I’m really rather excited at the thought of joining in with Jillian’s Classics Club, a project which encourages you to read a certain number of classics (chosen by yourself) within five years. Although I would read plenty of classics in that time under my own steam, I’m signing up for two reasons:
- I enjoy the community aspect and I can’t wait to see other people’s choices and what they think about them
- I just like making lists
I’ve been happily compiling my list of one hundred titles that I’m going to read, and in doing so I’ve decided on a few parameters for my choices to make myself read a bit more diversely (otherwise I could fill half the list with Anthony Trollope). I’m trying not to read too many nineteenth century novels, much as I love them. In the interest of fairness, I want my list to be fifty percent male authors and fifty percent female authors. In order to challenge myself further I also want only half of the books on my list to be English language classics (although they will all have to be read in English, alas).
Unfortunately, these aims seem to be conflicting. I have a good selection of nineteenth century female English and American authors, and I have a good selection of classics in other languages written by men, but rarely the twain shall meet. As today is International Women’s Day, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to ask for suggestions for classic international women writers. Who is the Jane Austen of India? The Virginia Woolf of Italy? The Charlotte Bronte of China? Where are the female Tolstoys, Flauberts and Molieres? I assume they must exist. Please help!
Thanks to a bit of Googling, some wracking my brains and a perusal of the fantastic Alma Classics catalogue (a great place to search for less well known classics, particularly those in translation), I’ve managed to come up with the following ideas, but I would love more recommendations.
- The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir (French)
- The Complete Claudine by Colette (French)
- The Jew’s Beech by Annette von Droste Hülshoff (German)
- The Sailor from Gibraltar and Moderato Cantabile by Marguerite Duras (French)
- Lais by Marie de France (Anglo-Norman)
- The Book of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan (Old French)
- Poems by Antonia Pozzi (Italian)
- Poems by Sappho (Ancient Greek)
- The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (Japanese
- Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (Norwegian)
This is the best I can do with my limited knowledge. Any suggestions?