williamhenry3
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 11:46 am
Cast my vote, please, for The Great Gatsby[/i] as the finest novel written by an American.
0 Replies
 
Debacle
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 05:48 pm
Will Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter become a classic? I don't see how it can fail. It's a delightfully witty treatment of fugues and canons, logic and truth, geometry, recursion, syntactic structures, the nature of meaning, Zen Buddhism, paradoxes, brain and mind, reductionism and holism, ant colonies, concepts and mental representations, translation, computers and their languages, DNA, proteins, the genetic code, artificial intelligence, creativity, consciousness and freewill (sometimes even art and music, of all things! - to quote the author), all being "a metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit of Lewis Carroll," as Hofstadter says.

To further quote the author: "In a word, GEB is a very personal attempt to say how it is that animate beings can come out of inanimate matter. What is a self, and how can a self come out of stuff that is as selfless as a stone or a puddle? What is an "I", and why are such things found (at least so far) only in association with, as poet Russell Edson once wonderfully phrased it, "teetering bulbs of dread and dream" -- that is, only in association with certain kinds of gooey lumps encased in hard protective shells mounted atop mobile pedestals that roam the world on pairs of slightly fuzzy, jointed stilts?"
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LarryBS
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 07:46 pm
debacle - I was on Anna Maria I. today. Its been cold here the last few weeks so it was chilly and windy there. But that keeps people away, and its nice to go for a lonely walk along a wintery florida beach every now and then.

I have Godel,Escher,Bach too, but again, haven't read it "yet." From the look of it, it'll require about the same level of concentration as Hawking's Brief History of Time, but I'll tackle it one of these days.
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Debacle
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 09:49 pm
Yeah, Larry, it seems it's cold pretty much all over the East these days. Of course, there are different degrees of such. We've only managed to climb back up to freezing and are heading back into single digits over the next coupla days. Not your typical FL cold snap. BTW, I'm in southern Indiana.

I don't imagine things are exactly jumpin' at Rotten Ralph's on Anna Maria Island. Do you know the place? It's has the sort of "spit and sawdust" atmosphere I like to search out when vacationing. We used to go to Fast Eddy's "Warm Beer and Lousy Food" before Eddy absconded several years back. What a waste! ... the guy had a virtual goldmine. The main restaurant was onshore at the foot of the pier, and he also had his oyster bar in the shack out at the pier's end. Both were always packed nigh on to bursting. I think someone else is in the process of fixing up the shack on the pier. There's a whole shopping plaza now that takes in the site of Eddy's main restaurant.

I noticed on Amazon that one reader of GEB said it was like getting a college education on the cheap. Struck me as a neat way of summing it up. It's true what you say regarding comparison with Hawking's book ... the same concentration, but then sustained for 700 or so pages. Hawking's recent tome, On the Shoulders of Giants (I think that's the name, based on Newton's quote) is of a size with GEB, perhaps a bit longer, though it's pretty much confined to a history of astronomy.
0 Replies
 
LarryBS
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 10:18 pm
I just flipped through my copy of geb, which is at mid-level of my bookcase, taunting me every time I grab something from those shelves, "you still haven't read me yet you still haven't read me yet..." Someday. I heard on 60 Minutes a couple of weeks ago that Hawking had a new book out, but I haven't seen it yet, sounds interesting. I tend to flip between fiction and non-fiction - I'm reading Wittgenstein's Poker right now, then Brunelleschi's Dome, then hopefully The Geography of the Imagination by Guy Davenport - I've heard a lot of good things about that book.

I haven't been to rotten ralph's but I did go to eddy's a few times a long time ago. I haven't been up that way in a while. There are some good places around downtown Sarasota, Lido Key, Siesta Key - I've stuck to that area lately. "Cold" today was jeans not shorts, and just a bit too cold for a shirt and sweater - needed a coat too.
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 10:39 pm
Dickens? A toss-up between "Bleak House" and "Our Mutual Friend."
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larry richette
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jan, 2003 10:13 pm
Everybody loves GATSBY because it is short, easy to read and transparently simple to understand. The perfect literary "classic" for those with short attention spans whose intellects would be strained by Faulkner or Henry James, to name two American novelists infinitely greater than F. Scott Fitzgerald. For that matter, Fitzgerald's own TENDER IS THE NIGHT is quite as good as GATSBY but for every person who has read it there are ten thousand who have read GATSBY.
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Hazlitt
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Jan, 2003 12:27 am
The current New Yorker carries an essay or book review by Louis Menand on George Orwell. It seems that, with the passage of time, there has been some some reassessment of Orwell's work. Being an old Orwell fan, I found this to be interesting.

http://www.newyorker.com/critics/atlarge/?030127crat_atlarge
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Jan, 2003 09:25 am
Well, larry richette, I think the main reason why Gatsby has been read so much is because it's often assigned reading, either in High School or college. Why? Because it's short and fairly easy to understand. Much less work for the teacher/professor than Faulkner, etc.

