Over the past few months I have taken to listening to "classics" on tape while I wash the dishes. As we don't have a dishwasher, I actually end up listening to books quite frequently.
Last year I started with Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now, which I really enjoyed and which had eerie overtones considering our current financial crisis (everyone in Trollope's book was "speculating," and there's a character who's definitely Madoffesque). Then I moved it along to E.M. Forster's A Room with a View*, which I enjoyed the hell out of. I chose that one because I saw a bit of the Masterpiece Theatre production of it on PBS, and thought, oh, I'll just get the video from the library. Then I further smartened up and realized I could actually read the book, or at least listen to it. What a novel idea!
This year, however, things have stalled a bit, as I'm making my way through Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence. It's interesting, but am I correct in guessing that ol' Edith didn't have much of a sense of humor? I chuckled quite a bit through the Trollope and the Forster turned out to be way more amusing than I thought it would, but any chuckling I'm doing during this one is because her main character, Newland Archer, is such a dud (and also because I keep picturing Daniel Day-Lewis in the role, from the 1993 movie, and it makes me giggle).
Now, I am predisposed to liking British authors, and thinking they're a bit more humorous than most. Is that true, do you think? Are British classics funnier than American ones? If anyone has an American "classics" author they think is rather lighthearted, please do let me know.* I'll need a new book tape soon.
*It also has my vote for some of the best character names ever: Lucy Honeychurch and Cecil Vyse.
**I hate to rain on any parades but please don't suggest Mark Twain. I have never understood the appeal of Mark Twain's humor.