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MorrisCH
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I have a library full of magic books, and I have no troble reading them

Since English is not my first language,
Magic books have helped me greatly in learning English.

Recently I have moved to English spoken country and I want to start reading some classic English literature.

My question is what are the best known classic literature for someone who just starting out,and can be a great conversation starter.

Any suggestions will help, Thanks
Theodore Lawton
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Oh fun! Where are you from Morris?

Here are some authors worth looking into:

Jane Austen who wrote Pride and Prejudice, among others.

Charles Dickens- wrote David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol and more...

Daniel Defoe- Robinson Crusoe

John Keats- a famous poet, if you like poetry

Rudyard Kipling- wrote The Jungle Book, The Man Who Would Be King, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and Kim among many others. Kim is one of my favorite old movies, btw.

Shakespeare- he authored a couple of famous things. Smile

Mary Shelley- Frankenstein

Robert Louis Stevenson- Kidnapped, Treasure Island, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and more

J.R.R. Tolkien- The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and others

And C.S.Lewis, he was Irish, but wrote the Chronicles of Narnia and many others

Tolkien and Lewis may not be considered "classic" literature, but they are good writers and fun reads.

H.G. Wells- The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, and others

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle- he was Scottish, but the Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes had a pretty big impact on society and are fun and worth reading.

the poem- Beowulf

Geoffrey Chaucer- The Canterbury Tales

John Milton- poem Paradise Lost

Other authors: Thomas Hardy, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson

Have fun and keep a dictionary handy!

Smile
ClintonMagus
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Are you looking for "English literature" or literature in English?
Things are more like they are today than they've ever been before...
MorrisCH
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Wow, What a comprehensive list, Thank you very much Theodore
I love the works by Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, I enjoyed reading their books in translated version, but time to read them in English Smile
This list will surely keeps me busy for awhile

ClintonMagus:
Opps, I I guess I am after literature in English, I didn't know there was different between two.
tommy
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If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
TonyB2009
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Some of my favourites, that might get you started.
Charles Dickens - Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby
William Thackeray - Vanity Fair
Sir Walter Scott - Ivanhoe, The Talisman
Thomas Hardy - Tess, Far from the Madding Crowd
Jane Austin - Pride and Prejudice
F Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
John Steinbeck - The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden
Joseph Conrad - Lord Jim
EM Forster - A Passage to India
Ernest Hemingway - The Old Man and the Sea (the only one of his works worth reading!)
I would also include Moby Dick, one of my absolute favourites, but it is an acquired taste.
Magnus Eisengrim
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Hmm. I'm trying to think of examples that are noteworthy as literature, but are direct in their use of English. Many authors play with the language, which is wonderful, but probably not what you need right now.

Joseph Conrad--Heart of Darkness
Vladimir Nabokov--Lolita
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
stoneunhinged
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Mark Twain.
LobowolfXXX
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Quote:
On May 4, 2015, TonyB2009 wrote:
Some of my favourites, that might get you started.
Charles Dickens - Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby
William Thackeray - Vanity Fair
Sir Walter Scott - Ivanhoe, The Talisman
Thomas Hardy - Tess, Far from the Madding Crowd
Jane Austin - Pride and Prejudice
F Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
John Steinbeck - The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden
Joseph Conrad - Lord Jim
EM Forster - A Passage to India
Ernest Hemingway - The Old Man and the Sea (the only one of his works worth reading!)
I would also include Moby Dick, one of my absolute favourites, but it is an acquired taste.


Nice list, though I strongly disagree with your Hemingway parenthetical.
"Torture doesn't work" lol
Guess they forgot to tell Bill Buckley.

"...as we reason and love, we are able to hope. And hope enables us to resist those things that would enslave us."
stoneunhinged
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Since my day job is teaching English as a foreign language, I am biased toward clear, simple, beautiful English. I often talk about the "Hemingway Revolution", because he changed the way English is written. Gotta agree with Lobo. Anything by Hemingway is good for the OP.

But Melville? No.

Tony has good taste, but little sense for the non-native speaker of English.

Tolkien writes very clean, clear, almost Strunk and White English, for example. Maybe one of us should recommend his books.
LobowolfXXX
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Theodore beat you to Tolkien.
"Torture doesn't work" lol
Guess they forgot to tell Bill Buckley.

"...as we reason and love, we are able to hope. And hope enables us to resist those things that would enslave us."
stoneunhinged
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Quote:
On May 5, 2015, LobowolfXXX wrote:
Theodore beat you to Tolkien.


Indeed.
LobowolfXXX
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What's your favorite Hemingway, Stone?
"Torture doesn't work" lol
Guess they forgot to tell Bill Buckley.

"...as we reason and love, we are able to hope. And hope enables us to resist those things that would enslave us."
stoneunhinged
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Favorite?

Forget the books, and look at the prose.

I just grabbed the nearest book. It happens to be "Farewell to Arms." I just opened the book randomly, and got this:

Quote:
"You have no right to do that. I was here two hours before you came."
"What do you want?"
"The seat."
"So do I."


Again: random.

Hemingway's plots are much less interesting to me than his prose, which is...perfect.

If the OP wants to improve his/her English through reading, Hemingway is not a bad choice.
TonyB2009
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Quote:
On May 5, 2015, stoneunhinged wrote:
Since my day job is teaching English as a foreign language, I am biased toward clear, simple, beautiful English. I often talk about the "Hemingway Revolution", because he changed the way English is written. Gotta agree with Lobo. Anything by Hemingway is good for the OP.

But Melville? No.

Tony has good taste, but little sense for the non-native speaker of English.

Tolkien writes very clean, clear, almost Strunk and White English, for example. Maybe one of us should recommend his books.

I did include a caveat about Moby Dick - I would recommend it to anyone, but not to someone learning English.

As for Hemingway, I will concede that The Snows of Kilimanjaro is also worth reading. But as a whole he leaves me underwhelmed.

The rest of my recommendations were, I believe, plain prose. As a non-native speaker I would steer clear of poetry, because it plays too much with the words and could end up confusing. Same with Shakespeare. He is for later. And innovative writers like Anthony Burgess.

Finally I will add that I find this sort of topic far more engaging that what people are listening to on their Ipod. So I am looking forward to maybe spotting some things I should add to my reading list.
TonyB2009
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Talking of perfect prose from an American, you could try Raymond Chandler. One line from Playback always stood out for me. Marlow gets a pre-dawn phone call, and groggily says to the caller: "I'm old, tired, and full of no coffee."

That is wonderful prose.

I would recommend any of his books to someone new to English literature. Good reads, good prose, great fun. Try The Long Goodbye. Or The Simple Art of Murder, an essay every writer should read and reread.
Magnus Eisengrim
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Which brings us back to Conrad and Nabokov. IMO, one of the reasons that their prose is so beautiful is that they were both writing in their second languages. Both Heart of Darkness are stylistic masterpieces, with simple and elegant vocabulary.
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
LobowolfXXX
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English wasn't Conrad's second language. Smile
"Torture doesn't work" lol
Guess they forgot to tell Bill Buckley.

"...as we reason and love, we are able to hope. And hope enables us to resist those things that would enslave us."
TonyB2009
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Conrad was operating about two languages removed from his native language!

Personally I find Lord Jim a far more satisfying book, but he is definitely one not to be missed out.
stoneunhinged
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Quote:
On May 5, 2015, TonyB2009 wrote:
...Raymond Chandler....


You have my hearty agreement. Chandler was indeed a master of English prose.
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