The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme with a prompt featuring a book related question. The hop begins on a Friday and ends on a Thursday and should hopefully give people the opportunity to learn something new about the blogger.
The Book Blogger Hop can be found on Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer and obviously my answers can be found here!
Last week it was all about size and this week it’s about age.
I’ve come at this one in my usual way because as I mentioned last week – my memory = rubbish. At least I think that’s what I said.
I’ve utilised my good ol’ Goodreads record which tells me the oldest publication date of books that I’ve read and recorded for just over a year plus it gives me the oldest publication date of books I’ve put on my TBR.
Goodreads informs me that the oldest publication date I’ve read is 1901 with this book of American Fairy Tales:-
Goodreads also informs me that if I ever get around to reading the books on my TBR pile the Goblin Market will top that as it’s even older with a publication of 1862:-
Not bad, not bad. I mean it’s no Book of Kells but in 1862 Queen Victoria was head of state in the United Kingdom and the USA was rocking Abraham Lincoln so it’s still pretty old.
Despite this book being ‘pretty old’ it’s definitely not one of the oldest I’ve read. When racking my brains to consider what could possibly be included in my list of ‘oldest published work’ I went back in time in my own personal history.
I asked myself, “When and where would I have read published works that pre-date 1862?”
Oh that’s right.
My friend’s son has just finished his GCSE’s* and one of the books they studied for English Literature was Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. This is a 2005 dystopian sci-fi which was no way near being written when I was at school but boy I wish it had been.
It’s ok, I did get a dystopian – Lord of the Flies. Which, by the way, is still on the GCSE English Literature Curriculum in 2019 along with A Christmas Carol, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, An Inspector Calls and Of Mice and Men some 18 years later after I studied them.
To say I’m shocked at how little the curriculum has changed in just under 20 years is an understatement because I cannot believe that just because a book has been around forever that we cannot select from the variety of other books that have also been around forever.
I’m all for studying classics but there’s more than just 5 you know?!
Although A Christmas Carol and Macbeth are older than Goblin Market (1843 and 1606 respectively) I did read something at school that is even older and was read in the long course Religious Studies course I did.
No, I’m not talking about The Bible. I am talking about a work which ties with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798) for the most frustrated I’ve ever felt while reading a narrative poem.
Want a clue? Have a picture:-
This is ‘Dante and Virgil’ painted in 1850 by William-Adolphe Bouguereau depicting one of many scenes that Dante saw on his travels through the afterlife with his guide.
Oh yes, the Divine Comedy by Dante completed in 1320 is one of the oldest (if not the oldest) published pieces of work I remember reading. I also remember wanting to pull my hair out but that’s because the language was so painfully convoluted and I was 16.
The story though is pretty interesting and some of the imagery has stuck with me after all this time. Not bad for a story pushing 700 years old.
*GCSE’s are a UK qualification that are taken by school children when they are 15/ 16 years old. I don’t know what they are like now but when I did them there were about 12 subjects to pass with multiple pieces of coursework and exams for each subject. I know much has changed but the general level of stress and anxiety felt sadly seems to be the same.
Sam @ Fictionally Sam talks about a topic which is painfully close to my heart right now – Reading Slumps
Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books gives us 20 YA Books to Read for Pride Month
Vicky @ Vicky Who Reads has considered Four Book Quadruplets aka Grouped Book Recommendations on Steroids
Siobhan @ Siobhan Novelties asks us to consider to Stop Supporting the Sales of ARCs
What’s the oldest book you’ve ever read? Actually scrap that. Doesn’t have to be a book, can be anything that has been published words – poetry collections, narrative poetry, plays etc.
Did you enjoy it? Did you understand it? I only ask because there’s a lot to be said for language changing our enjoyment of work over the years. I only feel I understood a lot of what we were taught simply because we were being taught.
On a side note – I’m curious as to what exams/ English Literature/ school is like in the UK now but also what they are like in other countries. I’m generally fascinated by the education system of other countries and what is studied and how this changes (or not) over time.
Feel free to drop a comment below about either of those subjects – oldest work and/ or school exams.
Until next week when I talk about if I have ever been called a book nerd or some other bookish ‘insult.’