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Adam Burgess

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Remembering Maya Angelou

Friday May 30, 2014

Renowned poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, passed away on May 28, 2014, at the age of 86.

Ms. Angelou published several poetry collections, three books of essays, seven autobiographies, and numerous plays and screenplays over a 50-year period. Here are some of Angelou's best quotes and a list of some of her important works.

Quotes:

  • "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."- Interview for Beautifully Said Magazine (2012)
  • "Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud."- Letter to My Daughter, a book of essays (2009)
  • "Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope."- Angelou's Facebook (Jan. 11, 2013)
  • "People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
  • "The truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free."

Autobiographical Works:

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)
  • Gather Together in My Name (1974)
  • Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976)
  • The Heart of a Woman (1981)
  • All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986)
  • A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002)
  • Mom & Me & Mom (2013)

Poetry Collections:

  • Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1971)
  • Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well (1975)
  • And Still I Rise (1978)
  • Shaker, Why Don't You Sing? (1983)
  • Poems (1986)
  • Now Sheba Sings the Song (1987)
  • I Shall Not Be Moved (1990)
  • The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994)
  • Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women (1995)
  • Poetry for Young People (2007)

Essays:

  • Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now (1993)
  • Even the Stars Look Lonesome (1997)
  • Letter to My Daughter (2008)

Memorial Day

Sunday May 25, 2014

On Monday, May 26th, we celebrate Memorial Day here in the United States.  It's a Federal holiday, meaning many people have the day off of work.  Hopefully plenty of people find time to read, relax, and enjoy family, and also to remember and honor those who have served nobly and heroically in the U.S. military forces.

In honor of this day, here are some suggestions for multinational military-themed novels to enjoy this weekend (or anytime!):

  1. Les Misérables (1862) by Victor Hugo
  2. All Quiet on the Western Front (1929) by Erich Maria Remarque
  3. Slaughter-house Five (1969) by Kurt Vonnegut
  4. Doctor Zhivago (1957) by Boris Pasternak
  5. Catch-22 (1961) by Joseph Heller
  6. For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) by Ernest Hemingway
  7. A Tale of Two Cities (1859) by Charles Dickens
  8. War and Peace (1869) by Leo Tolstoy
  9. The Red Badge of Courage (1895) by Stephen Crane
  10. A Farewell to Arms (1929) by Ernest Hemingway

I also recommend visiting these pages to learn more about Memorial Day, Military History, World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, the American Civil War, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution of 1905, and the American Revolution.

May-themed Readings

Sunday May 11, 2014

Early in the month of May, we celebrate two historical dates (three if we include Mother's Day! But more on that later).

The first is May Day, which is celebrated in different ways all around the world, including in places like Italy, Greece, and China. It is also celebrated as "Lei Day" in Hawaii, and as Beltane, a pagan fire festival. Here are five classics which make reference to this long-standing tradition:

1. A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

2. "The May Queen" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

3. "May-Day" by Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. Court of Love by Geoffrey Chaucer

5. "May Day" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The next holiday to make an appearance, in Mexico & the United States, especially, is Cinco de Mayo.  This holiday celebrates the unlikely victory of Mexican locals against the invasion of a militarily superior French army.  Here are some classics of Mexican literature to enjoy in celebration:

1. Pedro Paramo (1955) by Juan Rulfo

2. The Labyrinth of Solitude (1963) by Octavio Paz

3. The Death of Artemio Cruz (1962) by Carlos Fuentes

4. The Exodus of the Road and Flowers (1902) by Amado Nervo

5. Here's to You, Jesusa (1969) by Elena Poniatowska

As we celebrate the arrival of spring, let's not forget to celebrate some classic works that remind us of the history and cultures involved in creating the many holidays we celebrate (sometimes without memory) around the world.

April Wrap-Up!

Wednesday April 30, 2014

Hello, Everyone!

