Friday, March 15, 2024

Five of the best books inspired by classic novels

Sophie Ratcliffe is professor of literature and creative criticism at the University of Oxford and a fellow and tutor at Lady Margaret Hall. In addition to her scholarly books, including On Sympathy, she has published commentary pieces and book reviews for the Guardian, the New Statesman, and the Times Literary Supplement, among other outlets, and has served a judge for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction and the Wellcome Book Prize.

Ratcliffe's forthcoming book is Loss, A Love Story: Imagined Histories and Brief Encounters.

At the Guardian she tagged five top books inspired by classic novels, including:
Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes

Retired doctor, Geoffrey Braithwaite, is obsessed with works of Gustave Flaubert. But gradually, his diligent accretion of details about Flaubert’s fiction reveal themselves as a carapace – and a way of avoiding his own reality. The layers of this brilliant love story lift painfully, with the ghost of Flaubert’s most famous heroine, Madame Bovary, drifting beneath the surface. Flaubert’s Parrot doubles back on itself so many times it feels like a corridor of mirrors. But you’re left, in the end, not with emptiness, but with a feeling of generous, sorrowful yearning. “Books”, Braithwaite bleakly reflects, “make sense of life. The only problem is that the lives they make sense of are other people’s lives, never your own.”
Read about another entry on the list.

Flaubert’s Parrot is among Antoine Laurain's top ten books about books and Álvaro Enrigue's ten notable books based on other books.

--Marshal Zeringue