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Classics Discussion Questions

  1. For the person who chose this book: What made you want to read it? What made you suggest it to the group for discussion? Did it live up to your expectations? Why or why not?

  2. How is the book structured? Does the author use any narrative devices like flashbacks or multiple voices in telling the story? How did this affect your reading of the story and your appreciation of the book? Do you think the author did a good job with it? For works of fiction, how do you think it might have been different if another character was telling the story?

  3. Talk about the author's use of language and writing style. Have each member read his or her favorite passage out loud. (You might want to warn them ahead of time that they'll be doing this so they'll be prepared.) How does this particular passage relate to the story as a whole? Does it reveal anything specific about any of the characters or illuminate certain aspects of the story?

  4. Talk about the time period in which the story is set. How well does the author convey the era? How important is the setting to the story? Is the author's description of the landscape/community a good one?

  5. Does the author successfully draw you into the place and time depicted in this book? Why or why not? Did you find yourself totally immersed in the world of the characters, or were you unable to fully envision their lives and circumstances?

  6. Did you learn anything new about the time period depicted in the book? What, if anything, surprised you?

  7. Why does this book continue to appeal to modern-day readers? What timeless aspects of the story do you relate to?

  8. Which characters did you find the most compelling and/or relatable and why? Are there any characters that seem to embody a kind of timelessness? For example, was there something about their manner or their views that felt modern or familiar?

  9. Do you think this novel has had an impact on modern works? What facets of the author's style do you see echoed by today's writers? Are there any contemporary writers who succeed in modernizing elements of this author's style? Do these modern writers remain faithful to the technical and thematic characteristics that define the classic work?

  10. Is this the first time you have read this classic book? If not, what new insights and observations have you discovered? Did you find this a pleasurable reading experience, or did it feel more like an assignment?

  11. Compare this book to others your group has read. Is it similar to any of them? Did you like it more or less than other books you've read? What do you think will be your lasting impression of the book?

  12. What did you like or dislike about the book that hasn't been discussed already? Were you glad you read this book? Would you recommend it to a friend? Have you read other works by this author? If not, will you do so now?