Monday, 19 February 2018

More classics

Of my recent reads there were three classic novels that I really loved. Still fresh and interesting today. The first one is Candide (or Optimism) by Voltaire. One of his most famous books, and one of the great books of the Enlightenment. An ironic outlook on the surrounding world. The characters, the happenings and trips are written in a hilarious, witty way. With irony it is both tragedy and comic. Candide is living a sheltered life until one day he happens to kiss the daughter of the house. He is ousted by the angry father and life takes him around the world. His philosophical teacher Pangloss, taught him "we live in the best of worlds" and with this motto he looks on the world around him. In the end? He realises that it is not true and replies to Pangloss: "Let us cultivate our garden". 
“Optimism," said Cacambo, "What is that?" "Alas!" replied Candide, "It is the obstinacy of maintaining that everything is best when it is worst.”

Lancelot by Chrétien de Troyes is the classic saga of King Arthur and his knights. This concentrates on Lancelot and his quest to save Queen Guinevere, who is also his lover. Here we meet the traditional knights fighting for honour and damsels in distress. I found it quite refreshing and it kept me thrilled until the very end. de Troyes has also written several other novels from King Arthur's court.
“Through their kisses and caresses they experienced a joy and wonder the equal of which has never been known or heard of. But I shall be silent...; for the rarest and most delectable pleasures are those which are hinted at, but never told.” 

The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This novel saw an "epidemic" of suicides among the men, unlucky in love. Werther is an artistic soul, middle class, no firm goal in life. When he falls in love with Charlotte, who is the fiancée of another man, he is devastated and sees only one way out. The novel is written as letters to a friend an we get to know Werthers output on life. Nature plays an important part of life and are often used as comparisons with his feelings for Charlotte. The tears of Charlotte are compared with the drops of rain on the leaves.

It was still thundering at a distance: a soft rain was pouring down over the country, and filled the air around us with delicious odours. … her eyes wandered over the scene; …, and then turned them upon me; they were moistened with tears;”... ”It was a most magnificent sunrise; the whole country was refreshed, and the rain fell drop by drop from the trees in the forest.” 

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