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Topic: a classic you were surprised you DIDN'T like?

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Subject: a classic you were surprised you DIDN'T like?
Date Posted: 8/13/2007 5:44 PM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2006
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Had to ask the reverse question of achadamaia's earlier post: A Classic Lit book you were surprised you liked?

For me, it was Wuthering Heights.  I fully expected to love this book.  I had heard it was the all-time best romantic classic love story.  Not in my opinion.  I found that I didn't sympathize with any of the main romantic-interest characters.  They seemed flippant in their affections.  Beyond that, the writing style was hard to follow.  I've read lots of classical books, Old English, Middle English, but I found that Wuthering Heights seemed to deviate from common grammatical form.  For instance, at the end of one chapter, the first person voice belonged to Character A, and quotation marks were around the words of other characters.  The very next chapter begins with Character B using the first person voice, and Character A's words are now in quotation marks.  It took me a minute to discover who was actually speaking, after I scratched my head over (who I thought was) Charcater A's knowing things that he (I thought) was saying.  Turns out, it was Character B speaking this time, and it was understandable that she should know the things of which she was speaking.  Very confusing to me.

Any other dislikes?

~Jori

Date Posted: 8/13/2007 11:23 PM ET
Member Since: 7/9/2007
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This book isnt too old, but to most it is considered a classic. I absolutely hated On the Road by Jack Kerouac. It dragged on and took me forever to finish. This is the only book that I had to actually force myself to read. Believed to be one of the most important pieces of american literature, but I could do without it.



Last Edited on: 8/14/07 3:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/14/2007 12:33 AM ET
Member Since: 5/4/2007
Posts: 17
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Don Quixote is my most hated book of all time.  When I decided to read all the classics I never read in school, I made the mistake of choosing this as my first book.  It was pure torture.  Initially, I thought it was subtly funny...this clearly insane man running around doing senseless things.  But around 30 pages into it, it just became monotonous.  Not wanting to give up on my first selection, I forced my way through it, complaining about it to my husband the entire time.  He finally asked me why I just didn't stop reading it, but I insisted that I couldn't fairly judge it unless I finished it.  I can now say that the publisher of this book was far less sane than the main character.

Wuthering Heights is a close second.  It, too, was a difficult read (my own fault for always going for the unabridged editions), but it was also just pointless.  I'm supposed to believe these two people were in love?  Their behavior was hideous, and everything about the book was simply bleak and depressing.  I was so relieved when I read the last page, simply because it was finally over with!  It was so bad that for a full year I wouldn't touch another "romance" from that time period.  I was terrified of all things Bronte, even skipping past Jane Austen's works for fear they'd be equally worthless.  Fortunately I happened to catch Jane Eyre on tv one day & decided to give it another try, eventually falling in love with Pride & Prejudice as well, but Wuthering Heights almost did me in.

When I think of the hours of my life wasted on those two horrendous books, I can't help but wish the authors were still alive, just so I could yell at them for putting me through that!

Date Posted: 8/14/2007 3:12 PM ET
Member Since: 2/9/2007
Posts: 121
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Wuthering Heights is deffinitely one of the BAD ones. Also David Copperfield (by Charles Dickens) Now THAT is monotonous! Guy gets born, grows, grows some more, grows a little more, falls in love, falls in love again, grows old. The End. That Sentence summed up the whole book and is probably more entertaining than the book!

Date Posted: 8/14/2007 5:17 PM ET
Member Since: 8/8/2007
Posts: 4,454
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I must say that The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck did not spark any interest. I couldn't get involved with the characters...most of them didn't even have names. Like all bad books I just kept waiting for it to get better or to have an interesting pick up in the plot that grabbed my attention...but sadly no.

On the other hand I loved East of Eden and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

To add onto Bartering Bibliophile...I too found it difficult to read On the Road...however, I couldn't just stop reading it so I borrowed it on audio CD from the library ... listening to it proved to be perfect.

