Turn of the Century Salon – Introduction

This year Katherine at November’s Autumn is hosting the Turn of the Century Salon to discuss works from authors written between the 1880s and the 1930s.


Katherine has asked a few questions as an introduction:

What draws you to read the Classics?
That’s both a difficult question to answer and yet an easy one – I love reading. But why the classics? Well, I suppose it’s because they’re great stories, with memorable characters. They’re from the past so it’s like entering a different world and yet it’s still a fairly familiar world. They’ve stood the test of time and they’re books that you can read and re-read, and come away feeling satisfied.

What era have you mainly read? Georgian? Victorian? Which authors?
I’ve read mainly Victorian authors,Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, the Brontes and Elizabeth Gaskell for example and Jane Austen from the Georgian era.

What Classics have you read from the 1880s-1930s? What did you think of them?
I love Thomas Hardy’s books and have read most of them. I like their depiction of tragic characters battling against their passions and the restrictions of Victorian society. Charles Dickens, of course, is also highly critical of much of the society in which he lived and his books have strong plots and interesting characters. D H Lawrence whose books I find quite varied – some like Sons and Lovers and Women in Love I first read many years ago and found them quite challenging. I’d like to revisit them and see whether I think the same. I’ve also read some of Virginia Woolf’s books and liked her stream of consciousness style of writing and her explorations of her characters’ emotions and motives.

Name some books you’re looking forward to read for the salon (in no particular order):
  • The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf – her first novel, first published in 1915
  • Women and Writing by Virginia Woolf, essays first published between 1904 and 1934.
  • Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford, first published between 1924 and 1928.
  • The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy, published between 1906 and 1921.
  • The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, first published in 1920.
  • Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, first published in 1911.
  • The House of Mirth by Edith Frome, first published in 1905.
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, first published 1899.
  • An Autobiography by Anthony Trollope, first published 1883.
  • Of Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham, first published 1915.
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, first published 1892.
  • The Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan, first published in 1915.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, first published in 1928.
  • The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett, first published in 1901.

12 thoughts on “Turn of the Century Salon – Introduction”

  1. I like the list of books and I’m looking forward to your reviews. Heart of Darkness I found quite disturbing. If you haven’t done already, read a bit about Joseph Conrad himself, he was a most interesting man.


  2. Margaret – You’ve got such a well-taken point about Hardy’s writing. His characters are so…human, if you will. He draws the conflict between society’s restrictions and human passion quite elegantly I think and I’m glad you brought that up. You’ve got some interesting books on your list too and I’m looking forward to your reviews of them.


  3. I went through a very enjoyable Hardy phase years ago too. I’m not joining in but I’m looking forward to reading what you think of your choices as I’ve read a lot of them.


  4. I wish I had the time to take this on. I think the turn of any century tends to produce fascinating cultural work. You only have to look at my oven 1590-1623 period to see that. Alas, I don’t think I could do it justice.


  5. Ooh – my current reading (Thomas Hardy, Raffles – EW Hornung etc) fits that perfectly – I may informally join in this salon. I read the 39 steps last year and it was great fun.


  6. A very nice pile of potential reading! I love Thomas Hardy too and Edith Wharton. I read The House of Mirth last year and loved it.


  7. I loved the 39 Steps, I want to read Greenmantle and the other novels in the series as well. And I’m so glad to see Parade’s End in your pile, looking forward to reading what you think of it! 🙂


  8. On my list are All Quiet on the Western Front, Of Human Bondage and The Thirty-Nine Steps. I’ve enjoyed The Forsyte Saga, Ethan Frome and An Age of Innocence. Hope you like them all.


  9. I think D.H. Lawrence is one of those authors best read when one is young. I read a bunch of Lawrence in college, but don’t think I could read him now without rolling my eyes. Oh, the drama!

    I really liked Age of Innocence–Wharton has such a marvelous way with words. Will be interested to hear how you like Ethan Frome.

    I like your list–a good mix of hardcore classics, and then genre classics.


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