Today is the birthday of Anatole France, born Jacques Anatole Thibault, in Paris, France of course, in 1844. And how do I know this? I read, of course. According to The Writer’s Almanac, one of my favorite sources for blog ideas, France said, “The books that everyone admires are the books nobody reads.”
I have to admit, and really not ashamedly so, that though relatively I’m widely read, I’ve never read many of the classics that one would think I should have. In many random works of fiction I’ve read over the years, I’ve come upon characters who were extremely well versed in the classics – that’s perhaps because their creator was. For the longest time I wished I were similarly well read, but then I gave up on that. I’ve never read more than excerpts from works like The Iliad, The Odyssey, nor any of Jane Austin, and only the Dickens works I read I was required to read in school. I know most of his stories, but I really don’t like Dickens style of writing, nor do I like Edith Wharton’s. I do like John Steinbeck’s style, so I’ve read all of his works, including the delightful Travels with Charlie.
I have read, Gargantua and Pantagruel, War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, but not Pride and Prejudice. Sorry. I’ve read Don Quixote, and Animal Farm, and The Wind in the Willows, but not all the Harry Potter books because I like Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising Sequence of books so much more.
List Challenges has an entry: 99 Classics Books Challenge – of which I’ve read 45 according to their count, I think. Sometimes I don’t remember if I’ve read it or not because I know of it in one way or another. Maybe I saw the movie! There were only two on the list that I’d no knowledge of at all: Baltasar and Blimunda, and Os Maias. (I’ll have to research them.*) So – 45. I’ve read a hell of a lot more than those 45. Good for me? One never knows. At the end of the day, at the end of my life, will it have made a difference? One never knows.
*I learned that these two are by Portuguese authors. In reading about the novels, I’ve decided they won’t be on my list of things to read in the future. Que pena.