Great Books & the Great American novels

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Charles Bober, Jul 1, 2002.

  1. Charles Bober

    Charles Bober Stunt Coordinator

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    Admitedly, I'm not as well read as I should be. There are many awesome books that I have not read. So I've been on this kick to catch up and read all of them so I can be clued in on why these books are so highly acclaimed. I went to the library today and checked out The Grapes Of Wrath by Steinbeck.
    So my question is, is there a website like the AFI that lists all the classic books and sub-categorizes the great American novels? If not, can you guys give me a list of what I should be reading? I've only read Great Expectations, Dante's Divine Comedy, & Hamlet (well I've finished 3/4 of the the King James Bible as well). Pathetic I know.
    Help a brotha out. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. David Lawson

    David Lawson Screenwriter

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  3. Charles Bober

    Charles Bober Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for that thread. Any other suggestions that aren't the Great American Novel? Classic litrature that I need to read?
     
  4. MikeF

    MikeF Stunt Coordinator

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    Something tells me that Hamlet does not likely qualify as a Great American Novel.
     
  5. Ben Motley

    Ben Motley Supporting Actor

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  6. Pamela

    Pamela Supporting Actor

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    There Eyes Were Watching God-Zora Neal Hurston.
    A "great American novel" that seems to get buried among the more traditional offerings. Just a beautifully written book. She has such as way with words. One of the lines from her book, Dust Tracks on the Road, always stays with me—his hair was closer to his head than 99 is to 100. Very descriptive writer, with beautiful narrative.
    Geek Love-Katherine Dunn
    I couldn't even begin to describe this book. The book covers calls it a Fellini movie in ink. Also described as what a collaboration between John Irving and David Lynch would be like. By turns, comic, shocking, disturbing, and thought provoking, it offers a wonderful subtext on the cult of personality. Of course, I also find divine inspiration in the photos of Diane Arbus and Weegee.
    The Tin Drum-Günther Grass
    A "great German novel," this book is a postwar masterpiece. The plot is difficult to describe, but not unlike Geek Love, including the comedic and the perverse (ok, and a midget). The subtext of this one is deals with the human condition and the evils of Nazi Germany. It is an incredible book. His description of the horse head will stay with you for an eternity. I have read this book several times, and always find something new and compelling.
    One Hundred Years of Solitude-Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    Garcia Marquez is a modern day master, and One Hundred years of Solitude is among his best know and most read. A magical, mystical Latin-American journey about 100 years of a fictional town, through the eyes of one family. His writing is lyrical and his storytelling is inventive. Another book that begs to be read over again. Actually, you can'g go wrong with any of his books, especially Love in the Time of Cholera and The Autumn of the Patriarch.
     
  7. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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  8. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Light in August, Faulkner
    As I Lay Dying, Faulkner
    Wuthering Heights, Bronte
    For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway
    Madame Bovary, Flaubert
    The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner
    Bleak House, Dickens
    Crime and Punishment, Dostoevski
    Don Quixote, Cervantes
    The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway
    Pamela, Johnson (to understand how the novel developed as a literary form)
    Shamela, Fielding (to marvel over a superb literary retort by a contemporary--"must" reading!)

    You eventually need to read short stories, poetry, biography, essays, and other nonfiction. But start on the above (and start thinking about planning ahead: Shakespeare and Milton--seriously).

    Let me know if you would like further suggestions.

    JB
     
  9. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    Gone With the Wind, To Kill A Mockingbird, and The Grapes of Wrath are all considered Great American Novels (and films. [​IMG])
     
  10. L. Anton Dencklau

    L. Anton Dencklau Second Unit

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    More Suggestions:
    E.L Doctorow: Ragtime
    Thomas Pynchon: The Crying of Lot 49
    Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451
    William Gibson: Neuromancer
     
  11. Bill Slack

    Bill Slack Supporting Actor

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    And remember, a lot of these great novels can be downloaded for free from Project Guttenberg. I've read a few novels donwloaded and converted on my palm pilot. Makes for great reading in bed with the backlight(ish) on.
     
