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fanuzzir
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Welcome classic American readers!

I'm lucky enough to read and discuss literature for my day job, but when I'm not watching really bad horror movies, I still spend my leisure time reading classic American literature. What is it about Melville and Hawthorne and Stowe and Hopkins (who?) that speaks to us still? Say what you will about American culture, but there is something irresistable and even grand aoubt our national literature.

If you're like me, you kind of know that already and are drawn to a book club like this to explore the great themes and ideas of classic American literature. Some of you may have longstanding literary loves, and some might be just browsing, hoping for a hit. But I hope you'll all enjoy spending time with each other and discovering the social pleasures of reading great books!
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donyskiw
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Re: Welcome classic American readers!

I'm Denise and I live in Colorado. I subscribe to the Library of America so I read a lot of American classics. I have not read Whitman since high school but I'm pretty sure I have this volume on my shelves. If not, I'll have to order it for our discussion!

Denise
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willowy
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Re: Welcome classic American readers!

Hello Everyone,

I'm Willowy, I've done lots of Barnes and Noble book clubs before, but I've mainly focused on literature. I'm excited that they are offering this American Classics book club now, and that they are starting with Whitman. I've never read much of his work (poetry is not my forte!) but I look forward to learning and discussing it with you all!
-----------Willowy----------
Melissa_W
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Re: Welcome classic American readers!

Hi all,
BNU veteran and generally open to reading just about anything. I haven't really read a lot of American authors since high school but I've been meaning to read Whitman for a while. :smileyhappy:
Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
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tomwatson
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Re: Welcome classic American readers!


donyskiw wrote:
I'm Denise and I live in Colorado. I subscribe to the Library of America so I read a lot of American classics. I have not read Whitman since high school but I'm pretty sure I have this volume on my shelves. If not, I'll have to order it for our discussion!

Denise




Hi Denise, this is Tom from Nashville. You said that you subscribe to Library of America. I'm not familiar with that. What is it? Thanks.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Welcome classic American readers!

Tom, I hope I have the right message. I'm replying to your query about Library of America. That's a series of hardcover editions of classic American literature that have become standard for readers and scholars of literature. They're beautifully put together, and often feature new or undiscovered work by established authors. I have about 10 myself but not merely as many as Denise.
Bob
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fanuzzir
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Re: Welcome classic American readers!

Denise, I'm happy you're on board with Whitman in whatever edition you choose. I also hear that Whitman is new to people since high school, so maybe we have some old perceptions to break.
Talk to you soon,
Bob
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fanuzzir
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Re: Welcome classic American readers!

Melissa, as you may have found out, I'm from New York. So when you said "Darn tights," I thought you were making a mild expletive. I was just about to give you some guidelines about foul language and all that on the BN bookclub circuit!
Only kidding.
Bob
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donyskiw
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Re: Welcome classic American readers!

Yes, they have a website at http://www.loa.org and there is a link back to BN online when you find the volume you want to purchase. I do not think I have 100 editions yet (that's a big deal there, when you reach the 100 mark). I don't have the Whitman edition so I have to order it, I have Thoreau and Emerson which is why I wasn't sure. They publish the oldest version (most authentic) version of an author's manuscript but they will make some editorial corrections and then, in the notes in the back, list what they are. They group several publications together so each volume contains about 1000 pages or so. There is also an annotated section in the back that explains things in the text and a biography of the author. You can subscribe or you can purchase them from BN. The subscription volumes come in white slipcovers, the ones you buy in bookstores or from BN come with nice black dust jackets with the authors last name in large white italic caligraphy letters. They also have another series called the Poet Project and I do have the Whitman poetry volume. It is edited by Harold Bloom.

Denise
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Everyman
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Re: Welcome classic American readers!

Re the Library of America, several additional points.

The purpose of the loa is to keep in print virtually all quality writing of American literature. It's an ambitious goal, but they're doing quite nicely at it. But it means that they print works of lesser as well as greater interest, which is great for the academic community and for avid readers of American writing, but is sometimes too much for the ordinary reader.

If you want to start collecting the volumes, the best way is to sign up for a subscription rather than order them through a bookseller. They come boxed rather than in jackets, which is a bit nicer, but the main benefit is that they are cheaper. They come roughly one every one to two months, I forget the exact timing (I subscribed for a few years, but dropped my subscription when I had collected all the volumes I really wanted), but they send you forms regularly on which you can indicate which volumes you want sent, so you never have to get a book you don't want. (And if you do get a volume you don't want, they are happy to have you return it.) And you can order additional volumes from time to time at the subscription price without paying for shipping.

