For my last freelancing assignment, I was fortunate to bag a project which required me to read four classic novels. During the course of initial project discussion, when I first heard the names of those novels, I was like – Always wanted to read them, but never got around to it (except for one novel of which I had never heard before). So I happily grabbed the opportunity and I must say it was the best work assignment I ever delivered. Why The Best? Because 1: It involved Classic read which is always an absolute pleasure and 2: Even after finishing the assignment, I was so consumed by those books that I couldn’t just let go and so watched the Black & White movie/play adaptations of these novels . The end result… I felt complete
The First novel in this Classic series was Rebecca (1938) by English Author Daphne du Maurier. Rebecca is famously known for its opening line, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…” You read this and you get intrigued, but when you watch the movie, the voice stays with you forever.
The novel has been printed in 16 languages, sold over 2 million copies between its publication in 1938 and 1965, and the book has never gone out of print. Interestingly, this novel’s first adaption medium was Radio. There were many Television & Theater adaptations of Rebecca too. On the silver screen the best adaptation version is by Alfred Hitchcock (1940) which also won Academy Awards. Now, most movie versions deviate a little from the original book and here too Rebecca’s murder was altered to make it seem that Rebecca’s death was accidental. The movie also implies that Mrs. Danvers dies in the fire which she started, but in the novel, a lot is left to the reader’s imagination. Having said so, the movie is a must watch, but only after reading the book.
B&W Movie Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cf0-GsXDzI
Book Cover: 1971 print by Avon Books
My Second reading adventure was Don Quixote (originally published in 1605) by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra as The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha. The novel was first written in Spanish and later translated and published in English. Don Quixote was originally published in two volumes, in 1605 and 1615, however it is now published as one single work.
I had never heard of Don Quixote before (Yes, I am not proud of my ignorance here) and hence was eager to read it.
The protagonist Alonso Quixano and his squire Sancho both are charming, frustratingly funny and big dreamers. The author’s vision of each incident left me in awe. My favorite adventure is when Don Quixote puts up a fight with the windmills thinking they are evil giants. The novel was adapted into a movie – Adventures of Don Quixote (1933). Of course, there were many more adaptations of movie and Television series, abridged book versions and animated movie version for children, but none could truly cover the literary work completely as it is vast. I would highly recommend this for all kinds of ages.
B&W Movie Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdBNns5eD0s
Book Cover: 1993 edition by Wordsworth Classics
My Third spectacular book was Godan (1936) by Munshi Premchand. The book was originally written in Hindi and later translated into English (1987) as The Gift of a Cow. The story revolves around many characters representing the various sections of the Indian community. Horiram is the main character in this book whose quest for a Cow leads him and his family through many turmoils in life. This novel has been translated into several languages (over 30 I believe) of the world. Godan was the last complete novel by Premchand.
The English translated version has many typing errors and grammatical mistakes. If you are competent at reading Hindi then going for the original version is the best. This book was adapted into a Hindi film in 1963 by the same name. Again, the intricacies of the novel and its characters couldn’t be completely justified in the movie, but I do think it a very well made one.
In 2004, Godaan was part of the 26-episode TV series, Tehreer…. Munshi Premchand Ki produced by Doordarshan.
B&W Movie Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elo4HBqgUyo
I also stumbled upon a live play adaptation of Godan on YouTube and here is the link to the same: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hf_-pSLlgio
Book Cover: 2011 edition by Diamond Books
My Last captivating book was Anandamath (1882), a Bengali novel written by Bankim Chandra Chatterji. Its First English publication was titled: The Abbey of Bliss (1906) and later as Dawn Over India (1941). The novel is set in a period of the great famine of Bengal and depicts the freedom struggles for the Indian Independence against the British Raj. The movement is set against a backdrop of Sanyasis as freedom fighters. This novel was banned by the British, however, was the ban was later lifted by the Government of India after independence.
Thou with sweet springs flowing,
Thou fair fruits bestowing,
Cool with zephyrs blowing,
Green with corn-crops growing,
India’s national song Vande Mataram was first published in this novel. The novel was later adapted into a film with the same name in 1952. I loved the movie as much as the book.
B&W Movie Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSR3nDzvECc
Book Cover: 2006 edition by Orient Paperbacks
I have not given a detailed review of these four novels as it feels like reinventing the wheels. They are already classics. They don’t need reviews. Also, if you have read these books then you would appreciate the beauty of the same and if you haven’t, well, I hope the teasers would be good enough for you to go pick your copy right now. All these four books are easily available in PDF format for free online, but believe me when I say, you got to own a copy for they are timeless treasures. The B&W movies are great watch. Also, I have been told that these four books will, in the near future, be part of the school curriculum (abridged versions of course). How Fantastic will that be, huh?! Happy Reading Folks