Date Posted: 8/14/2007 5:33 PM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2006
Posts: 457
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After Aimee mentioned a Dickens book, I remembered that Great Expectations was absolute torture to read.  But I had to for a college class that was required for students majoring in English and Secondary Education.  Guess what I majored in?  = )  We had to interview students and teachers about their literature choices: books students liked to read, and books that teachers required.  For the students' choices, I read a Danielle Steele novel (first and last one of my life!) and a Robert Heinlein book (again, first and last one).  For the teachers' picks, Great Expectations was one of them and I don't remember the other one.  GE just seemed like the most pointless story to me.  A woman left at the altar stops the forward motion of EVERYTHING in her life and house, and vows to train her niece (?) to break men's hearts as vengeance for her own broken heart.  Whatever.

~Jori

Date Posted: 8/15/2007 4:23 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,502
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David Copperfield and Great Expectations.  I loved Dickens "A Christmas Carol" and "A Tale of Two Cities" but I couldn't even get through these.

Date Posted: 8/16/2007 11:32 AM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2007
Posts: 60
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I have only been reading the classics for a few years, so I thought I would give Ernest Hemingway a shot. I started with The Sun Also Rises. I tried very hard to get through the whole thing and 3/4 of the way through I had to stop! I found the characters extremely shallow and uninteresting.  I am afraid to read anything else by Hemingway.... do all of his books have the same feel? Any recommendations?

 

Date Posted: 8/16/2007 10:28 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,502
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Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.  I love Wharton.  I didn't get why Age of Innocence was considered her best.  I thought Custom of the Country was a much better story.

Date Posted: 8/17/2007 12:43 AM ET
Member Since: 5/4/2007
Posts: 17
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In response to Domestikate:  My husband has filled our shelves with Hemingway and Hesse, two authors 've never been interested in, and the other night I commented on that to him.  He swears I should read A Farewell to Arms, which I was surprised to hear is a bit of a love story based on Hemingway's own experiences at war.  The oversimplified plot is that an American volunteer ambulance driver falls in love with a British nurse.  He tells me it's sweet and sad, but has refused to tell me how it ends.  I'm still a little afraid to read it simply because I remember what happened the last time I picked up a book by an author I knew I'd hate: Jane Austen (I have since bought every book by her).  So I guess A Farewell to Arms is next on my reading list.

Date Posted: 8/17/2007 12:35 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
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I agree with Wuthering Heights  -  In a rare thing, I actually liked the movie much better than the book. At least there, you could figure out why they liked each other.

Date Posted: 8/17/2007 3:42 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
Posts: 9,179
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Well, I guess that puts paid to my intention of reading Wuthering Heights next. :) I loved Jane Eyre and thought it best to read this but I guess not. I LOVE Jane Austen and Charles Dickens though. The only one I had a problem with was Bleak House.

One book that I could never get through was Age of Reason by Jean Paul Sartre. Of course, I was in my teens when I was reading that so maybe I should give it another shot. But I remember it being dry, dry, dry!

Nita

Date Posted: 8/17/2007 6:40 PM ET
Member Since: 3/15/2007
Posts: 63
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I also vote for Wuthering Heights. Since I loved Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, I fully expected to love Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, but I was really disappointed.

Alice in Wonderland is another that I just can't stand, and it's on everyone's list of favorites. but it's so twisted and creepy and nonsensical that I have no desire to read it to my kids.

Vanity fair - just couldn't slog through that one, and I gave up after 100 pages or so.

David Copperfield, however, is one of my very favorite books in the whole world.

Tina H.

 

 

Date Posted: 8/25/2007 2:41 AM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,502
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Another one: Lady Chatterley's Lover  I thought it was going to be really exciting.  What a dull book!

Date Posted: 8/26/2007 8:11 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 1,438
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Last Edited on: 3/8/14 9:48 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/28/2007 4:55 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2007
Posts: 20
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I have to agree about Wuthering Heights. It is the "type" of book I really should enjoy but I've never gotten into it. I'm still keeping a copy around, hoping someday I'll want to pick it up and give it another shot.

Date Posted: 8/29/2007 5:55 PM ET
Member Since: 3/12/2007
Posts: 4
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I know that Faulkner is supposed to be a Great American writer, but please!  It is terrible, terrible, terrible.  I didn't enjoy Wuthering Heights, nor do I enjoy much of anything by Dickens (whom my husband Loves and did his Honors Thesis on).  However, I think that Hemingway is a great writer.  He says exactly what he wants you to know.  There is no wondering if he meant this or that.  I love the simplicity of the writing mingled with the complexity of the characters and/or story.  Love Hemingway.

