The OF Blog: A reviewing challenge for others (and myself)

Friday, January 15, 2010

A reviewing challenge for others (and myself)

I've been reading three books tonight (Le Comte de Monte-Cristo tome 2, Op Oloop, and The Quiet American) that were written over 50 years ago (and in the case of the Dumas book, over 160 years ago).  While reading them, I thought about the challenges these books might present if they were to be reviewed as if they were "new" books.

Running with this thought some, I wondered if it might be a worthwhile endeavor to implore readers of this site (many of whom are review bloggers) to consider reading and reviewing one book that was published before 1960 (doesn't matter what genre it might be in, non-fiction or poetry would be fine as well) and posting it on their blogs and sending me an email notice that it is up (email is the full name of this blog at gmail).  I would love to highlight older books and would gladly link to the blogs of those who would be willing to do this.  So how about from today to February 15, that this challenge stand for at least one pre-1960 book being read and reviewed?  Might introduce several readers to some interesting older books.

Considering reviewing either Proust or Saki for mine.  What about you?


Noel said...

I think this is a wonderful idea. I've read several pre-1960 books over the last year or so, and I considered reviewing each of them, but I simply couldn't decide whether or not I should. I constantly felt compelled to write a literary analysis instead of a review. But given this new challenge, it might just be time to tackle one.

Neth said...

I like the idea, so I'll make an effort. I've got a few laying around that would be great.

Eileen said...

This is a great idea.

I've read a couple of French Surrealist novels from the 1920s. They're both up on my blog right now.

Chad Hull said...

I recently read, enjoyed, and reviewed The Collector by John Fowles. It was in written in 1963, just missing your cut off date.

I have a self-imposed rule of not reviewing dead authors of the 'classics' such as The Count, but I'm sure I have a few other things in the stack that could work.

Greyweather said...

I love the idea, but I find myself rather torn.

Do I review an old favorite, or a classic I've been neglecting? Maybe one of each, if I can find the time.

Lsrry said...


Thanks for the link to the review! I'll post about it later in the day, but that was an excellent review, especially of the characters.

Everyone else,

Send them in! As long as I can understand the language (which I think covers most Romance languages and English), I'll post a link with commentary shortly after receiving them (unless I'm up all night coughing, as I've been tonight).

Mihai A. said...

At the beginning of the year I re-arranged my library and I was looking over the classic books. So, your challenge appeals greatly to me. I have a few promises to keep, speaking of reading, but I think that until the next month I'll be able to read one classic novel.
However, like Greyweather I have to think at what should I read, a favorite or a novel I didn't read so far?

Camilla said...

I'm way ahead of you. Most of my reviews have been pre-1960 books.

Lsrry said...


It can be an old favorite or something you've never read before.


Pfft! :P Dissertation readings don't count (I think)!

Fabio Fernandes said...

Just asked for the "new" Wyndham, Plan for Chaos - I can´t find any info on when he wrote it, but, as he died in 1969, it's very likely he wrote that circa 1960 or so. What do you think? ;-)

Joe said...

Dunno if I'll get to it (or review it if I do), but I'm thinking about Nevil Shute's Trustee from the Tool Room.

Alternately, Peter Beagle's A Fine and Private Place, which I've been meaning to get to for a couple of years. I've never read any of his novels.

Both from 1960.

Lsrry said...


That'll work for me. I just thought pre-1960 since 50 years is easier to remember than say before one is born (for others, that is; I'll always remember that I was born in 1974)


Any, either, or both of those would be great :D

Now to write a post linking to three reviews. I've spent 2/3 of the past two days in bed and I think I'm finally well enough to do some commentary for once.

Joe said...

I don't know, I think I can manage to remember that I was born in '79.

Camilla said...

Hardly any of my reviews can be directly tied to my dissertation, Larry. The only one I can think of was the collection of Arthur Conan Doyle's letters, and that was tenuous at best.

James said...

I somehow managed to miss this post, but I will surely be participating. I don't think I have anything quite that old beyond a volume of Sherlock Holmes and a couple collections of H.P. Lovecraft, neither of which I have an intention of reviewing (because I dislike reviewing short fiction), so I will have to find something. I am rather lacking when it comes to having read the classics, so that seems a good place to start.

nycfan said...

Saki. Proust is too contemporary in the sense of being an icon of Literature. This will be true regardless of how you feel about him. You won't be able to help engaging with all he represents.
Actually, E.L. Fay's choices seemed perfect. Influential books in their day, but which are barely read in the present. (Aragon is still well known, but mainly for his poetry and his role as one of the main intellectual figures of France for so many decades).

Lsrry said...

Valid points, although when I issued this challenge, it wasn't necessarily to read works that would be estranged from "modern" sensibilities. I said I was considering Proust mainly because I haven't yet read his work. But my first review for this will be a Dumas novel, The Count of Monte Cristo (which I read in French this time). That one did have some disconnect this time around. But I've also read stories hundreds of years old (some in their native languages) that were "timeless" in approach and in story, so it's hard to say what will happen...unless I were to choose to review a Bulwer-Lytton novel :P

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