Classic Club Meme #6: Thee Best

The Classics Club asks:

What is the best book you’ve read so far for The Classics Club — and why? Be sure to link to the post where you discussed the book! (Or, if you prefer, what is your least favorite read so far for the club, and why?)

So far, the book that has most knocked my socks off since beginning The Classics Club project is Babel Tower by A.S. Byatt.  I wrote:

The writing of A.S. Byatt gives me nightmares. In case you were wondering, that’s a complement. Byatt’s writing worms its way deep into my psyche. Her novels speak of primal fears and timeless horrors. They make you uncomfortable. She’s brave and bold and terrifically smart. She doesn’t spare herself, or her readers.

Babel Tower is a book about books (about books about books). About language. About how we use words — in law, in education, with tradition, during change. It’s about the 1960s and other “utopias” — about Blake (and Heaven, and Hell, and Marriage) and Nietzsche and de Sade. About Lawrence and Forster. About the world we inherited and the world we live in.

It’s an incredible and overwhelming masterpiece. I’m changed after reading it.

…and I’m not sure how much I can add! I am still under the spell of that book. I think about it all the time as a matter of fact. I feel uneasy when I think about it. It makes me want to read it again, and read deeply about the writers and thinkers and history she references. It makes me want to read all of her books. Again, again. I’m guessing this is what it means to be obsessed?

I feel like I have just scratched the surface of this book. I have books that are like an old pair of best loved and perfectly fitting boots but this is not one of them. This book is a very well crafted pair of the very best shoes that I sometimes feel I have no business owning. I hope over the years to make them more mine, but I know they will never be completely comfortable.

I have no intention of going to graduate school for literature, but if I did, I’d do my thesis on A.S. Byatt.

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6 comments

  1. Alex in Leeds

    I remember the very appealing artwork this was published with and I think I tried it once, when I was far too young to understand all the connections it was making. I’m going to try Possession before I tackle this one but I am far, far better prepared this time!

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