Monday October 19th, 2009

Bringing Back a Classic

rasselasThe BBC is conducting a project of which the Second Pass heartily approves. Prominent authors are recommending “forgotten classics” to be rescued from obscurity. Radio 4 listeners have heard the authors’ cases for their choices, and a vote will determine which book gets new attention by being adapted into a radio serial.

Howard Jacobson recommended The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia by Samuel Johnson. It was Johnson’s only work of prose fiction, “[w]ritten in a week to pay for his mother’s funeral.”

Rasselas is an example of how a novel can fall from favor. It was widely read in the 19th century and is read by characters in Jane Eyre, Middlemarch and Little Women. “It is the seedbed for that tradition of novels of female compassion,” Jacobson added.

A full list of the possibilities can be found here.