Without giving too much away, my modern YA novel idea requires me to read and research a lot of 1800s-era novels, starting with HG Wells’ The Time Machine and Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. We’re all familiar with the plot of Wells’ novella, and I can unconditionally recommend it as a fun, short, and creepy summer read. A Tale of Two Cities was a reread for me, but I loved it in high school and appreciate it even more now. And in reading these books, I found something amazing: the authors are funny. Dickens in particular is so dryly humorous that he actually makes me giggle while reading about the French Revolution. And in researching Wells and Dickens, I find that they were both progressive, intelligent, politically-active human beings who believed and worked hard for basic and universal human rights.
Maybe this is a newsflash to only me. (If so, thanks for keeping the eye rolling to a dull roar.) Anyhow, my first thought upon discovering this was, “I wonder how many other authors in the canon were politically active and progressive, and what does this say about the mind and personality of a successful writer as a whole?” That was just a passing thought, though. Mostly, I’m happy that that there is an established history of nuanced, funny writing that not only entertains but can change the world.
What other bright and funny classic authors am I missing? I’m specifically looking for novels written in the 1800s by humanists, and I should warn you that I couldn’t get farther than the second paragraph of The Last of the Mohicans.