This week Krysta and Briana at Pages Unbound are hosting the discussion: Do you have a favorite time period for classic literature?
DEFINITELY. As in, it’s not even a contest. I love Romantic literature. In particular I tend to enjoy French Romantic literature more than English, but as long as it isn’t Dickens I’ll read pretty much anything from the time period.
The Romantic era is a pretty big umbrella that covers a lot of different literary styles. It lasted from approximately 1790-1850. That means that both Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters are Romance authors, and they’re just about as different as they come. I’m sure I could google characteristics of the Romantic era, but I personally associate Romance novels with being long, melodramatic, and emotional. Some of the novels that epitomize Romantic literature for me are Jane Eyre, Les Miserables, and Great Expectations.
What I personally love about Romance novels is the feeling and emotion they are written with. Since mot of the classics I read in school were from the Romantic era or later, when I was first introduced to the Classical era through Tom Jones or Candide, I was surprised at how … aloof the novels seemed. In Romantic novels you get to really know the characters, their thoughts and feelings. This is taken to the nth degree by Charlotte Bronte in Jane Eyre when she wrote *gasp* in the first person.
Books written in the Romantic era also tend to have stories that are a bit, well, over the top. I don’t think that anyone would assume the events in Pride and Prejudice were typical of Regency England, and Austen certainly understood her readers would recognize how out of the ordinary those events were. But Romantic authors take regular people and put them in situations that are, for lack of better word, romantic. They are extra-exciting plots, or extra-romantic, or extra-mysterious, or extra-spooky.
Most of my favorite classics are Romantic novels. From France, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, and everything by Alexandre Dumas, but especially The Count of Monte Cristo. From England, all of Jane Austen (obviously), Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens*. From America, The Scarlet Letter by William Hawthorne (yup, not making it up) and the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe (would like to give his prose a second chance).
There are also a few women from the modern era that were writing in the Romantic style whose books I really enjoy, Daphne du Maurier (Rebecca) and Emmuska Orczy (The Scarlet Pimpernel).
*the ONLY thing by him you will ever see on a favorites list of mine, lol
It’s also worth noting that I also really enjoy the Victorian era of literature, which has a LOT in common with the late Romantics. I’m no literature expert, but I don’t fully understand why these are separated from one another. As a music major I tend to think of eras in terms of what I learned in music history. Romanticism in music covers pretty much all of the 1800s and there is no “Victorian” music. So I tend to lump Victorian literature in with Romantic literature in my brain. Favorites from the Victorian era are Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, and Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
What is your favorite era for classic literature?