  12. Justin Doring

    Justin Doring Screenwriter

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    Here's an updated version of what I posted in the earlier thread:

    First, I would avoid Moby Dick until you've read A LOT of literature. Last semester I took a course entirely on Moby Dick, and it was one of the best classes I've had. We read everything from Homer to Poe, and barely scratched the surface! My professor's professor has spent a lifetime studying Moby Dick and reading 1000+ books that influenced Melville, so that will give you an idea as to the complexity of the novel. Melville's Benito Cereno is probably the best introduction to the author, as Moby Dick is, indeed, America's greatest contribution to literature; it's our Ulysses, if you will.

    Second, for an introduction to "The Great American Novel," I'd begin with Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. It's simultaneously accessible and appealing to the novice reader and inexhaustible to the scholar. Of course supplementary readings (e.g. Petronius' The Satyricon, Malory's Morte D'Arthur, Stoddard's The Rising Tide of Color, Anderson's Winesburg Ohio, Joyce's Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Eliot's The Wasteland, Cather's A Lost Lady, Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, etc.) would help one's understanding of the novel, but each one of these requires further supplemental reading, so it's an ongoing circle. Still, the perceptive reader will find that most Modern works have the same basic themes running throughout them. Good luck on your journey.
     
  13. Darren H

    Darren H Second Unit

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    I included my list of "Great American Novels" on the other thread, but if you're looking for more suggestions, along with a thorough list of essential British texts, check out the link below. It's the recommended reading list for students preparing for the University of Tennessee's Ph.D. Qualifying Exam in English (which, by the way, I passed with honors three years ago [​IMG] ).
    http://web.utk.edu/~englgsc/exam.htm
    Essential writers outside of America and England:
    - Tolstoy
    - Dostoevsky
    - Flaubert
    - Zola
    - Balzac
    - Ibsen
    - Chekhov
    - Mann
    - Nabokov
    - Proust
    - Borgia
    - Garcia Marquez
    - Dumas
    - Camus
    - Sartre
    - Voltaire
    - Pushkin
    - Brecht
    - Hugo
    - Doblin
    I haven't read them all, but I'm working on it. [​IMG]
     
  14. John Spencer

    John Spencer Supporting Actor

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    Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" contains some truly powerful anti-racist setiments. It's a severe tragedy that the general public poorly misconstrued the messages contained within.
    My favorite novels:
    The Family of Pascual Duarte by Camilo José Cela
    both The House of the Spirits and Of Love and Shadows by Isabel Allende
    Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
    The Art of Worldly Wisdom by Baltasar Gracian (not really a novel, but amazing how timeless it is considering when it was written)
    The Lord of the Rings entire trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
    The Call of the Wild by Jack London
    Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (not for the non-diligent, took me four years on and off)
    Gulliver's Travels by Johnathan Swift
    The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
    The Time Machine or War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
    Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevski
    The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper
    The Jungle by Aldous Huxley
    Animal Farm by George Orwell
    The Outsider by Albert Camus
    The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
    Billy Budd, Foretopman by Herman Melville
    All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
    It by Stephen King
    The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice
    The Cleric Quintet and The Dark Elf Trilogy by R.A. Salvatore
    That's all I can think of off the top of my head. I'm sure there's more.
    The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
     
  15. Darren H

    Darren H Second Unit

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  16. Charles Bober

    Charles Bober Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks guys, keep 'em coming. At this pace, I'll be reading for another 60 years straight. I'm very impressed with the amount of replies and even more intrigued by the diversity of literature.

    Love it. Just love it!!!!!
     
  17. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

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    This does not make the lists very often. But I recommend it.
    Of course I am on an endless search into the Mysterious and Unfathomable workings of the thought process of the creature: Male Homo Sapiens

    Could be a timely read as it has become rather urgent for America to understand the philosophy and historical culture of the middle east.

    A flamboyant megalomaniacal British citizen wrote this after his sojourn ‘going native’. By many accounts he was well respected/ received in the Desert and he was never at peace once he left it. I loved the glimpse into the mind of this fascinating creature.

    Better know as Lawrence of Arabia
    Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph
    TE Lawrence.
     
  18. Daniel Swartz

    Daniel Swartz Second Unit

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    Tai Pan by James Clavell. His sequel, Noble House, is also excellent. I was never a big fan of Shogun though.
     
  19. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

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    Catcher in the Rye
     
  20. Craig

    Craig Second Unit

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    Delcorso's Gallery - Philip Caputo
    Early From The Dance - David Payne
    Fields Of Fire - James Webb
    Sometimes A Great Notion - Ken Kesey
    The Love Hunter - Jon Hassler
     

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