The Little Black Classics are back and this time, they’re thicker!
There’s 46 brand new “Little Black Classics” and the lovely guys at penguin have sent me a handful to review.
I’ve received the following titles;
Charlotte Bronte- Stancliffe’s Hotel
Virginia Woolf- Flush
William Shakespeare- Is this a dagger which I see before me?
Leonid Andreyev- Seven Hanged
The Yellow Book
Now when I received them I had quite a few train journeys ahead of me so I managed to read 3 and abit of them, so today you’ll be getting a review of the first three in the list above.
Written by Charlotte Bronte, Stancliffe’s Hotel is a recently discovered manuscript, dated June 1838 is a youthful work by Charlotte Bronte, then aged 22 years. This novella is set in an imaginary country, the Kingdom of Angria, the center of which plays a power struggle between the Duke of Northangerland and her son-the very Byronic Zamorna.
The level of writing and descriptive elegance was amazing, especially given that this novella preceded Jane Eyre, having loved Jane Eyre I was further surprised at the imagination of her, because I never expected this fantasy style writing to appear from her.
The story is full of irony but remains amusing throughout, the only issue I had with it was that it seemed to start off in the middle, and end in the middle of a larger story. It’s most likely because there are other novelettes written about this kingdom, so I’m missing out on the background information or back story on characters. And what happens in the end. But it may also have to do with the fact, Brontë, wrote this just for her and her siblings enjoyment, so there must be some sort of inside knowledge between Brontë, her sisters and her brother.
Overall I loved it and gave it 5/5 Stars.
Flush, written by Virginia Woolf is about Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel, Flush, and it enchants right from the opening pages. Far too tempting to resist, this was the first one I picked up out of the list. The great stream-of-consciousness novelist pulls off a “biography” of the beloved dog of Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Flush was a cocker Spaniel who grew up in the country, and then was brought to the London household of Barrett. Their first encounter give you some of the flavor of Woolf’s approach to capturing his experience.
For source material, Woolf had Barrett’s references to Flush in her poems and letters. The rest comes from her imagination of what it must have been like. Like William James characterization of a baby’s experience of the world as a “blooming, buzzing confusion”, here Woolf projects Flush’s experience of his first outing into London with his new master.
But, this would give you the pretence it is about a dog, yes?
Nope. It’s by Virginia Woolf, so it is really clever social satire: a dog’s eye view of Victorian mores, the absurdities of class consciousness, the stultifying life of London ladies (and dogs), the joys of running free in Italy, and the delights of sexual liberation. Of course Woolf has great fun writing from the point of view of one who experiences life as a sequence of vast and varied scents and we get some interesting insights into Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s life both before and after her marriage.
And I adored it.
Another 5/5 from me.
IS THIS A DAGGER WHICH I SEE BEFORE ME?
Massive Shakespeare over fan here jumped at this one. I mean a book about some of the most amazing soliloquies. With some little know speeches all display the brilliance of Shakespeare. Now this year is the 400th anniversary of his death and to review something as amazing as this is such an honour.
I love Shakespeare, I was that weird girl who when finding out we would be studying Romeo and Juliet I went out and bought a copy to read, read it in the summer holidays and got A’s in all my work to do with him. I even did my A Level English final comparison on Hamlet. I love him. This book is full of so many wonders and all help capture some of the most important parts of Shakespeare’s work.
Having multiple copies of Shakespeare’s work & a complete collection this mini book is perfect when you want a reminder of your favourite play. From Henry VIII to As You Like It. This is my most favourite “Little Black” and I will continue to read it.
My most favourite point of this collection is the following;
Hang there, my verse, in witness of my love:
And thou, thrice-crowned queen of night, survey
With thy chaste eye, from thy pale sphere above,
Thy huntress’ name that my full life doth sway.
O Rosalind! these trees shall be my books
And in their barks my thoughts I’ll character;
That every eye which in this forest looks
Shall see thy virtue witness’d every where.
Run, run, Orlando; carve on every tree
The fair, the chaste and unexpressive she.
But then again I do just love As You Like It having auditioned at the Central School of Speech and Drama with a piece from the play. It really has a soft place in my heart.
This book as you may have guessed is 5/5.
So there you are, that’s my reviews of three of the brand new Little Black Classics. I hope to finish the next two soon and get a review up for those.