Here we are, closing-out another month.  I heard on the radio today that tomorrow (May 1st) will be, in this region, the coldest "May Day" in 74 years, and that we have now hit 6 consecutive months of below average temperatures.  It certainly was a cold winter and has been a chilly, gloomy spring.  But, that just gives us a number of excuses to stay wrapped-up inside, reading great books!

A number of you have emailed me regarding the newsletters, expressing concern about the lack of updates.  I apologize, as I have been learning the technology I have discovered that some of the newsletters are being sent out automatically (and repetitively)!  I'm trying to make sure each new bulletin, from now on, has a new entry as the top item.  Please bear with me as I continue to settle in.

For now, let me list the new articles that appeared in April:

As you can see, this month we have some new information on two literary genres, some suggestions for academic research guides, and 7 summaries and reviews for British and American literature, including fiction and drama (1600s-1900s).  Hopefully there is plenty for everyone.  In May, I hope to publish an article on British Literary Periods, similar to the one I published on American Literary Periods.

Has anyone read a particularly exceptional piece of classic literature this month?  If so, what?

 

April Updates

Friday April 11, 2014

Hello, hello, readers!

These last few weeks have been rather busy, but much new content has still made its way onto the Classic Literature website.  Below, you will find a number of book reviews/summaries for some excellent pieces of classic literature, as well as an exploration of the term "pastoral."

Literary terminology is something I hope to explore much more often in the coming weeks and months, as it is common to hear words and phrases pertaining to literature being bandied about, but do we all know what these terms mean, or how they have changed over time?  I may also create a list of my favorite dictionaries/glossaries of literary terms, for those of you who are interested in learning more.

Topics & Terms: Pastoral Literature

Review: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Review: The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway

Review: The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford

Review: Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

Review: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Review: A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Review: Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

I have received some requests, via email, for explorations of certain literary periods, such as the British Romantic.  In the coming weeks, I'll do my best to create a list of those topics you all have expressed interested in, and provide some posts geared specifically to your questions.  I hope that will prove helpful & interesting!

Cheers!

Spring Into Classics!

Tuesday March 25, 2014

Happy Spring! (Or so they tell me...)

Word around town is that the first day of Spring was Thursday, March 20th.  It's hard to imagine, as we're still "enjoying" temperatures about 10-15 degrees below average here in the Midwestern United States.  Today, we're experiencing a balmy 27 degree "Spring" day.  It's always fun to wake up to snow when it's not even winter anymore!

All rants aside, I'm thrilled that Spring is technically here.  This season is one of renewal, and with it I find that I'm always drawn to the Classics again.  Sometimes, I like to revisit old favorites, like Thomas Hardy and John Steinbeck.  Every so often, though, I find myself feeling a "Spring-like" desire to experience something fresh and new, a Classic author I've never explored or  a particular famous Classic work of literature that I've yet to attempt.

These days, I've had my eye on that copy of George Eliot's Middlemarch that sits on my shelf, unread all these years. It's a secret I share with only you, Classic Lit readers, as how could I, an "Expert" in the field not have read this one yet?? I have read and thoroughly enjoyed other Eliot works, but this one, her masterpiece, waits and waits.

So, what is it about some books that makes us feel so apprehensive?  I have read Moby Dick, War and Peace, and Ulysses, and have loved all of them. It's hard to imagine, then, that I'd have a mental block against any book, right?  Yet, there are mounds of them in my study that have sat untouched (well, unread) for years and years.

Do you experience this, too?  What books have you been meaning to read for years, but just haven't mustered the courage to begin, yet?

St. Patrick's Day: Luck of the Irish

Wednesday March 19, 2014

On Monday, we in the United States (and many around the world) celebrated St. Patrick's Day.  In the U.S., the festivities typically include parades, rivers dyed green, parties, games, and of course plenty of Irish stouts and whiskeys.

In the literary world, we can celebrate another element of Irish heritage, writers and their works!  Recently, I posted an article on the "Top 10" Irish Classics.  This is a list of some of the most well-known, well-received, and/or influential works written by Irish and Anglo-Irish authors in the last few centuries.

