I never read it...have you?

I got this bright idea from Yogamum at Yoga Gumbo.

She gives a lovely list of the Brit’s 100 best-loved books (many of which she has admirably checked off). It all reminded Yogamum of a drinking game she used to play in grad school called “I Never Read It.”

In this game, apparently, each player would name a classic “all English majors must read this” novel that he or she hadn’t read, and then the others would ridicule him/her for not having read it. If players had read it, they’d take a drink. Wow. That is so much more interesting a drinking game than quarters! (You know, bounce a quarter off the table into a beer glass and chug ‘til you choke on the quarter or puke, whichever comes first.) I wanna party with those wordsmiths! However, there are so many books I can be ridiculed for having not read, I would probably be the only sober one at the table.

I must forego the alcoholic chugs; however, I am going to add a twist to the game. First of all, I will admit to not having read any works by a major novelist. (I blame the American school system.) The admission makes me blush and groan, but I must confess. This is to rectify my having paraded myself in the blogosphere as The Literate Kitten, when all along I was merely A Literate Kitten.

The major novelist is…Henry James!

Before you cast any aspersions, please let me hasten to add that I have read Moliere and Balzac...in French. So there.

Regretfully (I say without conviction), I’ve managed to avoid the fiction of the great Henry James, and he is arguably the most important American novelist—unless you prefer to think of him as one of the better English novelists. And if you don’t count Faulkner, who lived in the South, which is a very different country than America. No matter, I’ve read very little of James’s work. An unpleasant short story or two and about one-fourth of “The Golden Bowl.” Although I did see the movie.

But, wait, there’s more!

I ask my dear readers to name the novel by Henry James they believe is his best. Whichever title receives the most votes will be read by me over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Thus, having read at least one entire work by Henry James, I will be able to reclaim the mantle of The Literate Kitten, sans guilty chafing. And give myself indigestion on Turkey Day. All at the same time.

(No votes will automatically default to the shortest Henry James novel, “Turn of the Screw.” No person may enter more than once. Prizes are not transferable and must not be redeemed by cash. If there were prizes, that is. All entries become property of The Literate Kitten. You must be 21 or older to play.)

Oh, and while you're casting your vote, you might share a classic you've never read...just to make me feel a tiny bit less like a literary outcast.


Stefanie said...

I've not read much by James, but Turn of the Screw is quite good.

There are quite a few classics I haven't read, but I 'fess up to Anna Karenina today. :)

Anonymous said...

I'd have to vote for "Portrait of a Lady." I love Henry James. No one constructs a sentence better than he does.

I played my share of quarters, too...ah, the good old days!

There are so many classics I haven't read! For now, I'll just say "War and Peace."

AC said...

You know, I would totally vote .... if I were of legal age. ;) I'll just make a nonbinding suggestion then -- start with The Turn of the Screw.

I have not read any Fitzgerald or any Salinger. Aspersions for me, please.

Rebecca H. said...

What fun! I like the idea of having people vote! My vote would be for Portrait of a Lady. I liked it a lot. And a classic I've never read? How about Don Quixote?

litlove said...

Hmmmm, for James I'm going to say 'Washington Square'.

As for the hundreds of novelists I really ought to have read and haven't, how about: George Orwell, Nathanial Hawthorne, William Faulkner, Nabokov, Turgenev, Hemingway, Tolstoy, James Joyce and Joseph Conrad. And there are many more....

LK said...

Thank you, I do feel less lonely knowing there are other literate minds out there who have missed some of the Klassiks too.