Friday, December 10, 2010

I may have officially gone insane.

I've decided to sign up for the Victorian Literature Challenge 2011, and as I'm a "go big or go home" kinda gal, I'm shooting for the top tier: Desperate Remedies, which will involve reading 15+ volumes of Victorian literature. I'm pretty sure I can handle it. After all, I read Dickens compulsively when I was a child and I took an upper-division Victorian Lit class my first semester at Vanderbilt and made an A in it. Despite my fairly extensive reading in that subject, I still haven't come close to everything. After all, Dickens was only one guy and the class I took primarily focused on poetry. So while I've read a crapton of Tennyson, the Rossetti siblings, Robert Barrett Browning and, of course Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browing, there's still a lot of ground for me to cover.

Case in point: I have been chronically unable to finish Wuthering Heights. Seriously. The same goes for The Woman in White (due in large part to Collins' condescending treatment of women. It's hard to read and give your book The Finger simultaneously...) and much of Oscar Wilde. I should probably remedy this (in the same way I should remedy the fact that I've never read a Jane Austen novel despite being a twenty-six-year-old woman who majored in English). It will make me better read and well-rounded-- or at least, that's what I tell myself when I'm engaging in the literary equivalent of eating carrots. I hate carrots. Blergh.

Anyway, here's a tentative list of what I'd like to do:

  1. Finish Wuthering Heights and The Woman in White.
  2. Read The Picture of Dorian Gray
  3. Re-Read Heart of Darkness and throw in a viewing of the redux cut of Apocalypse Now
  4. Read Middlemarch by George Eliot
  5. Read something by Dickens I haven't read before (or in a long time)
  6. Re-Read Bram Stoker's Dracula
  7. Read Thackeray's Vanity Fair (even if it kills me)
  8. Read Jany Eyre (see above)
  9. Read something by Lewis Carroll I haven't read before.
  10. Re-read the more complicated Sherlock Holmes mysteries.
I'll leave the next five spots open.

I've decided to count re-reads in this list simply because it's been 10+ (sometimes 20+) years since I read some of these books the first time. I mean, come on, I was eleven when I read Dracula. and it's almost certain I wasn't capable of fully appreciating it at such a young age. The same applies to Dickens, Conan Doyle, Carroll, and the other authors I read as a kid. I'm sure some of them will be like new. 

I'm really looking forward to reading Wilde. I've heard so many good things about him, but he was never really covered in any of the classes I took. I did read The Importance of Being Earnest in high school and enjoyed it, but I never got the chance to enjoy is prose. I'll probably throw in some early sci-fi (like R.L. Stevenson and H. G. Wells, even though they're not considered Victorians by some) and possibly a few volumes of poetry. I never did read much Swinburne back in the day, despite getting my fill of Tennyson, the Brownings, Kipling, and the Pre-Raphaelites. I may re-read Christina Rossetti, as she holds a special place in my heart.

I also have very pre-Raphaelite hair: long and wavy. Well, maybe moreso if I were blonde.

We'll see how this experiment goes.


  1. Oooh - I'm excited for you!

    Also, I majored in English lit and have read all of Jane Austen's novels. They were my teenage reads. So you must must read one!

    Also - read some Thomas Hardy. I'm recommending him to everyone - beginning to think I should have just made it a rule to read at least one! Haha!

  2. +JMJ+

    I'm so envious that you were able to take a paper on Victorian Lit. I was planning to do that when I was in uni, too, but they didn't offer it in my last year. =(

    And here's some encouragement for Vanity Fair! It took me two weeks to get through it: I'm obviously not dead yet and it is still one of the best reading experiences of my life (although not one I'd repeat on a whim).

    I'm doing this challenge, too. We have Dorian Grey and Dracula in common. =)

  3. Bethany-- I'll definitely look into the Hardy, thanks for the tip! I don't recall having read him, but I may have forgotten.

    Enbrethiliel- Majoring in English killed my attention span. I have a hard time finishing a lot of long, dense novels these days. Woe is me :-P

  4. Lauren... Read "The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins instead of "The Woman in White."

    And I am a little shocked that you haven't read "Jane Eyre" or finished "Wuthering Heights"... Shocked, I tell you!