Earlier this month, Rebecca McQuillan's column in The Herald posed an emotional/intellectual dilemma: "I won’t let 'Me Too' spoil my view of our literary classics". Indeed, her comment “It is never straightforward, coming to terms with our collective history”, could be an example of that egregious figure of speech, "litotes" – understatement.

Nevertheless, for years, I was in love – the mad, passionate kind – with someone other than my wife. Furthermore, this femme fatale’s romantic interest in another caused angst the like of which didn’t dissipate until I saw "Calamity Jane" – mercifully a story for another "Day".

For in my nonage I fell hook, line and Missouri sinker for Becky Thatcher, Tom Sawyer’s paramour in Mark Twain’s novels. Based on Laura Hawkins, real-life friend of Samuel Clemens, blue-eyed Becky had long, blonde, braided hair, and gave Tom a purple rose and a kiss to seal their “engagement”. Sigh!

During Louis XIV’s reign, a stranger spent decades in the Bastille. His identity unknown, or why he was in jail, the prisoner was never seen without a black velvet face mask. Alexandre Dumas’ popular myth turned the mask into “Iron”. Historians agree he existed. So who was he?

One theory holds that he was a lowly valet implicated in a political scandal, but he’s also been identified as a debauched nobleman, failed assassin and twin brother of Louis XIV. Whatever! His fight for justice and the struggles of the Three Musketeers for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity have yet a resonance in the geopolitics of contemporary life. And may still rouse the passions in many a breast.

As do, say, the exploits of John Buchan’s Richard Hannay; R.L Stevenston’s “buccaneers and buried gold”; brutal justice set aside the innocence of Scout, Jem, Dill, and the integrity of Atticus Finch in H.Lee’s Pulitzer-prize winning, "To Kill a Mockingbird"; Dickens against endemic poverty and Victorian amorality. "Classics" one-and-all; page turners too.

But I return to love and to Thomas Hardy whose eponymous "Tess of the D’Urbervilles" surely wrought every protective vestige from his (male) readers. Subtitled, "A Pure Woman", it was Tess whose “spirit rose automatically as the sap in the twigs” being “unexpended youth, surging up … bringing with it hope and the invincible instinct towards self-delight".

So I’m with you "Becky" McQuillan – and ‘self-delight’ in the classics.