Jump to content

Menu

Classics: which are the most 'uplifting'?


Recommended Posts

Which classics have you read that have been uplifting for you? I felt pretty depressed after reading 1984, and a couple of others. 

 

So far, for me, these are my favorites for being uplifting:

 

Don Quixote (the entire 1000 pages are wonderful)

The Hobbit and LOTR

Narnia Series

The Giver

 

Over to you

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, 1984 is utterly depressing. That's the point. (The Giver, btw, is not actually a classic; it is barely 25 years old. And I found it rather disturbing and not what I would call uplifting)

 

But there is SO much wonderful fun stuff. Some of my favorites:

Thornton Wilder's work, especially The Eighth Day

Gabriel Garcia Marquez 100 years of Solitude and Love in times of the Cholera

Bulgakov Master and Margarita

Steinbeck Cannnery Row is hillarious. Grapes of Wrath is actually an inspiring tale about the resilliance of humans.

Dumas Count of Monte Cristo (the revenge is very satisfying) , Three Musketeers (which is actually quite funny)

Stanislaw Lem Star Diaries and his other sci fi works

Jaroslav Hasek The good soldier Swejk (biting satire on WW1)

Edited by regentrude
  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

Happy, inspiring feel good book recs

S/O Steinbeck thread: I need novels that don't have a tragic/fatalistic worldview

High School Literature suggestions that aren't so dark and depressing

Help! Need some modern wold literature that is not depressing

High Literature which is encouraging

Suggestions for meaty but not depressing classics for teenagers

Looking for upbeat literature selections

Need North American novels that are not depressing!!

OK, last one for today… I promise: American Lit, favorite light, funny...

American Literature -- happy/uplifting

 

I think humor is very underrated in classic Literature, as our modern society that focuses on the negative, the dark, the ironic. So I'll recommend a good dose of several humorous, joyful books to counteract the despairing worldview of 1984. PG Wodehouse is a master of humor -- he makes it look so light and effortless that you almost discount his work as a classic just because he makes you laugh: Life With Jeeves is a fun introduction to the Wooster and Jeeves characters, and Wodehouse on Crime is a fun short story collection of "crimes", featuring a number of his reoccuring characters.

 

Also James Thurber's short stories such as "The Catbird Seat" and "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," or his novella-length The Thirteenth Clock which delightfully plays with language. Don't forget O. Henry short stories, such as "The Ransom of Red Chief". And Mark Twain short stories are often bitingly humorous.

 

How about a few humorous classic plays:

The Importance of Being Earnest 

Pygmalion

You Can't Take it With You

Arsenic and Old Lace

 

You mentioned works by JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis -- more works by those authors might be in order. Tolkien's short stories are very uplifting -- and the first if very humorous to boot:

"Farmer Giles of Ham"

"Smith of Wooton Major"

"Leaf by Niggle"

 

CS Lewis' space trilogy is meaty, and hard things happen in it, but ultimately very uplifting worldview. The first two books of Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra are really focused on the adventure element, while the third book, That Hideous Strength does paint a picture of evil, which takes most of the book until it's dealt with. Another Christian author I find to be uplifting is GK Chesterton; check out The Man Who Thursday, and the Father Brown short stories.

 

Hannah Hurnard's Hind's Feet on High Places is a very obvious Christian allegory, but is very uplifting, albeit heavy-handed due to the allegorical aspect.

 

Some other uplifting classics:

Shakespeare comedies

All Creatures Great and Small

Anne of Green Gables

Little Women

Enchanted April

The Little White Horse

Jane Austen works

To Kill a Mockingbird

A Christmas Carol

Silas Marner

Gilead

Edited by Lori D.
  • Like 12
Link to post
Share on other sites

...Gabriel Garcia Marquez 100 years of Solitude...

... Grapes of Wrath is actually an inspiring tale about the resilliance of humans...

 

Regentrude, I usually agree with you, but I have to say that I had a completely different (non-uplifted) reaction after reading these 2 works.

 

Grapes of Wrath -- a powerfully written book and worth reading, but NOT uplifting at all for me. Yes, I guess it does show resilience, but it's a resilience with no hope for the future. The family keeps dwindling in size due to deaths and menfolk running off, but those who remain keep trying to make the best of a bad situation that keeps getting worse. And thematically, the very end scene of the book in which the daughter, Rose of Sharon, who has just lost her baby to death uses her milk to nurse an old man is ultimately an image of death -- she's not nurishing the future, but keeping alive a dying past. And her husband has run off, so there is no hope of more offspring for a new future. For me, uplifting is about more than "just surviving."