So with clever use of the subscription service, you can get a nice set of great writing in quality hardback editions at a reasonable cost.

The downside to the books, for me, is that they contain virtually no editorial material. They have a chronology of the author which though brief is often quite interesting and useful. But there are no introductory materials or discussions of the author or context of the work, and the few footnotes are not indicated at all in the text so you have to go to the back of the book to see whether there is a footnote, which for me makes the notes virtually useless. Basically, you are left on your own with the text. Which in some cases is fine, but in other cases I find that quality editorial material can make an enormous difference in my ability to place an older, particularly a not well known or discussed, work in context.

In addition, the volumes usually pack several books into one volume. This gives you more reading for the buck, but leaves you buying a number of works you might not really care about owning. For example, the Stowe volume contains not only Uncle Tom's Cabin, but also The Minister's Wooing and Oldtown Folks. This is great for scholars, but for ordinary readers it may be of less interest. (I don't know if any non-scholar today consders The Minister's Wooing readable, but I quit it fairly early on). And it makes for lengthy volumes; the Stowe book is nearly 1,500 pages.

But as long as one understands the purpose and limitations of the volumes, they are a great way to build a library of American literature.
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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Jo6353
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Re: Welcome classic American readers!

Maybe it's because it's Halloween but Washington Irving is coming to mind. Jo
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fanuzzir
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Re: Welcome classic American readers!



Jo6353 wrote:
Maybe it's because it's Halloween but Washington Irving is coming to mind. Jo


Let me look at some editions of Irving's works before diving into that one. It is the perfect season for the Headless Horseman.
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ARMYRANGER
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Re: Welcome classic American readers!

Hi, I'm Bob from New Hampshire. I am looking forward to discussing American Literature with the group. I have posted my bio and favorites under my profile if anybody is interested.
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rdm68
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Re: Welcome classic American readers!

I just want to toss Hawthorne up for discussion. I started reading his The Marble Faun recently and am totally captivated. He writes beautifully - rather low-key, not showy, but his sentences and paragraphs are masterfully shaped and polished. The Scarlet Letter is a high-school warhorse, of course, which may leave some people (including me) with a memory of ponderousness. But I'm astonished today by the emotional depth and subtlety of his writing.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Welcome classic American readers!



rdm68 wrote:
I just want to toss Hawthorne up for discussion. I started reading his The Marble Faun recently and am totally captivated. He writes beautifully - rather low-key, not showy, but his sentences and paragraphs are masterfully shaped and polished. The Scarlet Letter is a high-school warhorse, of course, which may leave some people (including me) with a memory of ponderousness. But I'm astonished today by the emotional depth and subtlety of his writing.


Feel free to start a message thread with that focus. Like many American writers, Hawthorne was deeply interested in European culture and took to tourism and exile naturally. I'm very intrigued by your interest and hope you can draw some people in.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Welcome classic American readers!

Thanks for joining us. There are many threads going on at the moment: Thoreau and Whitman, with a few interests in Sister Carrie by Dreiser and in Washington Irving's short stories.
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holyboy
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Re: Welcome classic American readers!

Just found this book club and decided to join in on the discussions. I am a writer and very interested in the subject of American Literature. Like some of the others here, I have most all of the Library of America series.

Will this club be perpetual and ongoing or is there an ending date?
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Laurel
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Hawthorne

Hawthorne is a wonderfully rich writer. I've had a desire nagging at me for several months to reread "The House of Seven Gables."
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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LizzieAnn
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Re: Hawthorne

I agree about his writing, and you've given me the urge to read it as well. I visited the house in Salem many many years ago. There's just something about that whole period that makes you want to snuggle under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate and snow falling outside while reading such a story.



Laurel wrote:
Hawthorne is a wonderfully rich writer. I've had a desire nagging at me for several months to reread "The House of Seven Gables."


Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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fanuzzir
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Re: Welcome classic American readers!

We're in it for the long haul. So far we have discussions running on Whitman, Thoreau, with a new one starting on Hawthorne's House of the Seven Gables, and some indecision about whether to dive into Steinbeck. Feel free to push any or all of these discussions along or start a new one.
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