On this St. Patrick’s Day, let us celebrate the Irish by honoring their fabulous writers and listing my favorite works by them. I happen to be partial to the Irish because, well, I am one.
1. Oscar Wilde
a) An Ideal Husband is a perfect little play about the difficulties that arise for a “perfect” man with faults, and an imperfect man who makes good choies. While the tone is light, strong messages about conventional love and dangerous ideals run throughout. It has a Jane Austen feel.
b) The Picture of Dorian Gray is Wilde’s only novel, and well worth reading. After becoming the subject of a portrait, a vain man sells his soul to keep his physical beauty while his portrait must age. The more corrupt he becomes, the more the portrait–a reflection of his soul and true physical body–ages and becomes grotesque. It has a Poe feel.
2) Frank McCourt
a) Angela’s Ashes is the first in McCourt’s series of memoirs of life growing up poor, Irish, and Catholic. Its text is both charming and sober.
b) ‘Tis is the second memoir dealing with McCourt’s early adulthood in New York City.
3) James Joyce
a) A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is Joyce’s thinly veiled memoir through his alter ego, Stephen Dedalus, as he rebels against his family and religion and moves to Paris.
b) Ulysses–I’m sorry to say that I haven’t yet read this, but it is a continuation of Portrait, is controversial, and is, apparently, very ambitious. I’ll have to get my hands on it soon.
4) Bram Stoker
a) Dracula (no description necessary.)
And my personal favorite…
5) C. S. Lewis
a) Mere Christianity is Lewis’ account of how he transformed from an atheist to a Christian. He literally reasons and proves his way to God. Seriously. A must read for all atheists, Christians, and anyone in between.
b) Abolition of Man is a heady tome about the insanity of expecting humanity out of society when we instruct it to live and work and think without a heart. Short but dense.
c) The Screwtape Letters is a fictional piece of letters between two demons–an uncle and his nephew. The uncle demon instructs the nephew demon on how to ensnare and corrupt humans. Its tone is light, but it is deeply disturbing. I want to crawl under my bed and not come out for days when I finish it.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 🙂