 

100 Years of Solitude is an incredible work of great poetry and stunnng, creative imagery -- but it is so careless all the way through about people as humans with hearts and hopes and goals, and it has a horribly depressing end. The novel follows a family about whom it is prophesied early on in the work that "the first will be tied to a tree, and the last will be eaten by ants." And that's exactly what happens -- the patriarch, late in his life loses his mind (i.e., his humanity), and is tied to a tree like an animal so he won't wander off; and the last offspring of the 4-5 generations of this family, a baby, is neglected by his parents; as they're off having s*x, the baby is found by ants and eaten because he can't crawl away. There's nothing uplifting about such a low view of humanity for me.

 

Not at ALL trying to be oppositional or pick on you Regentrude. :) I do agree that both of these works are high on the "must read" list of classics. But they are not what I would call "uplifting".

Edited by Lori D.
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitely Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde. Social satire, novels of manners can be very funny. I don't know if that counts as uplifting, but I feel good after reading them.

Our Town, by Thornton Wilder - inspires me to pay more attention to the everyday, to the mundane in my life

Cry, The beloved Country - beautiful, sad, inspiring

My Antonia by Willa Cather

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

My favorite author is Charles Dickens, and I think every one of his books has a good, uplifting ending.  They do cover a lot of complex issues and are generally quite deep with some painful events, but the ending is always hopeful and uplifting.  

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Grapes of Wrath -- a powerfully written book and worth reading, but NOT uplifting at all for me. Yes, I guess it does show resilience, but it's a resilience with no hope for the future. The family keeps dwindling in size due to deaths and menfolk running off, but those who remain keep trying to make the best of a bad situation that keeps getting worse. And thematically, the very end scene of the book in which the daughter, Rose of Sharon, who has just lost her baby to death uses her milk to nurse an old man is ultimately an image of death -- she's not nurishing the future, but keeping alive a dying past. And her husband has run off, so there is no hope of more offspring for a new future. For me, uplifting is about more than "just surviving."

 

It is interesting that we come to so very different interpretations. For me, the last scene is a culminating description of humanity's strength: to save another human's life, a woman who has experienced tragedy and who is in dire circumstances commits an act that is completely contrary to societal norms, but gives the gift of life. I find this a beautiful image in the midst of desolation, and I see hope in it. :)

And I love how beautifully the author describes everything, and the strength of the mother who keeps what remains of her family together, and how hard they are willing to work for a better future. 

 

Not wanting to argue, either - just wanted to explain my side :)

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

It is interesting how different books affect us differently. I found Jane Eyre depressing in high school and warned my oldest not to read it when she asked about it in junior high. She read it anyway and loved it. You just never know. A lot of it has to do with where you are in life's journey.

 

My kids found these classics to be particularly uplifting:

 

Homer's Odyssey

Xenophon's Persian Expedition

Virgil's Aeneid

Cicero's Basic Works

The Voyage of St. Brendan

Dante's Purgatory and Paradise

Asser's Life of Alfred

Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain

Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing

Austen's Pride and Prejudice

 

 

 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

It is interesting that we come to so very different interpretations. For me, the last scene is a culminating description of humanity's strength: to save another human's life, a woman who has experienced tragedy and who is in dire circumstances commits an act that is completely contrary to societal norms, but gives the gift of life. I find this a beautiful image in the midst of desolation, and I see hope in it. :)

And I love how beautifully the author describes everything, and the strength of the mother who keeps what remains of her family together, and how hard they are willing to work for a better future. 

 

Not wanting to argue, either - just wanted to explain my side :)

 

I greatly appreciate you taking the time to share this! I always find it so helpful to hear the thoughts of someone else with a very different take than my own. :)

 

 

It is interesting how different books affect us differently. I found Jane Eyre depressing in high school and warned my oldest not to read it when she asked about it in junior high. She read it anyway and loved it. You just never know. A lot of it has to do with where you are in life's journey.

 

Yes, exactly! :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there any explicit violence and gore in this book? I'm looking at this translation: The Expedition of Cyrus (which I believe is the name as Persian Expedition?). 

 

We read this version:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Persian-Expedition-Penguin-Classics/dp/0140440070/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

 

I don't remember explicit gore, the kind you read in The Illiad, but that could be because it has been a couple of years. It was definitely a military story, but what stands out in my memory is Xenophon's leadership. Hope this helps. :)

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

To Kill A Mockingbird

The Gift of the Magi

My Dd found My Antonia depressing. I personally found To Kill A Mockingbird upsetting, and The Gift of the Magi (O'Henry) just gets me mad at the character's stupidity every time I read it. (I feel the same about The Necklace.)

 

These lists will definitely be YMMV!

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

My Dd found My Antonia depressing. I personally found To Kill A Mockingbird upsetting, and The Gift of the Magi (O'Henry) just gets me mad at the character's stupidity every time I read it. (I feel the same about The Necklace.)

 

These lists will definitely be YMMV!

The Necklace left deep imprint on my soul. I was so traumatized. So of course I had dd read it last year. She was like, "That was the Worst Story Ever!!" :lol:

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...