I’ve fallen out of love with Victorian literature recently. I haven’t touched a classic in months. They just don’t interest me anymore. And I can only blame my Masters.
I was reading Victorian lit constantly, either the original versions or modern takes on them. I studied them *so* intensely for a year. I couldn’t escape it. Reading classics started to feel like a chore, rather than something I turned to for pleasure.
I desperately want that to change. I miss reading Victorian literature. It means so much to me. #Victober has come at the perfect time. I’m hoping it’ll give my head a wobble and make me realise why I took a Masters degree in such a specific period in literature.
#Victober is a month-long celebration of literature written between 1837 to 1901. It can be fiction or non-fiction, poetry or prose, newspapers or magazine. The hosts have set their own challenges, and there’ll be a huge read along of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and A Woman of No Importance. Each host has set their own challenges but I won’t be prioritising these. I want to rediscover my love for Victorian literature, and whittling down my TBR to very specific challenges probably won’t help with that. If you want to find out more about the challenges though, here are the announcement videos: Katie | Lucy | Ange | Kate.
JANE EYRE BY CHARLOTTE BRONTË:
This will be my fourth time reading Jane Eyre – my favourite book. I’ve been meaning to re-read all of the Brontë novels and annotate them; so far, I’ve only managed Wuthering Heights, but I’ve got Jane Eyre and Shirley up next. Jane Eyre is the reason I fell in love with Victorian literature, so I’m hoping it’ll knock some sense into me. This completes Ange’s and Kate’s challenges!
Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre emerges unbroke in spirit and integrity. she takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society allowed.
VANITY FAIR BY WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY:
I’ve put off reading Vanity Fair for so long due to its size; it’s 883 pages long. But I remind myself that I’ve read Middlemarch, so I think I can pull this one off. My edition says that it was criticised on publication for being too cynical of mankind, which really draws me in. I think this will be a masterpiece. It was also published in the same year as Jane Eyre, so it semi-completes Lucy’s challenge and fully completes Katie’s.
Becky Sharp is sly, cunning and will do anything for money and power, while her friend Amelia Sedley is good-natured but naïve. In this scandalous tale of murder, wealth and social climbing, the two women’s fortunes cross as they search for love and success across the nineteenth-century Europe in the Napoleonic Wars.
THE MOONSTONE BY WILKIE COLLINS:
I’ve only read one Wilkie Collins’ novel and that was The Woman in White. I *really* enjoyed it, though, so I’m hoping this will have the same effect on me. I wanted to read a different novel by Collins in #Victober, but haven’t got round to buying it yet, so this will have to do! I’m hoping to read this one by candlelight, which will complete the group’s challenge. As it is one of the first modern mystery novels, I think it’ll be a good one to read in a dark room with a flickering light.
When Rachel Verinder is given the Moonstone for her birthday, its theft at her party triggers a series of increasingly horrific events that seem set to ruin everyone and everything she loves. In this classic of the Victorian sensation genre, only Sergeant Cuff’s famous detective skills offer a glimpse of hope for the diamond’s helpless victim.
THE WAY OF ALL FLESH BY SAMUEL BUTLER:
I bought this one on a whim a year ago and have put off reading it until now. I don’t know why though, it sounds so interesting – the complete opposite of traditional Victorian novels and society. Butler takes everything you expect from this period and turns it on its head. I think it’ll be a good one. I haven’t heard much about Samuel Butler either, so I pray he’ll be an author I enjoy.
The awkward but likeable son of a tyrannical clergyman and a priggish mother, destined to follow his father into the church, Ernest gleefully rejects his parents’ respectability and chooses instead to find how own way in the world. Written with great humour, irony and honesty, The Way of All Flesh exploded perceptions of the Victorian middle-class family in its radical depiction of Ernest, a young man who casts of his background to discover himself.
…and that’s my TBR for #Victober. I’m keeping it short to ease myself back into reading classics, but I think it’s pretty manageable. I’ve wanted to get to these books for some time now, so I though I’d prioritise these first. If I read anymore then that’s a bonus!
I won’t be taking part in the group read along simply because I read both plays at the start of the year for uni! But I will be posting weekly updates like I did last year (let’s hope I can fit it around my current work/social/reading schedule!
Are you taking part in #Victober? What’s on your TBR? Let’s discuss it!
Thanks for reading, Lauren X