grasp of the plot! But we all have to start somewhere, and I love the idea that I have my whole lifetime to grow in my cultural knowledge. I’ve also been reading and learning right along with my oldest, who is 13 now. It’s so great to be able to learn together!

      • July 8, 2016 at 10:22 am #15629

        I love that you said we have nothing to lose — it’s true! But it’s hard to remember sometimes. ♥

        The Well-Educated Mind is one I haven’t read, but you all are selling me on it! 🙂

    • July 8, 2016 at 10:22 am #15797

      I’ve read a few classics, not many, but I am taking the “no papers required” version of Susan Wise Bauer’s new class on The Well Educated Mind Academy (an offshoot of The Well Trained Mind Academy only for adults) and we will be reading through The Odyssey, Beowulf, Gilgamesh, Dante and some others. I think my main concern is trying to figure out when I will be able to “make time” for reading that is going to require more brain power. I am expecting, so I already feel like brain power is at a minimum. 😉

      What helped me get over it was realizing that as time goes on I am not going to have *more time* and so why keep putting off something I do want to do eventually thinking that it will be easier later, since it probably won’t! Also listening to so many speakers really encourage self-education at the Great Homeschool Convention last month helped too, and I have a friend who will also be taking Susan’s class, so doing it together will be another boost!

      • July 8, 2016 at 10:22 am #15878

        Yes! Fellowship and accountability are very motivating for me too. I’m doing the read through of Charlotte Mason’s works on the Ambleside Online forums, and while not a “classic”, her writing is definitely challenging at times. Seeing what others glean from it adds so much depth. I’m also taking the “Bringing Schole to Your School and Homeschool” summer course through Classical Academic Press which has been really encouraging. I’ve been trying to get a Schole Sisters group started in my area but so far it’s been tough getting people to actually commit and show up…hopefully it’ll catch on soon 🙂

    • July 8, 2016 at 10:22 am #15974

      That’s so wonderful you’ve been able to invest so much time in learning and growing! I almost signed up for the “Bringing Schole” class and I wish I had just bit the bullet and gone ahead with it. I’ve been encouraged and challenged in my short time of reading and learning about schole and it’s resonated so deeply with me. A friend and I really want to start a Schole Sisters group in our area too and I know what you mean about people not prioritizing that fellowship and accountability. It is so crucial and I feel like our friendships run so much deeper when we engage on that level, I just wish more people were willing to make an effort as well!

      • July 8, 2016 at 10:22 am #16391

        I love what you said here: that friendships are so much deeper when we engage on that level.

        You know, a Scholé Sisters group can be as simple as you and one other person. To start. They invariably seem to grow over time, but sometimes small is actually really nice! We went through a time when ours was huge and I actually didn’t like it as much — it was harder to connect after we were over about 10 people. Now that we’re back down to about 8 it feels more comfy, in my opinion. Maybe that’s just my introvert speaking, but still.

        I think CAP does a class every summer, so maybe 2017 will be your year? 🙂

    • July 8, 2016 at 10:22 am #16736

      I have read quite a few classics over the years but I was nervous at the beginning because up until that time I only read fluff and I didn’t think I was smart enough to understand these books. My first classic was The Iliad. I was amazed that I actually knew what was going on, it wasn’t that hard to understand.

      I am currently reading Anna Karenina–oh my goodness! there are so many ideas in those pages. I have lots to ponder on.

      • July 8, 2016 at 10:22 am #17108

        Good choice with Anna Karenina. That was one of the first “real” books that I read on my own as an adult. I don’t remember a whole lot of it — mostly just the sense that I was reading something amazing. I think the feeling was awe.

    • July 8, 2016 at 10:22 am #17394

      I think I was lucky that because I was an early, voracious reader I read a number of classics before high school, when they were assigned as classics. I think a lot of people are made to feel that if they don’t like a classic, it must be because they don’t get it therefore they are an idiot or a Philistine. But i’ve read and enjoyed a large number of classics and I still think Hemingway is overrated and I’d rather throw myself in a bog than read Wuthering Heights again. It’s okay to not enjoy a classic — particularly a modern classic, as they are usually permeated with a spirit of nihilism that makes you feel like there’s no point in even living, let alone reading. It seems like the people I know who are scared of classics were usually made to feel stupid for not liking modern lit — like people who lose confidence in their taste for art because they don’t “get” Pollock.

    • July 8, 2016 at 10:22 am #17477

      I think my issue was past experiences or exposure. I had a high school English teacher that sucked the life out of Dickens. I saw a musical once of Don Quixote an was bored to tears.

      However, after reading A Well-Educated Mind, I am reading Don Quixote and enjoying it! It is funny, which I didn’t expect. I think the musical version does not do the book justice.

      I also don’t like books where love stories appear to be the sole focus, so I have never really gotten in Austen books. However, I had a free audiobook copy of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, and I am really enjoying listening to it.

      The classics I find easiest to read are young adult ones–Peter Pan, Wrinkle in Time, anything by Alcott. I feel that they just flow better an are less tedious to read. I just have to remember the bigger classics will take me longer to get through and be ok with that!

      • July 8, 2016 at 10:22 am #17493

        The thing I like best about Austen is not the love story, but the meditation on virtue in her books. Take “Sense and Sensibility.” So yes, Elinor typifies sense and Marianne typifies sensibility and we see that Eleanor’s way is better. But then in the male characters it gets even more nuanced. Willoughby also typifies sense, but a selfish, heartless sense — he would actually be more virtuous if he had listened to his heart when he felt he couldn’t bear to abandon Marianne. Edwards higher feelings (an unwillingness to hurt Lucy and most of all his determination to keep his honor) win out over his love for Elinor even though you feel like reaching into the book and shaking him for not having the common sense to see that Lucy is only using him and he doesn’t owe a gold-digger like her anything…and yet he is rewarded in the end because he stays true against all reason (gets a living) and it all works out so he can marry Elinor anyway. So IS sense always better than sensibility? I find these things fascinating. 🙂

    • July 8, 2016 at 10:22 am #30886

      I started reading some of the classics a couple of years ago as part of a book club and aspire to continue on that path though it has been quite intimidating for me. For a few reasons:
      *I’m a notoriously slow reader. Facing a 1000-pager is like (emoji with the big eyes) for me.
      *I haven’t had the best memory. Since becoming a mom, I think. Yeah, let’s blame it on the kids!
      *Worry that I wouldn’t get it.

      The more I read Charlotte Mason, the easier its become to face these particular challenges. Dividing those pages into smaller chunks over time! Keeping a reading journal to remember. Understanding that my personal experiences influence what I absorb from what I’ve read and finding validation in that.

      What I think I’ve missed and am working towards is the benefit of discussing some of these books and ideas with others. I suppose that’s why I’m here.

      I’ve read The Epic of Gilgamesh, Augustine’s Confessions, The Imitation of Christ, The Betrothed, Pride and Prejudice, some Teresa of Avila, some drama, lots of poetry…
      Currently reading The Brothers Karamazov and I have Plutarch’s Lives from the library but I think I’ll hold off on that and do it as pre-reading next year.

      Great questions!

      ETA: also reading Little Women.

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