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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Jane Eyre Makes List of Essential Reads

To mark World Book Day, liberarians were asked to name the book adults should read before they die. Harper Lee's To Kill a Mocking Bird came out the winner, with the Bible and Lord of the Rings in second and third place.

Other well-loved classics which feature in the rundown are Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre 1984 by George Orwell, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

From BBC News.

10 comments:

Aidan Brack said...

Mockingbird's an unexpected but good pick. Good to see some Bronte up there - anywhere we can see the rankings?

Brontëana said...

I tried to find the rest of the list but it was not listed through the BBC website. It is also unclear if the survey was limited to the UK.

I don't well remember To Kill a Mockingbird but we read it in high school, and it was the only book that we appreciated at all. We had a good teacher that year, so we did more than fill out a worksheet on symbolism or make plot diagrams. I'm encouraged to give it another read, now.

Aidan Brack said...

I'm pretty sure that it is UK-limited - none of the sites mentioned on the right link to it though.

Brontëana said...

I would be curious what a Canadian survey of this kind would look like. The Brontes would definately not appear, but I can imagine that Margaret Atwood would be somewhere on the list.

Aidan Brack said...

I'd expect more North American works in general from a Canadian survey - out of interest why do you think that the Brontes wouldn't appear? :)

Brontëana said...

Simple enough: they are never mentioned here and rarely turn up on class reading lists. I am not sure this is the case in the rest of the country (it is a big place, you know ;) Teacher's decide what books to teach, and if they are anything like my colleagues, they don't appeaciate the Victorians. If Thackeray made the list it would have to be a sign of the End Times. ;)

Canada is peculiar, though. We tend to identify more with Britain than North America. We read a lot of modern British fiction in school along with Canadian, and the obligatory Shakespeare.

Aidan Brack said...

I'd be surprised if Thackeray appeared but I would be astonished if either Wuthering or Jane Eyre didn't appear. They may be much lower down, but I'd still be surprised if not because the Brontes are third only to Dickens and Austen with regard to renown as classical novelists over here (I'd say).

Brontëana said...

They might also be usurped by American works. I imagine my point of view on this really is determined by where I live. This has always been a place where the newest things are the best. This is also not a very literary culture. The literary community is trying their best to change things but it isn't having much of an effect. I have to think hard to find the most renowned authors here. Margaret Atwood, definately- she always dominates. Then maybe Robertson Davies, and the local favourite is Alistair McLeod- who is the only Canadian author I have a partial liking for. Of the 'Britishers' there's Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen.

Wuthering Heights might stand a chance of making it on the bottom of the list. It is the only novel of the sisters that has any sort of circulation. Jane Eyre would have to be the lesser-known 'oh, she wrote another novel- oh, she had a sister?' book.

Aidan Brack said...

*nods* Is there much respect for counter-culture in Candian literary circles? Might we see Slaughterhouse 5 or Catch-22 on a Canadian list do you think?

I'd imagine that a list would also depend on the exact question asked:

"What is the best book of all time?" will generate different answers to "Which books should everyone read before they die?". The former turns out more quirky and fun stuff - Hitchhikers I'd imagine would poll much higher on the first question than the second.

Brontëana said...

Oh yes! Counter-culture is very popular.

Good point about the question. Although it would bring about the same sort of results here, I think. There really does seem to be a difference between books read for pleasure and those that are on a pedestal.