More than this, though, the books on this list are ones I believe anyone with an interest in classic literature would benefit from experiencing. We are lucky to have them!

Do you have a favorite Irish writer, or a favorite book or poem by an Irish writer? If so, I would love to hear about it!  Leave a comment below, and also check out these other recently published articles:

Review: Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet

Guide: The Circles of Hell in Dante's Inferno

Trivia: Shakespeare Said That?

Women's History Month

Sunday March 9, 2014

This month in the United States is Women's History Month.  Yesterday, March 8th, was also International Women's Day, celebrated by Google with a wonderfully uplifting, culturally diverse, "Google Doodle," (or, in this case, music video).  Here at About's Classic Lit site, we, too are celebrating women.  Some recent articles about Classic Women Writers include:

10 Profound Thoughts from Classic Women Writers

The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty

Unconventional Heroines from Classic Literature

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos

While I am not one who typically qualifies writers into categories, such as gender, nationality, etc., instead preferring to think about literary periods, movements, and influence (as well as, simply, "personal favorites,"), still I think it is important to recognize and celebrate writers who have been or continue to be marginalized in some way, despite their brilliant talent and works.

Some of my favorite (Classic) Women Writers include: Virginia Woolf, Willa Cather, Jane Austen, Flannery O'Connor, Charlotte Bronte, Edith Wharton, and George Eliot.

Who are some of your favorites?  Or, to put it another way, what is your favorite work of classic literature written by a woman?

Weekly Round-Up: February 10-16

Monday February 17, 2014

Hello, Classic Literature Enthusiasts!

It is a goal of mine to post once per week with a "round-up" of information relevant to this website, including a list of articles that have gone live in each preceding week. Articles post to their category pages, not necessarily to the home page, so I want to make an effort to ensure you all can see what is happening from week to week.

There is a lot of great information already available on the Classic Lit section of About.com, so my goal is to write articles that give new information, discuss new topics, or offer different perspectives on widely discussed subjects. Literature is both constant and ever-changing, a delightful paradox that allows us to continue to approach it creatively!

In the last week, four articles have gone live:

1. Classic Literary Villains (Part One)

2. Celebrating Black History Month: Classic African-American Lit

3. Around the World in 80 Pages: Classic Short Fiction

4. Review: A Season in Hell & The Drunken Boat by Arthur Rimbaud

As you can see, there are a variety of topics being covered and in a variety of forms (lists, reviews, narrative approach, etc.).  This will probably continue to happen, as my own interests are wide and my styles vary with the topics and with my mood!

That being said, if there is ever anything you are interested in learning more about, or anything you would simply just like to hear my opinion about, please feel free to e-mail me or leave comments and let me know.  I will do my best to oblige!

Onward.

A Warm Hello from the Frigid Midwest

Tuesday February 11, 2014

Hello, Classic Literature Explorers!

I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself as your new Classic Literature Guide here at About.com. My name is Adam Burgess and I hail from Chicago, Illinois, where I am happily working indoors as much as possible, these days, while we suffer through one of the worst winters in my remembrance (but, hey, inclement weather is a great excuse to do more reading!).

A brief note on my background, as this can be read on my bio page: I currently hold two degrees in English, Bachelor's-General and Master's-American Literature. I am also a Ph.D. candidate in English with emphases on modern American Literature and Literary Theory & Criticism. I have been teaching courses in English Composition & Rhetoric, Literature, Reading, and Humanities for seven years, and for much of that time I have also been a book reviewer and critic. In addition to all of this, I am one of the founders and current moderators of The Classics Club, an online community devoted to exploring classic literature.

My first post, Classic Literary Villains Part One, is live!

I know I am a new face for many of you, but I have so far received a warm and kind welcome from all of those with whom I have had the pleasure of interacting, and I am grateful for that.  I hope that my content, topics, articles, and thoughts on literature will be interesting, thought-provoking, and useful.  Please feel free to comment on posts with any questions or with thoughts of your own on the various topics we will be exploring together.

Onward!

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