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View Poll Results: 1901-1920 Vote • May 2014, Multiple Choice
Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad, 1911 7 53.85%
The Gods Are Athirst by Anatole France, 1912 3 23.08%
The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams, 1905 3 23.08%
The Mother by Grazia Deledda, 1920 3 23.08%
The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan, 1915 7 53.85%
Zuleika Dobson, or, an Oxford love story by Max Beerbohm, 1911 5 38.46%
The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion by Ford Madox Ford, 1915 2 15.38%
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, 1920 5 38.46%
Main Street: The Story of Carol Kennicott by Sinclair Lewis, 1920 4 30.77%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 13. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-06-2014, 12:24 PM   #1
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1901-1920 Vote • May 2014

Help us choose the May 2014 selection to read for the MR Literary Club! The poll will be open for three days.

The vote is multiple choice. You may vote for as many or as few as you like.

A discussion thread will begin shortly after a winner is chosen.

In the event of a tie, there will be a one-day non-multiple-choice run-off poll. In the event that the run-off poll also ends in a tie, the tie will be resolved in favour of the selection that received all of its initial nominations first.


Select from the following works:


Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad, 1911
Spoiler:
From Goodreads:

Political turmoil convulses 19th-century Russia, as Razumov, a young student preparing for a career in the czarist bureaucracy, unwittingly becomes embroiled in the assassination of a public official. Asked to spy on the family of the assassin— his close friend — he must come to terms with timeless questions of accountability and human integrity.


From Wikipedia:

Under Western Eyes (1911) is a novel by Joseph Conrad. The novel takes place in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Geneva, Switzerland, and is viewed as Conrad's response to the themes explored in Crime and Punishment; Conrad was reputed to have detested Dostoevsky. It is also, some say, Conrad's response to his own early life; his father was a famous revolutionary imprisoned by the Russians, but, instead of following in his father's footsteps, at the age of sixteen Conrad left his native land forever. Indeed, while writing Under Western Eyes, Conrad suffered a weeks-long breakdown during which he conversed with the novel's characters in Polish.

This novel is considered to be one of Conrad's major works and is close in subject matter to The Secret Agent. It is full of cynicism and conflict about the historical failures of revolutionary movements and ideals. Conrad remarks in this book, as well as others, on the irrationality of life, the opacity of character, the unfairness with which suffering is inflicted upon the innocent and poor, and the careless disregard for the lives of those with whom we share existence.

His narrative style and anti-heroic characters have influenced many authors, including D. H. Lawrence, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Gerald Basil Edwards, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Graham Greene, Malcolm Lowry, William Golding, William S. Burroughs, Joseph Heller, Italo Calvino, Gabriel García Márquez, J. G. Ballard, John le Carré, V. S. Naipaul, Philip Roth, Hunter S. Thompson, J. M. Coetzee and Salman Rushdie.


Available at the MR Library - EPUB of the complete works of Joseph Conrad (uploaded by pynch)


The Gods Are Athirst by Anatole France, 1912
Spoiler:
The Gods Will Have Blood also known as The Gods Are Athirst, The Gods Want Blood or The Gods Are Thirsty (original title Les dieux ont soif), by Anatole France, another Nobel Prize laureate.

The book was published in 1912, and the translation by Mrs Wilfrid Jackson, or you can get the more recent Penguin edition on Amazon or Kobo.


From the back cover of the Penguin edition:

Published in 1912, when Anatole France was sixty-eight, The Gods Will Have Blood is the story of Gamelin, an idealistic young artist appointed as a magistrate during the French Revolution. Gamelin's ideals lead him to the most monstrous mass murder of his countrymen, and the links between Gamelin and his family, his mistress and the humanist Brotteaux are catastrophically severed. The Gods Will Have Blood recreates the violence and devastation of the Terror with breathtaking power, and weaves into it a tale which grips, convinces and profoundly moves. The perfection of Anatole France's prose style, with its myriad subtle ironies, is here translated by Frederick Davies with admirable skill and sensitivity. That The Gods Will Have Blood is Anatole France's masterpiece is beyond doubt. It is also one of the most brilliantly polished novels in French literature.


The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams, 1905
Spoiler:
Written around 1905, privately published in 1907 and winner of the 1919 Pulitzer after publication on Adams' death.


