Everyone loves the classics, right? Classic cars always draw a stare. Classic rock-n-roll always brings smiles and tapping feet. Everyone still loves Lucy.
I continue this morning with my Top Three Books series. I kicked the series off last time with what I thought were the top three most influential books of all time. Today, I come at you with what are my top three classic fiction books. Let me define my term, though, before I get started. By classic I mean a work of enough age that it has stood some test of time and has been recognized by multiple generations to be superior to its peers.
To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee (Truman Capote)
Mockingbird was the first novel I ever read that made me question my life and the injustice of the world I lived in. It also forced me to identify with other people, particularly oppressed people. I read the novel before I saw the movie, and have to say that as great as Gregory Peck is as Atticus Finch, the written words are far more powerful.
As you can tell by my heading, I don’t believe for a moment that Harper Lee wrote it. She may have designed the plot or even brainstormed the characters but it was definitely her good friend and childhood buddy Capote who wrote it.
The Tragedy of Hamlet, The Prince of Denmark, William Shakespeare
Many people would not even think that Hamlet is Shakespeare’s best work. Romeo and Juliet gets more cultural thrift–with constant retellings (For a zombie Romeo and Juliet, see Warm Bodies) and King Lear is so pitied while Othello makes us all shiver with fear at our own jealousy but Hamlet, to me, is the best. It is the bard at his epoch of creative power. Most years I reread it during Lent for its themes of death and mortality.
David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
Dickens’ most famous novel is A Christmas Carol. I like that one, and even wrote a tribute of sorts to it in my first book, but there is something about the character of David Copperfield that I identify with. To my mind at least, Copperfield is more believable that Pip in Great Expectations and the book is far more enjoyable than A Tale of Two Cities, although A Tale of Two Cities has the greatest opening line ever.
Let me emphasize, again, these are my top three. You can tell from the list that I lean toward British classics. That is not because I haven’t read Dostoyevsky, Cervantes, or Hemingway, because I love them all a great deal. It is simply that these three are at the top of my list. I’ll resist the urge to expand the list, although, if I did, I’m quite certain that number four would be The Picture of Dorian Gray.
I’d be very interested to know what your top three classic fiction works are.
image from wikipedia