Tag Archives: classic

Happy Birthday, P&P!

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

your hands are cold

I honor it with my two favorite quotes, both spoken by Lizzie:

“I am the happiest creature in the world. Perhaps other people have said so before, but not one with such justice. I am happier even than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh.”

“But people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them forever.”

And the first proposal scene from the BBC version (Colin Firth on a Monday morning; you’re welcome):

And last, the soundtrack from the 2005 Joe Wright version via Spotify, composed by Dario Marianelli and performed by Jean-Yves Thibaudet.

Happy Birthday, Pride and Prejudice!

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Holmes, Sherlock Holmes

the iconic Holmes look

Pretty much anyone who has known me in the past, oh, two or three years, knows that I’m obsessed with Sherlock Holmes. I’ve always had a love of the Victorian era, as well as intelligent, fast-paced gothic tales, but I will admit that it took reading about Guy Ritchie’s 2009 film to get me into 221B Baker Street and the rest of Holmes’ world. Since then, I’ve read every single one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories about the iconic detective. And maybe it’s because I’ve been looking or maybe it’s because Robert Downey, Jr. inspired people to bring him back to life, but Sherlock is everywhere these days.

First of all, there’s a second movie called A Game of Shadows coming out at the end of this year (in which we get a lot of Moriarty action, I hear, and Stephen Fry as Mycroft(!)). The trailer is here:

Beyond Hollywood, there’s a fantastically adapted modern-day interpretation of the Sherlock Holmes stories in the form of a mini-series on the BBC (the first series was a cruelly brief three episodes, but they are currently filming a second, and to my knowledge whole, series). It’s called simply, Sherlock, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch (not a name you forget easily) as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson (busy guy, what with The Hobbit filming currently as well). The show practically uses the original stories as scripts for each episode, with clever exceptions where necessary to make modern little details like transportation, technology, acquisition of knowledge, etc. Its trailer is here:

how many pipes does one man need?

And while movies and TV shows are all well and good, I much prefer pages to screens. However, as I said before, I’ve read every story. Of course, I love going back and rereading them from time to time (the novels are long enough for a day or two’s time and the stories are perfect for before-bed reading), but it’s such a fantastic moment to discover something new. And I’m waiting for two of them.

The first is released October 25th and is an anthology of stories written by popular, modern-day authors and inspired by the Holmes tales. Titled A Study in Sherlock (a play off Doyle’s first ever Holmes novel A Study in Scarlet), the collection is positively bursting with names: Alan Bradley, Lee Child, Neil Gaiman, and Laura Lippman, just to name a few. I, for one, have high hopes. It was preordered weeks ago, and the countdown has finally begun.

what an enigmatic title!

The second new addition to the Holmes repertoire is a new story, written similarly to the way Doyle himself wrote his. The novel has been sanctioned by the Conan Doyle estate, and promises to be a thrilling story presented as if it was written by Holmes (or Watson) at the time at which the events took place, but sealed with instructions not to open it for 100 years, which I think is just the cleverest of touches. The new book is called The House of Silk; it’s written by Anthony Horowitz; and it comes out November 1st. I can’t wait.

And whatever shall I do to while away the hours as I wait? Why, plan my Halloween costume, of course. That’s right. I’m going to be Sexy Sherlock Holmes. “Can it be done?” you ask. Well, you just wait. There’s proof of that to come.

Jillian Tamaki and the Penguin Threads

I read an article a few months ago about Penguin’s plans for a new collection, and I should have known then that it would be fabulous, because what has Penguin ever done that’s not fabulous? But wow. I pre-ordered these beauties the moment I laid eyes on them. Bravo, Penguin.

As a part of its Fall 2011 collection, Penguin plans to release these delightful covers as part of its Penguin Threads series. The publishing house commissioned artist Jillian Tamaki to design hand-sewn covers of three classics: Jane Austen’s Emma, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, and Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty (links are to pre-order each from Amazon).

such detail!

Tamaki sketched the illustrations before stitching these designs with a needle and thread. The final covers are sculpt-embossed, maintaining some of the tactile texture of the original threads designs, and are full wraparound images with french flaps.

love the hair, giiiiirl

Although each book is new to the Penguin Classics Deluxe series, it seems Penguin chose these three books for various unrelated reasons. This will be the first standalone edition of Emma, this year marks the centennial of The Secret Garden‘s publication, and Black Beauty features a new foreword written by Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley.

my favorite

the wraparound

Happy Birthday, Walt Whitman!

the birthday boy

Today is 192 years after Walt Whitman was born and 119 years after his death. In honor of those 72 years in between, I celebrate the great American writer’s life with a humble post. I got the idea from a new blog I’m enjoying called Letters of Note. Today, they published a letter written by contemporary and friend Mark Twain to Whitman for his 70th birthday.

In May of 1889, Twain wrote the following beautiful letter of congratulations to Walt Whitman, the indisputably influential poet behind, most notably, Leaves of Grass. The cause for celebration was Whitman’s upcoming birthday; the imminence of which saw Twain pen not just a birthday wish, but a stunning 4-page love letter to human endeavor, as seen during Whitman’s lifetime.

The images of the actual letter are courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and a transcript of the letter is copied below.


