Anyone who knows me knows that weird nasally voice with which I occasionally exclaim “You know what? I’m going to start reading more classics this year.” And, you guessed it, I never actually read more classics. Every year, I’d read maybe one or two classics and give up after that. So, this year, when I was introduced to Penguin Little Black classics, I decided to finally try to fulfill this dream. I bought this book and Lady Susan by Jane Austen. Will I be reading more classics? You have to get to the end of this post for the answer.
‘It was like walking along the knife-edge of the highest possible mountain range, seeing life on one side and death on the other in the form of two deep, gorgeous and gleaming seascapes.’ This astonishing novella from 1908, newly translated for Little Black Classics by War and Peace translator Anthony Briggs, probes the emotions and experiences of seven people condemned to death in Tsarist Russia. With a powerful and subtle exploration of the morality of capital punishment, it was a best-seller at the time, and, in a strange quirk of history, influenced the conspirators in the cataclysmic assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914.
I was going through a horrible reading slump while reading this book. It took me a month to finish this 106 page book. And trust me, when they say Little Black Classic, it actually is Little. The slump was definitely not due to this book, though.
This is a very well written story about 7 people awaiting their deaths by hanging. We are briefly told about why they got convicted in the first place. This is followed by individual chapters dedicated to each of the seven condemned, showing us the emotions they go through while they await their deaths.
For a translated book, Seven Hanged is a literary masterpiece. The writing is absolutely brilliant. The writing is so good in some places, I was having deep, visceral reactions. If this were made into a movie, I’m sure it would be a blockbuster hit. This is a book everyone should read at least once in their lifetime. And preferably not when they’re going through a reading slump. (For I’m sure my review would’ve been more coherent if I hadn’t spread the reading of this book over 30 days.)
And to answer the question at the top of the page, I think 2016 is also going to be a 2-classics-only kinda year. I’ve always taken more time to read classics than other books. And I really need to knock some books off my TBR list. Let’s aim for 2017, shall we? 😀
Rating: 4 out of 5
General update a.k.a my pathetic attempt at showing off about certain things:
- The next book I’m going to read is Gone Girl. I’ve successfully avoided all spoilers; I know exactly zero things about the book. (Go ahead and tell me I’m awesome in the comments.) I can’t wait to get to it. Bye-bye, slump!
- Yesterday, I finally remembered that I’ve been working for the past 3 months. Being a working human -> Money earned -> More books without getting on parents’ nerves. I ordered 5 books in one go and I’m really excited about all of them. If I figure out how to take a decent photo with my phone’s camera, I’ll post pictures of these new babies soon. 😀