Conrad, James, Orwell, and Perkins. Oh My!

Reading four classic authors is not easy. But doing it while you’re sick? I don’t know how I did it!

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I haven’t had much chance to catch up on what I’ve been reading lately. Between kids, work, school, and being severely sick I can hardly focus on more than one thing at a time! I’m surprised I’ve even been able to get any reading done, but somehow, I have. Four things I’ve read were for my literary theory class and even though I didn’t have a choice but to read them, they still count as my winter reading because I couldn’t just skim through them (not going to lie, I did try!): The Beast in the Jungle by Henry James Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, 1984 by George Orwell, and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

The Beast in the Jungle

Henry James is a hard read for me because I’m not a fan of his writing style. The first thing I ever read by him was The Turn of the Screw and by the end, I did like it and was glad I stuck through it. The Beast in the Jungle was no different as far as having a hard time reading it. If you’ve never read it before, it follows a narrator who believes something big is going to happen in his life, but he doesn’t know what or when. He spends his life waiting for it with a companion and only at the end does he begin to realize that maybe this big event has already happened, and he’s wasted a life he could have spent differently. While I’m not a fan of his writing style, I did enjoy the story and the meaning he was trying to get across in this story. If you enjoy life lesson stories, this is definitely a must-read class short story.

Heart of Darkness

I despised Heart of Darkness. The pace is slow, and I easily got distracted because of the drawn-out paragraphs. This novella is narrated by the character Charles Marlow who talks about a voyage he took up the Congo River into the heart of Africa. If this wasn’t required reading I needed for two assignments, I would have stopped reading after five pages. I’m interested in hearing opinions on this novella from others who have read it and liked it because I couldn’t find anything I liked about it. Not the writing style, the themes, the plot, or even the overall message.

1984

This is the second time in my life that I’ve read George Orwell’s 1984 and I had the same feelings about it that I did in high school. I like the overall message and themes, but I am not a fan of the writing for this particular book because it seems slow. I’ve read multiple works by Orwell and this is by far one of my least favorites as far as readability. This was the only book on my preapproved booklist for the class that interested me though, so I reread it. I am glad I did though because I’m analyzing specific passages through both Marxist and psychoanalytical theories which are providing more into the story that I didn’t comprehend fully in high school.

The Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper is one of my favorite short stories and I enjoy picking at it through a feminist theory perspective which I’ve never done before. I’ve done essays on themes and messages, but I never focused on the ways in which a feminist lens could analyze the story. Especially regarding gender and marital roles. My favorite thing about this story is the writing style. The first time I ever read it I felt pulled in, compelled almost, and in the end, I felt like I too had gone crazy like the narrator. I’m not sure if I would have the same love for Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s writing that I do if I had read any of her other works first. Any time I’m asked about a classic female author (which happens a lot because I’m the only English major in my group of friends), Perkins is always in my top five.

– Chelsea ❤

9 comments on “Conrad, James, Orwell, and Perkins. Oh My!”

  1. Chelsea, wow. You really pushed yourself. I will have to explore The Yellow Wallpaper, not a writer I am familiar with. Really enjoyed the honesty of your reviews, this is a tough bunch to wade through. Kudos to you! : )

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Chelsea, Welcome back! You have been busy 🙂 The Heart of Darkness is a challenging read, though I do think it is worthwhile and am one of the few who enjoyed reading it — I liked the challenge of it as well as the premise of the book. It was the story that kept me moving through that one.
    I am glad to see your open reviews here– they are refreshing! Aside from The Yellow Wallpaper, did any of the other three reads pop out as one to remember?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Borkali, I’m hoping things will start slowing down now! I need a break 🙂 I enjoyed the message in The Beast in the Jungle which was to stop waiting for some big thing to happen because life will pass you by without you having actually lived. That really spoke to me because I feel like that happens a lot in my generation, or they expect things they think they deserve without having worked for anything. It was John Marcher’s arrogance that something big was going to happen to him that made him miss out on an entirely different life.

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  3. Whew! Four classics, Alison, in the winter while you were sick! You deserve some kind of Literary Medal. I taught 1984 in British lit classes to high school seniors from 2000-2005. A agree that it’s not engaging writing–kind of a “it’s good for you” medicine, yet offers some concepts and characters that have become household terms. Loved teaching “The Yellow Wallpaper” to juniors in American Lit during the 1990s. Couldn’t finish Heart of Darkness–depressing and racist. Though it was a the list for extended reading in the school district curriculum, I never promoted it. The highly regarded Henry James–argh! Tedious, dull. Never finished any of his novels!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Four classics is quite a feat, though I cannot take credit for this accomplishment as it was our fellow reader Chelsea who made this post– but yes! She has been busy and sick all at the same time– what a trooper!

      Like

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