From Amazon:

The Education of Henry Adams is the Pulitzer Prize winning autobiography of Henry Adams. The Education is much more a record of Adams's introspection than of his deeds. It is an extended meditation on the social, technological, political, and intellectual changes that occurred over Adams's lifetime. Adams concluded that his traditional education at Harvard failed to help him come to terms with the rapid changes he saw in his lifetime; hence his need for self-education. Adams repeatedly laments that his formal education, grounded in the classics, history, and literature, as was then the fashion, did not give him the scientific and mathematical knowledge needed to grasp the scientific breakthroughs of the 1890s and 1900s. The organizing thread of the book is how the "proper" schooling and other aspects of his youth, was time wasted; thus his search for self-education through experiences, friendships, and reading. Many consider this the best autobiography ever written.


Public domain, readily available including here at MR: Kindle


The Mother by Grazia Deledda, 1920
Spoiler:
La madre (in English it's also known as The Woman and the Priest), by Maria Grazia Deledda. She was Italian and won the Nobel prize for literature in 1926. This book came out in Italian in 1920, although the first English translations are dated 1922 and 1923.


From Amazon:

The Mother is an unusual book, both in its story and its setting in a remote Sardinian hill village, half civilized and superstitious. But the chief interest lies in the psychological study of the two chief characters, and the action of the story takes place so rapidly (all within the space of two days) and the actual drama is so interwoven with the mental conflict, and all so forced by circumstances, that it is almost Greek in its simple and inevitable tragedy.

The book is written without offence to any creed or opinions, and touches on no questions of either doctrine or Church government. It is just a human problem, the result of primitive human nature against man-made laws it cannot understand.


The Mother has an English translation that is available for free here.


The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan, 1915
Spoiler:
The Thirty-Nine Steps is an adventure novel by the Scottish author John Buchan. It first appeared as a serial in Blackwood's Magazine in August and September 1915 before being published in book form in October that year by William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh. It is the first of five novels featuring Richard Hannay, an all-action hero with a stiff upper lip and a miraculous knack for getting himself out of sticky situations.


Zuleika Dobson, or, an Oxford love story by Max Beerbohm, 1911
Spoiler:
From Amazon:

The all-male campus of Oxford—Beerbohm’s alma mater—is a place where aesthetics holds sway above all else, and where witty intellectuals reign. Things haven’t changed for its privileged student body for years . . . until the beguiling music-hall prestidigitator Zuleika Dobson shows up.

The book’s marvelous prose dances along the line between reality and the absurd as students and dons alike fall at Zuleika’s feet, and she cuts a wide swath across the campus—until she encounters one young aristocrat for whom she is astonished to find she has feelings.

As Zuleika, and her creator, zero in on their targets, the book takes some surprising and dark twists on its way to a truly startling ending—an ending so striking that readers will understand why Virginia Woolf said that “Mr. Beerbohm in his way is perfect.”


Some quotes:

Virginia Woolf- "Mr. Beerbohm in his way is perfect . . . He has brought personality into literature, not unconsciously and impurely, but so consciously and purely that we do not know whether there is any relation between Max the essayist and Mr. Beerbohm the man. We only know that the spirit of personality permeates every word that he writes . . . He is without doubt the prince of his profession.”

Evelyn Waugh- “Beerbohm was a genius of the purest kind. He stands at the summit of his art.”

E.M. Forster- “Zuleika Dobson is a highly accomplished and superbly written book whose spirit is farcical. It is a great work—the most consistent achievement of fantasy in our time . . . So funny and charming, so iridescent yet so profound.”

Bertrand Russell- “I read Zuleika Dobson with pleasure. It represents the Oxford that the two World Wars have destroyed with a charm that is not likely to be reproduced anywhere in the world for the next thousand years.”


Availability-

Patricia Clark Memorial Library -
Kindle PRC IMP LRF (all uploaded by Patricia, whom our library here at MobileRead is named after)
EPUB of the complete works of Max Beerbohm (uploaded by pynch)

Kobo


The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion by Ford Madox Ford, 1915
Spoiler:
From Goodreads:

"A Tale of Passion," as its subtitle declares, The Good Soldier relates the complex social and sexual relationships between two couples, one English, one American, and the growing awareness by the American narrator John Dowell of the intrigues and passions behind their orderly Edwardian facade. It is the attitude of Dowell, his puzzlement, uncertainty, and the seemingly haphazard manner of his narration that make the book so powerful and mysterious. Despite its catalogue of death, insanity, and despair, the novel has many comic moments, and has inspired the work of several distinguished writers, including Graham Greene.


