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Thursday, 31 December 2015

The Classics Club - My Reading List

I was recently introduced to “The Classics Club” via Jacqui Wine’s Journal and after stewing over the idea for a few weeks, delving into my shelves of unread material and some research I have decided to jump on board too. For more information about the club go here 

Members are asked to put together a list of at least fifty classics they intend to read and blog about at some point within the next five years. As I am always up for a challenge the idea appealed to me very much.

As you all know my bent here is towards literature in translation, with the oft quoted figure of 3% of all published books being in translation so serious under representation. And when you’re talking under representation only 30% of translated works are written by women, when you start to look for “classics” this figure becomes alarmingly low. Therefore, I have put together a list with strong female representation (twenty-nine of the fifty are by female writers), my small contribution in bringing classic translated works by women to your attention may garner a few new readers for these seriously overlooked works.  Thanks heaps to the champion of “women in translation” Bibilio, feminist book blogger Naomi at “The Writes Of Woman” and Chelsea at "The Globally Curious"  for their contributions and suggestions. I’ll be reading and blogging about their suggested works for years to come.

I could have easily filled a list with Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Camus but in the true spirit of under representation I have selected a raft of classics from the less obvious writers, however ones who are writers of classics in their native tongue. It includes Nobel Prize winners, LGBT writers from generations ago, Asian champions and writers from most continents (no Australians or North Americans sorry). There are a few familiar names and works, ones that are on my shelves…unread to date!!!

My list is in alphabetical order by surname, includes the country of origin (birth and residence in some circumstances) and a publication date for the original text if I could locate it. A list that covers over 1,100 years of writing, I intend to read these fifty works over the next five years, hopefully completing my journey well before 31 December 2020.

  1. A Woman Sibilla Aleramo (Italy 1906)
  2. Labyrinths (selected stories & other writings) Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina collection released 1962)
  3. The Widow Ching Pirate Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina 1933)
  4. The Book of Sand and Shakespeare’s memory Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina 1975 & 1983)
  5. La Femme De Gilles Madeleine Bourdouxhe (Belgium 1937)
  6. Axel Bo Carpelan (Finland 1986)
  7. Selected Works (translated by Edith Grossman) Juana Inés de la Cruz (Spain 1651-1695)
  8. The Princess of Cleves Madame de Lafayette (France 1678)
  9. After The Divorce Grazia Deledda (Italy 1902)
  10. Mother of 1084 Mahasweta Devi (Bangladesh/India 1975)
  11. Breast Stories Mahasweta Devi (Bangladesh/India translated 1997)
  12. Old Women Mahasweta Devi (Bangladesh/India translated 1999)
  13. And This Is The Light Lea Goldberg (Israel 1946)
  14. The Shadow of Kamakhya Indira Goswami (Assam/India – various dates Short Story Collections)
  15. The Moth Eaten Howdah of a Tusker Indira Goswami (Assam/India – 1988)
  16. Hunger Knut Hamsun (Norway 1890)
  17. Growth of the Soil Knut Hamsun (Norway 1917)
  18. Victoria Knut Hamsun (Norway 1898)
  19. En Route J.K. Huysmans (France 1895)
  20. I Burn Paris Bruno Jasieński (Poland 1928)
  21. Kassandra and the Wolf Margarita Karapanou (Greece 1974)
  22. The Sound of the Mountain Yasunari Kawabata (Japan 1949-1954)
  23. House of the Sleeping Beauties Yasunari Kawabata (Japan 1961)
  24. The Sufferings of Prince Sternenhoch: A grotesque Tale of Horror Ladislav Klima (Czechoslovakia 1928)
  25. Susanna Gertrud Kolmar (Germany 1933)
  26. The Saga of Gosta Berling Selma Lagerlöf (Sweden 1936)
  27. A Breath of Life Clarice Lispector (Brazil 1978 posthumous publication)
  28. Ague Viva Clarice Lispector (Brazil 1973)
  29. The Passion According to G.H. Clarice Lispector (Brazil 1964)
  30. Spring Snow Yukio Mishima (Japan 1969)
  31. Runaway Horses Yukio Mishima (Japan 1969)
  32. The Temple of Dawn Yukio Mishima (Japan 1970)
  33. The Decay of the Angel Yukio Mishima (Japan 1971)
  34. Complete Works and Other Stories Augusto Monterroso (Honduras/Guatemala 1959)
  35. Suite Française Irène Némirovsky (Ukraine published posthumously in 2004)
  36. Gargantua and Pantagruel François Rabelais (France 1532-1552)
  37. The Time Of The Doves Mercè Rodoreda (Spain/Catalan 1962)
  38. My Christina and Other Stories Mercè Rodoreda (Spain/Catalan various dates)
  39. The Bridge of Beyond Simone Schwarz-Bart (Guadeloupe 1972)
  40. The Tale of Genji Murasaki Shikibu (Japan 1000-1012)
  41. The Charterhouse of Parma Stendhal (France 1839)
  42. Seven Japanese Tales Junichiro Tanizaki (Japan various translated 1963)
  43. Moscow In The Plague Year Marina Tsvetaeva (Russia 1918-1920)
  44. The Torrents of Spring Ivan Turgenev (Russia 1872)
  45. The Wreath Sigrid Undset (Norway 1920-22)
  46. The Wife Sigrid Undset (Norway 1920-22)
  47. The Cross Sigrid Undset (Norway 1920-22)
  48. The Clouds Float North Yu Xuanji (Chinese approx. 844-868/869)
  49. Alexis Marguerite Yourcenar (Belgium/France 1929)
  50. Memoirs of Hadrian Marguerite Yourcenar (Belgium/France 1951)



Feel free to leave comments about my selection, any suggestions I have obviously missed and I hope you follow me on this journey discovering older works in between my efforts to follow the yearly translation prize awards.

5 comments:

Brona Joy said...

Fascinating list. I've only read 2 of the books on your list & sadly haven't heard of most of them. But I guess that's part of your mission - to bring these books to light!

It's great to have another Aussie blogger in the Classics Club too :-)

Tony Messenger said...

Thanks for stopping by Brona, I'm chuffed that a fellow Aussie takes the time to look at a (predominately) translated literature blog. You are right, the list contains a number of books that have been "lost", or in some cases due to a lack of translation are yet to be "discovered" and therefore I think bringing them to light is part of the mission. I presume you were similar to me, in that the agonising over finalising the list was a daunting time indeed.

Brona Joy said...

Some of my favourite books in recent times have been translations - Perfume, Like Water for Chocolate, the Elena Ferrante books, Zola, Murakami....

The daunting part of my list is that it keeps growing! I started with 50 books four yrs ago, but it's now up to 125. I probably should have started a 2nd list like many other CCer's but I preferred to keep all my classics together in one spot on my blog.

And I'm tempted to add more when I spot new lists like yours :-)

Tony Messenger said...

Glad you've enjoyed the wonderful world of translation - there is so much out there, unfortunately a very very limited amount by women though (about 30% of the 3% which is translated so approx 1% of all books!!!)

I wouldn't dare adding to my list as I'd never get to finish it, being a shadow jury member of the Man Booker International Prize and committing to reading the Best Translated Book Award longlist too means I already commit to 37 (or so) books each year - adding more classics!!! My TBR pile would be horrendous.

I stopped by and checked your list today, a great array - and I must say a very neat and well presented blog - almost inspired me to clean up mine, but I've reading to do.

Lynn Gerrard said...

Brona's way ahead of me, I've not read any of these! And almost all the titles are new to me! Cool!