Classic Literature Archives | Books on the Wall

Category: Classic Literature Archives

Books on the Wall blog posts covering classic literature, classical authors, and everything in between.

Five of the Best French Authors

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From the Medieval poem La Chanson de Roland to the modern day author Michel Houellebecq, French authors have produced some of the most daring and influential works of European literature. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Indeed, France still holds the world record for the most Nobel Prizes for Literature. Not only does France produce great artistic minds, it attracts them too. As you probably know already, many of America’s finest authors “found their voice” in a Parisian café (e.g. Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, Ezra Pound). In this list, we’ll take a look at five of France’s greatest writers. All […]

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Henry David Thoreau: America’s Favorite Rebel

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Henry David Thoreau blog feature image

The 19th century was a special time in American literature. Sometimes referred to as the American Renaissance, this era produced some of the finest American authors ever, including: Walt Whitman Herman Melville Emily Dickinson Edgar Allan Poe Nathanial Hawthorne One name that inescapably makes its way onto the lists of American canonical writers from this period is Henry David Thoreau. Famous for both his interesting lifestyle and his contemplative essays, Thoreau was a major critic of progress and technology and a strong supporter of individuality, political activism, and the natural world. In this article, we’ll explore why this Concord bachelor […]

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Virginia Woolf: England’s Modernist Master

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Along with James Joyce and William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf is considered one of the undisputed masters of “stream of consciousness” writing. Born in England in 1882, Woolf’s legacy far outlasted her short life, and her immense oeuvre continues to inspire artists, especially female writers, around the world. Photograph of Virginia Woolf, via Wikimedia Commons All of the greatest Virginia Woolf novels challenge how we think about the nature of human perception with their experimental prose and non-linear plots. Her work has also exerted and immense influence on feminist critics and historians who’ve worked hard to uncover an unbiased history of women in the Western […]

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Il Sommo Poeta: Dante Alighieri’s Life and Times

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Life and Times of Dante Alighieri

Along with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Milton’s Paradise Lost, Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy is one of the indispensable epics in the Western Canon. Without a doubt, the Divine Comedy is the most important literary work produced during the so-called “Dark Ages.” But don’t think Dante’s work is just a historical curiosity that has no bearing on how we live nowadays. Dante’s words and images still have the power to profoundly move 21st century readers. Indeed, many Italians still call Dante “il Sommo Poeta” (which means “The Supreme Poet”) or simply “The Poet.” With an epithet like that, you […]

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Jane Austen: Great Britain’s Greatest Novelist

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The British novelist Jane Austen only published four novels during her brief lifetime. Despite the rather small oeuvre of Jane Austen novels (six major novels, including two posthumously published works), nobody doubts Austen’s status as one of the greatest writers in the English language. Portrait of Jane Austen, via Wikimedia Commons Indeed, Austen is one of those rare authors beloved by both critics and the general public. It might seem strange that people in our technophilic 21st century would be at all interested in Austen’s “novels of manners” set in Regency England. However, every time a new film based on […]

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Words Wednesday: John Steinbeck

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John Steinbeck quote from East of Eden

This John Steinbeck quote comes from his 1952 novel East of Eden. East of Eden by John Steinbeck Published in September 1952, East of Eden follows several generations of two families whose stories intertwine: the Trasks and the Hamiltons. Set in the Salinas Valley of Central California, the setting is as much a character as any person in the novel. The story begins on the ranch of Irish immigrants Samuel and Liza Hamilton. While their land is notoriously infertile, the nearby lands are lush and productive—and it’s these lands that purchased by the wealthy stranger Adam Trask. Adam moves to […]

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Victor Hugo: Everyone’s Favorite French Romantic

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Feature Image for Victor Hugo novels post_Hans Christian Andersen blog image

Even people who aren’t into literature know the name Victor Hugo. Although less critically acclaimed than fellow French novelists like Balzac or Stendhal, Victor Hugo novels continue to resonate with readers around the world. Thanks to the various stage and film adaptations of his most famous novels, the modern world is being introduced to this Romantic literary giant in a whole new light. Victor Hugo, via Wikimedia Commons For those interested in learning more about Hugo, read on! We’ll explore this great Frenchman’s long and turbulent life as well as introduce you to some of his finest works of fiction. […]

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Five Eternal Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales

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The Danish author Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) is one of the most beloved children’s writers of all time. Andersen’s tales of mermaids, ducklings, demons, and emperors have been translated into over a hundred languages and have enchanted the minds and hearts of children around the world. Although children may not read Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales in the original form anymore, they certainly know of his tales through the numerous animated and live-action cinematic spinoffs. In this article, we’ll take a look at five of Andersen’s most enduring tales, examining each story’s unique lesson and subsequent film adaptations. Five Hans Christian Andersen […]

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Words Wednesday: Herman Melville

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Herman Melville quote graphic, Moby Dick

Today’s Words Wednesday features a Herman Melville quote from his classic novel Moby-Dick; or The Whale. Moby Dick by Herman Melville Published in 1851 at the height of the American Renaissance period, Moby Dick follows the adventures of the mad whaler Ahab, captain of the Pequod. The novel was originally published in London as The Whale and then as Moby-Dick; or The Whale in New York. The book is dedicated to famed author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Although the novel was originally not a commercial success (it was actually out of print when Melville died), it has become one of the most […]

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Miguel de Cervantes: Spain’s Greatest Writer

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Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote

The great Modernist poet/literary critic T. S. Eliot once quipped, “Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them. There is no third.” Although no literary critic would ever deny the importance of these two poets, there is an obvious “third” that Eliot failed to mention: 17th-century Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes.   Miguel de Cervantes, 1547-1616, by Eugenio Hansen, OSF, via Wikimedia Commons And Cervantes’s legacy rests on one legendary book: Don Quixote. This long novel is considered by many to be the first modern novel, and it serves as a major bridge between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Unfortunately, Don Quixote, like […]

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