The 1924 Club: how did it go?

1924 ClubWell, that was brilliant, everyone! By my count, we have had 42 reviews in for The 1924 Club, which is truly wonderful. And what is even better is the effort people put in to finding unusual and unexpected books to read from 1924. It really helped to build up a broad and fascinating picture of the year.

(Oh, if you have reviews still to come, or I’ve missed any, do yell – but here is the list to date).

When I thought of this experiment (and was thrilled that Karen agreed to co-host), I wanted it to give a fun sort of cohesion to the blogosphere’s reading, hoping we could come together to better understand a year of literary history in a way that would have taken months and months for an individual reader. Picking a single year seemed to me a great way to crystallise the many and various concurrent echelons of the reading public – and the range we have covered between us is so brilliant! Everything from Agatha Christie to H.P. Lovecraft, from Hungary to Russia.

What have we learned? Well, none of us ever expected a single answer to that question. There was no sort of book that encapsulated 1924: this project shows how varied the period was. Some authors were trying exciting new things; some were coming to the end of their careers; some were even being published posthumously. Detective fiction and rural novels; experimental prose and dystopias; thrillers and comics. Together we have compiled a picture of what reading meant in 1924 – one which might easily be overlooked if we only think of the stand-out novels of the year.

I’m so grateful to those who have taken part, and for the encouragement from those who weren’t able to. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did – and recommend you look through the list of reviews.

And, so, the big question is… would people be up for doing it again? I was wondering if it could become a biannual event? And that way you’ll get six months’ notice rather than two weeks’…! And, if we do – which year should come next??

 

24 thoughts on “The 1924 Club: how did it go?

  • November 1, 2015 at 1:27 am
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    Uh, yeah, 1924 Pirandello is coming next week. Henry James was just too interesting to abandon this week.

    Yes, more such events, please.

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  • November 1, 2015 at 2:12 am
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    Yes yes yes! This was a brilliant idea. And more lead time would perhaps enable me to post a review during the event. (I did read at least one book but couldn’t fit in a post about it yet — coming soon.)

    I think any year would yield its unexpected gems as well as the known titles. I’d look forward to seeing what emerges from a seemingly random choice.

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    • November 2, 2015 at 4:03 pm
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      Aw, thanks Lory, and thanks for the enthusiasm – I’m looking forward to your post!
      I do love the slightly random nature of it too.

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  • November 1, 2015 at 4:35 am
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    Enjoyed the exercise and will be reading all the reviews published. A little preparation time in advance would be nice. One suggestion might be to chronologically tackle the years, 1924 onward. That way the emergence of new writers/ writing styles / historical events affecting writing might be better appreciated. Hope this will be a biannual event! Thank you.

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    • November 2, 2015 at 4:04 pm
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      There will be definitely be more preparation time next time around! Going year by year is a good idea, but I wonder if it will end up being too similar to 1924? I quite like the idea of darting about. But, yes, there does seem to be enough enthusiasm to make it biannual!

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      • November 3, 2015 at 12:36 am
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        I think the subsequent years might be quite overlapping in retrospect. I quite like the idea of a pre-war (as suggested) or a war year.

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  • November 1, 2015 at 4:46 am
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    Oh, I think it’s a great idea. I didn’t learn about the 1924 club in time to participate, but, I’d definitely be interested in participating in future events. And I think any year would be interesting.

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    • November 2, 2015 at 4:06 pm
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      Thanks Becky! Sorry, there was hardly any prep time for 1924 – but the next one definitely will have :)

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    • November 2, 2015 at 4:06 pm
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      Great, thanks Margaret!

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  • November 1, 2015 at 9:06 am
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    Yes I’d love to join in again and biannually sounds good. It might be interesting to move forward to the 1930s? But also the following on year by year sounds good.

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    • November 2, 2015 at 4:06 pm
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      I think moving onto the 1930s would be a good approach – and Ali’s suggestion of 1938 sound great to me.

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  • November 1, 2015 at 9:22 am
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    I would love a biannual event. My choice would be late1930’s before the outbreak of war around 1938 when there was already a lot of upheaval in Europe and aspects of the coming storm could be felt.

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    • November 2, 2015 at 4:09 pm
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      I think we might have a winner! We could pick one year per decade for a while – and I think 1938 is a great choice. A look at the Wikipedia page suggests there are loads of well known books published, as well (inevitably) as lots of lesser-known gems.

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  • November 1, 2015 at 11:56 am
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    This was great fun Simon – thanks for coming up with the brilliant idea and I really enjoyed being involved! Yes, let’s do it again, most certainly – I was thinking 1930s too, so we’ll have to look for a good year. Biannually is excellent because it will give us time to get organised in advance! :)

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  • November 1, 2015 at 2:38 pm
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    Oh yes please. Any year, but moving to a different decade – mid-late 1930s sounds perfect and I’m sure I could find many books to fit that I’ll enjoy this time.

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  • November 1, 2015 at 8:56 pm
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    I think it would be better to jump around rather than go year by year. My choice would be a random year in the 1950s.

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  • November 2, 2015 at 10:10 am
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    It’s really a great idea and I have really enjoyed reading all the different reviews. More notice would undoubtedly mean more participants, judging by comments on your and Kaggsy’s blogs.

    As for years, I too think jumping around would be more fun. What about 1870?

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  • November 2, 2015 at 3:18 pm
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    I’ll warn that the further back you go, 1) you lose most of the so-called “genre” novels, and 2) the choices will inevitably become more canonical, just based on what is actually available.

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  • November 3, 2015 at 9:37 pm
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    Thanks for hosting! This was fun even though I didn’t do a great job.

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  • November 4, 2015 at 10:24 am
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    Yes, please to another event, yes please to more notice. How about hopping forward 5 years each time as a compromise between seeing the development and jumping around? That would give a nice lot of years to do, and would give us 1939 and 1944 eventually, which would be v interesting.

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  • November 4, 2015 at 6:07 pm
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    I started the Thirteen from 1913 in 2013 but have only read about half so far. To me it was an interesting year, on the cusp of the Great War as well as so much that would change and create “our world”, politics, technology, communication etx. My list started small but grew. It was an amazing year for the printed word. I kept finding more and more good stuff. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:1913_novels for the list where I began to search. I tried to find the best and most representative works that would have a subsequent influence especially on genres that would come to be very popular, e. g. spy stories, speculative fiction, thrillers, detective stories, humor etc. Here’s the List:
    Chance – Joseph Conrad
    The Custom of the Country – Edith Wharton
    The Lost Estate/le Grand Meaulnes – Alain-Fournier
    Swann’s Way – Marcel Proust
    The Little Nugget – P. G. Wodehouse
    Maurice – E. M. Forster (completed in 1913 but not published until 1970s)
    The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu – Sax Rohmer
    O Pioneers! – Willa Cather
    The Passionate Friends – H. G. Wells
    The Poison Belt – Arthur Conan Doyle
    Sinister Street – Compton Mackenzie
    Sons and Lovers – D. H. Lawrence
    Trent’s Last Case – Bentley
    Virginia – Ellen Glasgow
    When William Came – Saki (H. H. Munro)
    The Lodger – Marie Belloc Lowndes
    A Small Boy and Others – Henry James (non fiction)
    The Village in the Jungle – Leonard Woolf
    Petersburg – Andre Bely (not translated into English until more recently)
    The Tunnel – (Kellermann) has not been translated into English as far as I know.

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