2013 - Classics, VOLUME 6

Brad Fruhauff – Writers on the Classics #16

Page 3: Brad Fruhauff on the Classics


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[easyazon-link asin=”1612933238″ locale=”us”]The Metamorphosis[/easyazon-link] Franz Kafka

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The modern version of Ovid is much funnier than the ancient—and intentionally so. Before there was magical realism there was Kafka’s brand of banal surrealism in which his deadpan narrator opens the story with the explanation that, “One morning Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams and found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous insect.” Much of the comedy comes from the way Gregor tries to go about his normal life as if nothing has happened—imagine Bob Newhart in the lead role.

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[easyazon-link asin=”0679600914″ locale=”us”]Tristram Shandy[/easyazon-link]
Laurence Sterne

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There may be no good way to describe this 18th century book. It is part satire, part parody, part Bildungsroman, part sentimental romance, and pretty much all silly. Tristram attempts to relate his life in its merest particulars and discovers that art is long and life is short, finally getting around to the preface in volume three and only getting to his first day of life in volume four. The rest is a series of narrative and reflective digressions worthy of Bugs Bunny. Yet it is actually full of commentary on the then-new empirical philosophy and an exploration of the relevance of sentimentalism for faith and life. This should really be the source for the next Muppet movie, adapted and directed by the Coen brothers.

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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com

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