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The public domain is MY domain!

One benefit of owning an eReader like the Kindle is you can take advantage of all the free public domain ebooks available in the Kindle store or through Project Gutenberg and similar efforts. In an effort to realize that benefit, ever since I got a Kindle, I have been working on reading (or in some case re-reading) some classics.

First the confession. I totally gave up on Moby Dick. Talk about slow! I decided life was simply too short for Moby Dick. Now the bragging. I read the entire Jane Austen oeuvre. I wasn't that wild about Northanger Abbey because it read almost like a spoof of Gothic novels. Except for that, my least favorite Austen novel (not counting Lady Susan as a novel) is Mansfield Park, mostly because Fanny is just too much of a doormat to elicit any empathy. Pride & Prejudice ranks first, closely followed by Sense & Sensibility. Persuasion is somewhere in the middle.

I also read a A Christmas Carol with no trouble, even though it had a unique problem for a book I had never actually read. It was word-for-word so familiar from having seen countless screen adaptations that it was just like re-reading a book I had read many times. I mean, a lot of screen writers must have lifted whole chunks of dialog and narration. But then there were odd Victorian and/or British things that were totally unfamiliar. I had to use the built-in dictionary to discover what a "brawn" meant in the context of piles of food (meat from a pig's or cow's head, cooked and pressed in a pot with jelly). And I had to look "Norfolk Biffins" up on the web to find out they were apples— at least they sounded better than brawns.

Now I am working on Around the World in Eighty Days. I had always assumed that Hollywood added the romance between Fogg and the rajah's widow, and the silliness with Passepartout in a circus, but in fact, that's all in the book! I'm only 76% done, but so far it's a fun read as long as you're not too bothered by occasional inaccuracies and Western condescension about Eastern culture.

There are plenty of other books waiting on my Kindle. I'm trying to interleave old and new works, so I eventually get around to the ones I always meant to read without forgoing the new stuff. What about you? Are there classics you have always meant to read but just never got around to?

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 4th, 2010 11:36 am (UTC)
Northanger Abbey IS a spoof of the gothic novel - that's the point. She never published it so it isn't 'finished' and it was her first so it is very rough but allowing for those things I think it's great, very funny and a total take off of the novels she teases about in later books.

Jan. 4th, 2010 01:00 pm (UTC)
But I wanted a real Austen novel, so it just didn't do anything for me. Austen can be very funny, which I think is one reason why her novels have staying power. Did you read Lady Susan? It's very short and all written as letters. Lady Susan is smart but she comes across as a total gold digger-- which was pretty much a woman's total career path back then but it still didn't make me like her.
Jan. 4th, 2010 01:05 pm (UTC)
Well, yes - it is certainly not a real austin novel. I haven't read Lady Susan - must get it.

Austin is a good example of what happens when you restrict choices. If you put women on a pedestal, refuse to let a lady work and keep herself you had better be prepared for some pretty cold gold digging....

Glad you are having fun with the books!
Jan. 4th, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC)
If you're interested, kellyrfineman is doing an interesting series on Persuasion this month.

Jan. 4th, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I will check it out.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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