Classics Club: Favorite Literary Period

The monthly meme question at The Classics Club for March happens to be the question I submitted so I thought I would take a stab at answering it:

What is your favorite “classic” literary period and why?

It’s not difficult for me to pick my favorite literary period.  In coming up with a list of my favorite books, by and large, they fall into the category of “Early Twentieth Century”.  Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jack London always come to mind when determining favorites, as do J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesteron, Evelyn Waugh and John Steinbeck.  Recently, I’ve discovered Willa Cather and Edith Wharton – while Cather could be included in favorites, the jury is still out with Wharton.   And I can’t forget Margaret Mitchell and her one great novel.

I don’t know who decides which years “Early Twentieth Century” encompasses but I would ask to be allowed to include J. D. Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut and Flannery O’Connor in this period, as well as James Baldwin, whom I just read for the first time last week.  These authors all published something in the 1940’s and/or 1950’s which I will still include as “Early” even though several of them continued publishing into the “Later Twentieth Century” and in some cases into the “Twenty First Century”.

Why is this time period my favorite?  That’s the more difficult part of the question to answer.  In some respect, it’s simply that these were the authors I read when I first discovered literature during the summer before 10th grade.  They were the first authors I read when I discovered that there was something more to reading than just an exciting plot – that there was something about the words chosen and the way they were put together.  But one could learn this with any literary time period.

I think another reason would be that from my historical perspective, the “Early Twentieth Century” is on the edge of the old and the new.  It’s far enough in the past to be intriguing but yet close enough to the present to see direct connections and influences to the world in which I live.

Just curious, do you have a favorite literary period?

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10 responses to “Classics Club: Favorite Literary Period

  1. Lewis is one of my all-time favourite authors. I have Chesterton’s, The Man Who Was Thursday scheduled for this year; I haven’t read many of his works but I need to start.

    Have you read Wharton’s The House of Mirth? I thought that book was absolutely brilliant as far as character development goes. I have a hard time finding anyone who can compare to the subtle yet insightful development of Lily Bart.

    I need to read more early 20th century works. It’s a period I tend to avoid and I really must make sure I include more books from it in my TBR pile.

    Glad I found your blog!

    • Cleo, I haven’t read much of Chesterton’s fiction, but I’ve enjoyed his Father Brown mysteries. I’ve only read a few of Wharton’s short stories. Some of her novels are on my Classics Club list and I think House of Mirth has been recommended to me the most. I need to fit it in this year!
      Thanks for stopping by!
      -Dale

  2. I’m not sure I have a favorite literary time period. (Which is why I’m probably not going to answer this on my own blog, lol.) I do love Hemingway and Fitzgerald’s writing, though. Speaking of whom, have you seen Midnight in Paris? I especially got a kick out of Hemingway in it, who spoke exactly as if he was reading sentences from one of his stories. Cracked me up no end! And Tom Hiddleston was very sweet as Fitzgerald. All the parts that took place back in the ’20s were great fun, but the modern sections lagged.

    • Yes, I thought Midnight in Paris was great! Especially Hemingway and Fitzgerald. I also didn’t realize that Zelda was Southern until I saw the movie.

      • I knew she was Southern only because I was reading a book about different places in NC connected to various literary figures, and it discussed her death in Asheville and mentioned she was from Alabama. Which is about all I know about her — I have a bio of her and Scott on my to-read list right now.

  3. In answering this question, I made a mess. I only sloppily figured out that my favorite periods are somewhere between 1820 to early 1900’s. That covers about five or six periods. I excluded the Modern period because the deeper I go into the 1900’s, the more I dislike them. But in your post, you mention many authors that I didn’t even think about while I was writing about literary periods, and I realize that I do like a lot of EARLY Modern authors. I still cannot say which is my favorite b/c I have so much more to read, but at least it broadens my sense of literary periods to think about.

    • Ruth,
      While “Early” modern is my favorite, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed other literary periods, also. I discovered George Eliot last year and am looking forward to reading more of her work. It’s been a while, but I read a considerable amount of Thomas Hardy – I need to re-read some of his novels. And going even further back, I couldn’t believe how “modern” Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe seemed.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      -Dale

  4. Great question Dale. I didn’t think I had one favourite classic period until I started answering this question on my blog.
    I love the early twentieth century too – Wharton, Waugh & Fitzgerald are long time favourites 🙂

    • I admit that it’s been a while since I’ve studied any official literary periods – so I’m not even sure what or when they all are, I just know which years/time period I tend to go to.
      -Dale

  5. Pingback: A Classics Club Rewind | Mirror with Clouds

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