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Thread: The Worst Classics You Have Ever Read

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    Left 4evr Adolescent09's Avatar
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    The Worst Classics You Have Ever Read

    Have you found any classics that were simply unappealing yet according to to the general public considered some of the most outstanding literary works ever? List classics you have read that have disinterested you and made you slog through several pages of pure banality.

    Here are a few I can think of off the top of my head:

    1. Catch-22
    2. The Catcher in the Rye
    3. A Streetcar Named Desire
    4. slow, superfluous chapters in the middle of Moby Dick (although I love the beginning and ending)

    If this topic becomes semi-successful it might even be good to state reasons why you found certain classics unappealing (without getting too controversial or starting rants).

    Good day, people
    Last edited by Adolescent09; 05-02-2007 at 12:42 AM.
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    Registered User Aunty-lion's Avatar
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    Ooooh. What a great idea for a thread! Well done Adol!

    I must admit that I loved Catch 22. My mother always hated it until my father read it aloud to her. She thinks that it needs to be read in a certain voice, or, a in an assortment of different voices. But it sounds like her problem with the book was more to do with not really getting all the jokes or the tone of the book in general. It sounds like you have a different issue. Is it poorly constructed in your opinion, or just not your cup of tea??

    A lot of my friends recommended Vanity Fair to me, but I gave up after the first 60 pages or so because all the characters just seemed so vacant and uninteresting. I suppose that's probably the point. Does anyone have an opinion about this?? Does it get better? Should I try again?
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    Shinigami wannabe malwethien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adolescent09 View Post
    Have you found any classics that were simply unappealing, writtten poorly and devoid of a plot with any concievable substance, yet according to to the general public considered some of the most outstanding literary works ever? List classics you have read that have disinterested you and made you slog through several pages of pure banality.

    Here are a few I can think of off the top of my head:

    1. Catch-22
    2. The Catcher in the Rye
    Catch-22 and Catcher in the Rye...are you serious?? These are 2 of my faovirte books! I think these 'devoid of plot with any concievable substance' is a bit harsh Of course that is your opinion...but I'd like to know why you think so...
    "Deep in the fundamental heart of mind and universe...there is a reason."

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    Middlemarch, although my claim to have read it is questionable.
    What is the use of a violent kind of delightfulness if there is no pleasure in not getting tired of it.
    - Gertrude Stein

    A washerwoman with her basket; a rook; a red-hot poker; th purples and grey-greens of flowers: some common feeling which held the whole together.
    - Virginia Woolf

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    Left 4evr Adolescent09's Avatar
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    Hello Aunty-lion and thank you for replying to this topic with warm appreciation. I find it interesting that you say your mother found interest in Catch-22 after it was read to her.. I have experienced certain books boring when read softly but far more interesting when read aloud but as for Joseph Heller's Catch-22 I believe believe my main grudge against it is the in the way he seems to convolude paragraphs with details upon details which seems to be arbitrarily sloshed together... Take this paragraph for example:

    Being born with a sickly resemblance to Hnery Fonda was the first of a long series of practical jokes of which destiny was to make Major Major the unhappy victim throughout his joyless life. Being born Major Major Major was the second. The fact that he had been born Major Major Major was a secret known only to his father. Not until Major Major was enrolling in kindergarten was the discovery of his real name made, and then the effects were disastrous. The news killed his mother, who just lost her will to live and wasted away and died, which was just fine with his father, who had decided to marry the bad-tempered girl at A & P if he had to and who had not been optimistic about his chances of getting his wife off the land without paying her some money or flogging her.
    ...Now I'm not claiming that this paragraph isn't amusing but can it seriously be called brilliant? I respect your opinion on the book and everyone else who is a die-hard fan of it and Joseph Heller's other works but I am baffled that a few people have claimed it is "the greatest classic of all time" while others have compared its humor to certain Shakespear plays.

    ----

    I'm sorry I can't give you an opinion on Vanity Fair because I haven't read it myself. I'll try to get to William Thackeray after I overcome this mound of Joyce/Dostoevsky.
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    Left 4evr Adolescent09's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by malwethien View Post
    Catch-22 and Catcher in the Rye...are you serious?? These are 2 of my faovirte books! I think these 'devoid of plot with any concievable substance' is a bit harsh Of course that is your opinion...but I'd like to know why you think so...
    I guess Catch-22 is not my "cup of tea" as some might say it and the only part of The Catcher in the Rye I found interesting was near the very last page when Caulfield is with his little sister. The F-words were a complete turn off and made me almost rip the book from rage and Caulfield's stuck-up demeanor annoyed me. I didn't even understand the point of the book in general.. and if anything I believe the book conveys a false message by showing a protagonist who avidly smokes, drinks and excercises several attempts to get in contact with a girl who makes him feel amorous... let alone the hooker..