Let me throw out another work which I think should be a classic. And yeah, it's easy to understand, but I stand by my assessment. I don't think that simplicity should be a strike against a work's possible classic status:

To Kill a Mockingbird
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LarryBS
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Jan, 2003 11:01 pm
hazlitt - thanks for that orwell link. I enjoyed Down and Out in Paris and London, and Keep the Aspidistra Flying, which they made into a so-so movie a couple of years ago.

Loved To Kill a Mockingbird, which I read as an adult years after seeing the movie 20 or 30 times. I believe it is a staple in most high school reading lists, or it used to be.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jan, 2003 06:58 am
GEB sit on MY shelf, too!

Perahps we ought to do a thread on it - when a few of us have had a chance to finish it!


Oh - I must finish "Fury" - the 4th draws ever closer - mind you, 'twill be the fifth here...

I think you underestimate Gatsby, Larry - 'tis a little gem, in my view - though it is a long time since I read it. I liked "Tender" too...
0 Replies
 
LarryBS
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jan, 2003 08:36 am
I enjoyed Fitzgerald's short stories a couple of years ago - especially the one having to do with a girl cutting her hair. Can't remember the exact storyline. But I believe revenge was sweet at the end.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jan, 2003 03:00 pm
"Bernice Bobs Her Hair"?
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LarryBS
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Jan, 2003 02:13 am
Thats the one.
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larry richette
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Feb, 2003 12:19 pm
Dlowan, I don't underestimate GATSBY, I just don't overestimate it. It is wonderful for what it is. But compared to the great Faulkner novels or even the best work of Willa Cather and Nathaniel West, it looks like a minor accomplishment. I prefer TENDER IS THE NIGHT even though it is more flawed because Fitzgerald was working on a broader canvas with richer themes. I do wish GATSBY had not become an excuse for people NOT reading more of the really great 20th century American novels, like LIGHT IN AUGUST, ABSOLOM, ABSOLOM, THE SOUND AND THE FURY, A LOST LADY, THE PROFESSOR'S HOUSE, MY MORTAL ENEMY, MISS LONELYHEARTS, A COOL MILLION, THE RECOGNITIONS, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, and many more.Too many people read GATSBY and stop there.
0 Replies
 
Sirius Black
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Aug, 2004 01:33 pm
Is The Catcher In The Rye considered a classic?
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Aug, 2004 01:37 pm
I imagine it is so considered by many people. Personally, i had no sympathy for Holden Caulfield. I considered him a self-absorbed, self-pitying whiner. Just my opinion of the character, the technical skill exhibited by Salinger is not to be doubted--once again, in my opinion.
0 Replies
 
Sirius Black
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Aug, 2004 01:43 pm
What books do you consider classics?
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Aug, 2004 01:45 pm
Well, they've all been mentioned in this thread, and due to a present deadline, i haven't time to list them here. I would advise reading this thread, as i believe every book i would list is already listed here.

I don't wish to be rude, it's just that i haven't time for the detailed response which would be necessary to adequately answer your question.
0 Replies
 
Child of the Light
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Feb, 2006 12:47 pm
No mention of Sinclair Lewis anywhere? Come on guys, for an ample period (1920s) no one outshined Lewis. Making this all the more amazing are his contemporaries-Wharton, Fitzgerald, TS Elliot etc. One of the most impressive qualities Lewis possessed, however, was undoubtedly his impeccable writing. Classic training at Harvard helps, but his work was much more than a showing of remarkable grammatics, his characters and their interaction surmounted even his flawless presentation. My favorite Sinclair Lewis work would have to be Arrowsmith; Never have I loved characters like I loved Martin, Leora, and even Gottlieb-an utterly amazing book.

Currently, though, I am reading War and Peace and I am finding it awfully enjoyable. The sheer mass of War and Peace makes it somewhat difficult, but I'm becoming familiar with its many characters and the delight is such that I regret not reading earlier...If anyone wants to futher the Arrowsmith/Lewis/War and Peace discussion I'd smile and happily join you...
0 Replies
 
 

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