Kerry S.

Misplaced Heel

Date Posted: 9/4/2007 11:34 PM ET
Member Since: 3/10/2007
Posts: 6
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Oh yeah - Great Question!  (Not in any particular order, some by title, some authors.)

1.  Anything by Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Hunter Thompson.

2.  Swann's Way, Proust.  Good grief - what's it about?  And why is something so dense and difficult to read considered a classic?  I've never met anyone who read it for pleasure.

3.  Ulysses, James Joyce.  Get this:  On everyone's list of Top One Hundred Books of All Time.  I couldn't get through 3 pages.  Once again, has anyone ever read this for fun?

4.  The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass.  Jeez, I think this was a Nobel winner a couple of decades ago.   I was so excited to be the owner of a Nobel prize-winning book.  Opened it, read a few pages, kept glancing at the flyleaf in the hopes of understanding what I was reading.  Nothing.  A Big Fat Dud.

5.  Canterbury Tales, Chaucer.  And the point of reading this would be . . . ?

 

Date Posted: 9/5/2007 1:56 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2006
Posts: 314
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1. To the Lighthouse: The atmosphere was so oppressive that I stopped breathing when I read this one.

2. Winesburg, Ohio: I usually never say serious fiction feels dated but these stories seem really old-fashioned to me.

3. Brideshead Revisited. I don't know much about the origins of addicton but to me the central dramatic question --why does Whoozis drink so much- was never addressed.

 

Date Posted: 9/13/2007 3:52 PM ET
Member Since: 7/27/2007
Posts: 1,424
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I love Wuthering Heights, and I read Swann's Way and the rest of In Search of Lost Time for fun (I had a really slow job as a receptionist at the time). Bleak House is my favorite Dickens book.

I started but could not read The Pickwick Papers. I had a horrible time with To The Lighthouse the first time I read it, but forced myself to re-read it after I liked Mrs. Dalloway. It was alright the second time, but not something I'd rave about. I was 8 months pregnant when I tried to read Ulysses. I wanted to pound my head on my desk.

Date Posted: 9/16/2007 2:54 AM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2006
Posts: 457
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Celeste wrote:

Canterbury Tales, Chaucer.  And the point of reading this would be . . . ?

 

Well, for me the point of reading this would be to memorize the Prologue in Old English, be able to recite it (in O.E.), write it (in O.E.), and translate it into modern English. 

I know what you're thinking:  "This chick is NUTS!"  But it wasn't my idea!  I had to do that for an English class in college (part of my major).  I still find myself quoting parts of it, and my daughter (10) looks at me like I have rocks for brains.  My son (8), on the other hand, now wants to learn to speak Old English--instead of, say, Spanish or French.

~Jori

Date Posted: 9/19/2007 2:43 AM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,502
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To Kill A Mockingbird.  My friend loved it and told me what a wonderful book it was.  I just couldn't get into it.

Date Posted: 9/25/2007 6:04 PM ET
Member Since: 6/28/2007
Posts: 230
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NOBODY actually likes Ulysses.  I also read the Canterbury Tales in the original middle English and it still made more sense than Ulysses.

I enjoyed Wuthering Heights, so go figger.  I plowed through Middlemarch on principle and found it rough going, same with Moby Dick.

If you like Austen, check out Evelina by Frances Burney.  It's one of the inspirations for her early works.

Date Posted: 9/27/2007 9:30 AM ET
Member Since: 7/27/2007
Posts: 1,424
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Principle? Wasn't that what Middlemarch was about anyway? ;) It convinced me that I didn't want to read George Eliot, and I really wanted to like her.

Date Posted: 9/28/2007 11:31 AM ET
Member Since: 9/6/2006
Posts: 823
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I love most classic children's literature, but I REALLY hated The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald.

[on the other hand, I expected to hate Wuthering Heights but I am one of those sickos who loved it]



Last Edited on: 9/28/07 11:32 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
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