It's funny how once Autumn arrives how my reading mood changes. I seem to read more the final quarter of the year than any other time. Maybe when it first starts to become cool at night, I just find myself staring more at my books than wanting to walk outside. Certainly I've been reading some of the leatherbound books I've bought in recent years (recently finished re-reading Thoreau's Walden and might write a review of it shortly; also just begun reading Hugo's Les Miserables in both French and in the Easton Press edition of the original English translation) and I'm tempted by the idea of setting up a specialized blog just for reviews of "classics" after I've posted them here or on Gogol's Overcoat. Redundancy is never an issue when it comes to getting people to read things that I have written, n'est ce pas?
Speaking of "classics," there have been occasional moments where I've toyed with the idea of compiling lists of possible "canonical" literatures, but with an interest in hybrids, of those works who can influence multiple societies and cultures. For example, having Faulkner in not just a list of Southern literature, but also Latin American for his influence on the Boom Generation. Sappho and Byron. De Sade and Mirbeau. Combinations like and unlike these. Things that could shape world views and how we treat fellow human beings. Such a corpus could say much more than just reiterating whatever socio-cultural "party line" you might want to follow when it comes to literature and its value today.
But for now, I'd like to dip back in to contemplating just what Hugo was saying through that sinner Jean Valjean. Some things are ever a pleasure no matter how many times one has read it in the past or how long it has been since the last read. Always something new to discover in certain literary works, if only we are willing to allow ourselves to be transformed by what we encounter within.