My First Little Black Classics

Finally. I have finally started reading the Penguin Little Black Classics. There are 80 of them and I have now finished two. That’s a start at least.

The Yellow Wall-Paper

One of these belongs to my housemate who owns 10 of the cute, little books. This book was The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a collection of three short stories that deal with madness, supernatural and death.

Of these, the first story, the title story, was my favourite. This is about a woman who moves to an old mansion one summer. She slowly becomes obsessed with the wallpaper in their bedroom and gradually falls further into psychosis. It is a fascinating and disturbing read and definitely one that makes you think.

The second short story, The Rocking Chair, is about two men who become obsessed with a woman in a rocking chair, one who is always in their hotel room when they’re out but vanishing once they get through the door – it had quite a supernatural feel to it.

The third short story, Old Water, was the least eerie of the three, while still retaining a sense of madness, fear and death that permeated the other short stories. This was also my least favourite of the three, but was still very good.

All three short stories were fascinating reads that really captured the imagination – you could almost feel like you were part of those stories, sinking slowly into the madness that had already latched onto the characters. As such, it was quite scary to read at times; but still, worth the read.

Sappho

The second Little Black Classic could not be more different. This one was Come Close, a collection of poetry by Sappho, one of the great Greek poets. I am not really one for poetry; I prefer prose, so this was a bit of an adventure for me. While these were harder to get into than Perkins Gilman’s short stories, I did find them surprisingly easy to read and understand.

My main issue with this book was that it was difficult to tell when one poem ended and the next began in some cases. These were not too frequently, thankfully, but it did make some of them a little difficult to work out.

I did, however, enjoy that the poems were split into themes and that, while none of the poems were very long, they did a very good job of capturing the emotion of the poem’s narrator. Having the references to Greek gods and mortals was also particularly fascinating as it allowed me to take a step back in time and read the poems as if I was in ancient Greece myself (although where the mortals were concerned, it was a bit confusing as to who they were).

All in all, I am quite happy with my two Little Black Classics reads and I am looking forward to more in the future. Although, given there are 78 left to read, I’m not entirely sure where to start.

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