Hartford, May 24/89

To Walt Whitman:

You have lived just the seventy years which are greatest in the world’s history & richest in benefit & advancement to its peoples. These seventy years have done much more to widen the interval between man & the other animals than was accomplished by any five centuries which preceded them.

good ol' Sammy C

What great births you have witnessed! The steam press, the steamship, the steel ship, the railroad, the perfected cotton-gin, the telegraph, the phonograph, the photograph, photo-gravure, the electrotype, the gaslight, the electric light, the sewing machine, & the amazing, infinitely varied & innumerable products of coal tar, those latest & strangest marvels of a marvelous age. And you have seen even greater births than these; for you have seen the application of anesthesia to surgery-practice, whereby the ancient dominion of pain, which began with the first created life, came to an end in this earth forever; you have seen the slave set free, you have seen the monarchy banished from France, & reduced in England to a machine which makes an imposing show of diligence & attention to business, but isn’t connected with the works. Yes, you have indeed seen much — but tarry yet a while, for the greatest is yet to come. Wait thirty years, & then look out over the earth! You shall see marvels upon marvels added to these whose nativity you have witnessed; & conspicuous above them you shall see their formidable Result — Man at almost his full stature at last! — & still growing, visibly growing while you look. In that day, who that hath a throne, or a gilded privilege not attainable by his neighbor, let him procure his slippers & get ready to dance, for there is going to be music. Abide, & see these things! Thirty of us who honor & love you, offer the opportunity. We have among us 600 years, good & sound, left in the bank of life. Take 30 of them — the richest birth-day gift ever offered to poet in this world — & sit down & wait. Wait till you see that great figure appear, & catch the far glint of the sun upon his banner; then you may depart satisfied, as knowing you have seen him for whom the earth was made, & that he will proclaim that human wheat is worth more than human tares, & proceed to organize human values on that basis.

Mark Twain

How lovely. And so, as tribute to the recipient of this birthday letter, go forth and sound your barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world!

Summer Reading for Two

I am an avid reader. For as long as I can remember, a great majority of my free time has been spent reading books. In the years 2005-2008, I even made lists of 40 books that I wanted to read over the course of the year, understanding that each list needed to be flexible and impermanent, since the order in which I read the book depended on my mood and I also could not predict whims and recommendations so far in advance. Anyway, when I found myself deep into my only truly serious relationship, I realized that I either needed to give up some of the time I wanted to devote to reading OR find a way to combine the two.

At first, my boyfriend and I sat on opposite ends of the couch and read our own books, pausing to discuss plot twists, inspirational moments, etc., but remaining essentially in separate worlds. However, when you love two things so much, sharing them fully is more fun. So we started reading to each other. It began haphazardly on a road trip… he was driving, so I became his own personal audiobook. It worked for us. When stationary, we switch off every few chapters and make it interesting with voices and accents and dramatic inflection. There have been times that we’ve stayed up all night reading aloud to finish a book. Nerdy, yes, very, but pretty cool too.

We read  the entire Harry Potter series together a few months ago, which took a very long time. We took a bit of a break after that, going back to our respective libraries and preferences for a while. We took The Outsiders with us on a weekend getaway more recently, but last night, we decided that it’s time to begin again with true gusto… so we started a summer list.

Lewis Carroll

1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll

(Me: reread; Him: new)

I’ve read them; my boyfriend has not (which is often the case with our choices as I am such a pushy recommender of books). He realized how unfamiliar he was with the actual stories when we went to see the Tim Burton film in theaters. He’s going to love how trippy they are.

Mark Twain

2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

(Me: reread; Him: new)

We were discussing British and American authors once and trying to figure out our favorites’ contemporaries and international counterparts when it came out that my boyfriend had never read Huck Finn. We (I) decided that this travesty needed to be eradicated from our lives immediately.

Mark Twain

3. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain

(Me: reread; Him: new)

Of course, you can’t talk about Huck Finn without talking about Tom Sawyer. And similarly, you can’t have read Huck Finn without also reading Tom Sawyer. I know the rules. Added bonus: we are going to have so much fun with all those ridiculously Southern accents.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

4. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

(Me: reread; Him: reread)

We’ve both read Gatsby, but it’s been a while for each of us, and it’s such an important book (especially to me), it was a no brainer to add this one to the list. Also, with the on and off discussion of a Baz Luhrmann remake film adaptation with Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy, and Tobey Maguire as Nick, we are curious to read it with them in mind.

William Golding

5. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

(Me: new; Him: reread)

This is one that my boyfriend has read and I have not. He seems to really have enjoyed it, even though it was a required read in one of his high school English classes (a circumstance which often killed his desire to read a book). I don’t even know very much about it, except that it is about an anarchist society and it is often considered a new classic by most’s standards, which is enough for me.

I see now that our list is made up of books read in one’s youth or adolescence, books that shape one’s thoughts and philosophies and ideas about the world. This was unintentional, although it should make for some very interesting discussion along the way.

Other possibilities we considered were Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, and Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, all of which would be new to both of us (with the exception of Kavalier and Clay, which he has read before).

I’d be happy to have suggestions, recommendations, comments, thoughts, etc. about the books on our list or perhaps the ones that aren’t. No matter what, it ought to be a pretty good summer.