A conversation I had recently with Ethereal has just jumped back into my mind. We were talking about great books, and I thought a thread on great books would be interesting. Since this is an international forum I think it'd be a good idea because it'd open our eyes to works from different cultures and nationalities. Right, here's what you do:
List the author and the title and then reproduce the first paragraph, and then at least one quote that really stood out to you from the book, then say what the books about and what you personally got out of it, why you thought it was a great book.
I'll skip the first paragraphs in this work if that's ok. It doesn't really hot up until a few pages in. This transcript of the stage play is hilarious, it's soooo funny, anyone who can get hold of a copy should really give it a go. It's about two blokes in 1800's England who are both determined to convince their lovers that their first name is 'Ernest', since the girls both have a special affection for that name. The girls come to find out about eachother and assume their blokes are cheating on them and the nastiness that ensues is just a riot. Also there's the funny twist that one of these blokes (Jack) was found as a baby in a handbag, and so his lovers mother will not agree to the wedding:
Oscar Wilde's - 'The importance of being Ernest'
Jack: "Is that clever?"
Algernon: "It is perfectly phrased! And quite as true as any observation is civilised life should be"
Jack: "I am sick to death of cleverness. Everybody is clever nowadays. You can't go anywhere without meeting clever people. The thing has become an absolute public nuisance. I wish go goodness we had a few fools left"
Algernon: "We have"
Jack: "I should extremely like to meet them. What do they talk about?"
Algernon: "The fools? Oh, the clever people of course"
Jack: "What fools"
Cecily: "It would distress me more than I can tell you, dear Gwendolen, if it caused you any mental or physical anguish, but I feel bound to point out to you that since Ernest proposed to you he clearly changed his mind"
Gwendolen: (meditatively) "If the poor fellow has been entrapped into any foolish promise I shall consider it my duty to rescue him at once, and with a firm hand"
Cecily: (thoughtfully and sadly) "Whatever unfortunate entanglement my dear boy may have got into, I will never reproach him with it after we are married"
Gwendolen: "Do you allude to me, Miss Cardew, as an entanglement? You are presumptuous. On occasion of this kind it becomes more than a moral duty to speak ones mind. It becomes a pleasure"
Cecily: "Do you suggest, Miss Fairfax, that I entrapped Ernest into an engagement? How dare you? This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners. When I see a spade I call it a spade"
Gwendolen: "I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different"
That's the sort of dialogue that runs all the way through the play. I must keep an eye out for it on the stage, come to think of it.. So, the thing to think of this; what hit you as a great/joyful/uplifting/funny/tragic/moving work you've read, and add it to the list, and don't forget to say what it's about and why it appealed to you. I'm looking forward to seeing some of these!