It's available from the University of Adelaide ebook publications here.

It's also in the MR library.


The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, 1920
Spoiler:
Winner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize, The Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton’s masterful portrait of desire and betrayal during the sumptuous Golden Age of Old New York, a time when society people “dreaded scandal more than disease.”

This is Newland Archer’s world as he prepares to marry the beautiful but conventional May Welland. But when the mysterious Countess Ellen Olenska returns to New York after a disastrous marriage, Archer falls deeply in love with her. Torn between duty and passion, Archer struggles to make a decision that will either courageously define his life—or mercilessly destroy it.


Available at the MR Library - EPUB of the complete works of Edith Wharton (uploaded by pynch)


Main Street: The Story of Carol Kennicott by Sinclair Lewis, 1920
Spoiler:
It was published in 1920 so it should make it just under the wire.


This from Indigo:

This is America—a town of a few thousand, in a region of wheat and corn and dairies and little groves." So Sinclair Lewis—, recipient of the Nobel Prize and rejecter of the Pulitzer —prefaces his novel Main Street. Lewis is brutal in his depictions of the self-satisfied inhabitants of small-town America, a place which proves to be merely an assemblage of pretty surfaces, strung together and ultimately empty.


This from Goodreads:

Main Street, the story of an idealistic young woman's attempts to reform her small town, brought Lewis immediate acclaim when it was published in 1920. It remains one of the essential texts of the American scene. Lewis Mumford observed: "In Main Street an American had at last written of our life with something of the intellectual rigor and critical detachment that had seemed so cruel and unjustified [in Charles Dickens and Matthew Arnold]. Young people had grown up in this environment, suffocated, stultified, helpless, but unable to find any reason for their spiritual discomfort. Mr. Lewis released them."
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Old 05-06-2014, 08:40 PM   #2
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Some great choices once again - what a team we are to be sure!

The hard decision was which ones to leave out, but I'm sure I would be happy to read any of them.
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Old 05-06-2014, 08:56 PM   #3
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In case it helps the choice, both The Gods are Thirsty and Main Street are available in the Adelaide University ebooks collection.

If you don't know it, it's worth adding to your collection of ebook sources, as all the ones I have had from there are good clean copies, and they are available in either Kindle or ePub. The website is http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au
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Old 05-08-2014, 11:02 PM   #4
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I went with the 39 steps which is available here at MR.
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Old 05-09-2014, 12:47 PM   #5
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And we have a tie! Looking at who had yet to vote, I thought that that might happen at the last minute...literally.

For my part, I thought the selection this month was really good and couldn't decide at the beginning nor at the end, so decided not to vote since voting for all of them would be pointless (and, near the end, thought that with the probably-happening tie that I could wait until the run-off to decide, if I must...perhaps the run-off will be more lop-sided and therefore easier).

I will put up the run-off in awhile, to give people a chance to see the that there's a tie first.

Last edited by sun surfer; 05-09-2014 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 05-09-2014, 07:36 PM   #6
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I voted for both of these so it looks like I'm going to be happy regardless of the outcome.
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Old 05-09-2014, 08:06 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by caleb72 View Post
I voted for both of these so it looks like I'm going to be happy regardless of the outcome.
We do our best to keep our customers happy!

I'm barracking for Conrad, as I haven't read that one and, I have read Buchan a couple of times during my misspent youth and adulthood.
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Old 05-09-2014, 08:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bookpossum View Post
I'm barracking for Conrad, as I haven't read that one and, I have read Buchan a couple of times


I also think Conrad will make for a better discussion.
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Old 05-10-2014, 02:02 AM   #9
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I don't think I'll know what I'm going to vote until I click the button. On the one hand, I nominated Buchan because I haven't read this book and it's on my TBR pile. On the other, the Conrad book looks good and wasn't on my TBR pile.

So it's a matter of deciding whether to go for the book I wanted to read and probably will read when I get to it, and a book that looks good, but that I wouldn't have thought of reading if it weren't for this book club.

It's tempting to opt out and just let the remaining voters decide for me.
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Old 05-10-2014, 08:07 AM   #10
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The one-day run-off poll is up!
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