    I'm sorry if my phrase "devoid of a plot..." has offended you or anyone else. It actually sounds a bit self-contradictory because I wanted this topic to be very open to diverse perceptions. I will see if I can edit that in my main post and thanks for replying
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    Shinigami wannabe malwethien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adolescent09 View Post
    I guess Catch-22 is not my "cup of tea" as some might say it and the only part of The Catcher in the Rye I found interesting was near the very last page when Caulfield is with his little sister. The F-words were a complete turn off and made me almost rip the book from rage and Caulfield's stuck-up demeanor annoyed me. I didn't even understand the point of the book in general.. and if anything I believe the book conveys a false message by showing a protagonist who avidly smokes, drinks and excercises several attempts to get in contact with a girl who makes him feel amorous... let alone the hooker..

    I'm sorry if my phrase "devoid of a plot..." has offended you or anyone else. It actually sounds a bit self-contradictory because I wanted this topic to be very open to diverse perceptions. I will see if I can edit that in my main post and thanks for replying
    Adolescent don't apoligize...of course that is your opinion and I wasn't offended. Hmmm...where to start? I think I kinda understand what you are trying to say...and I actually can't explain why I or a lot of people like these novels. Maybe you need to read it in the context they were written in? Holden Caulfield is kind of an 'icon' representing the 'coming of age' of a young man...the frustration felt by teenagers of that age...I'm no literary expert so you'd have to excuse me - or the others reading this - my explanation is mine alone and comes from my own experience of reading the novels. Catch-22 is usually seen as an anti-war novel and I think the reason why it was written so...funny and absurd is because Heller was poking fun of the war - the absurdity of it all and how nonsensical it all is. Maybe if you read the background of these novels, you will look at it in another light?

    Just a thought...do you think that protagonists should be 'flawless?' Just asking since you pointed out that Holden is a protagonist that has lots of vices...so, do you believe in the protagonist who is all good and moral?

    I have also read A Streetcar Named Desire...but I can't remember the story so I didn't comment on it....
    "Deep in the fundamental heart of mind and universe...there is a reason."

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    Registered User aeroport's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aunty-lion View Post
    A lot of my friends recommended Vanity Fair to me, but I gave up after the first 60 pages or so because all the characters just seemed so vacant and uninteresting. I suppose that's probably the point. Does anyone have an opinion about this?? Does it get better? Should I try again?
    I gave up near the halfway point, for much the same reasons. I was doing a project over basically any work of British literature before 1900-ish and thought I would be cool and ambitious, but it was just not the thing. However, it is definitely considered really great, and as I'm increasingly disgusted with this habit of mine of not finishing books I'll probably go back and do it sometime when there's less pressure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Adolescent09 View Post
    I'll try to get to William Thackeray after I overcome this mound of Joyce/Dostoevsky.
    I rather wonder when Joyce will appear on this thread...

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    What I actually like about Catch is how he starts telling you something completely off... and you wonder 'why was I reading about this in the first place?'. The Catcher in the Rye also has some of that, so perhaps we have found out your pattern, Adolescent09? Just teasing.

    Anyway, I have to agree on some of the ones you've already said: certainly Vanity Fair was a pain, I also dropped it after a while out of sheer boredom for whatever happened to the characters. One day they were showing the movie on TV, I watched just to see 'more or less' what happens, after all. Not that interesting.

    And Middlemarch, on the other hand, interests me deeply. I have begun it a few times, but I suddenly get to the politics part and stop short- that's just so blah. But I'll have to finish it someday, just for the sake of the what-happens-next.

    Definitely, though, my most-loathed classic would have to be Hemingway's Old Man & The Sea- that book was so disappointing! Supposedly one of the best things you'll read in literature... and I found it so boring...
    Recently I thought of picking it up again, you know, perhaps when I had read it the first time I was too young and unappreciative; but my sister, who feels as I do about that book, shook her head vigorously.

    I am open to being convinced otherwise regarding that book. So many people seem to like Hemingway, I believe I am doing something wrong...
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    Registered User Aunty-lion's Avatar
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    I just wrote a great long post about why I love that passage from Catch 22 and I accidentally deleted it so I'm gonna just leave it for now.

    I actually can't explain why I or a lot of people like these novels. Maybe you need to read it in the context they were written in?
    That's a really good point.

    Don't stress Adol, this is a really cool idea for a thread. I'm wondering if you didn't like the F-word in Catcher because you don't like cursing full-stop, or because you didn't think it added to the book.....
    Last edited by Aunty-lion; 05-02-2007 at 01:13 AM.
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    Shinigami wannabe malwethien's Avatar
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    I just realized that I haven't actually listed an answer. The thing with me is, when I find a book boring, I usually stop reading it, so I actually don't know what happens afterwards...ok, I have one.... The Sound and the Fury by Faulkner. I read that about halfway and thought...."huh?" James Joyce too..."The Portrait of an Artist..." and "Ulysses"
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    Registered User Aunty-lion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesian View Post
    I gave up near the halfway point, for much the same reasons. I was doing a project over basically any work of British literature before 1900-ish and thought I would be cool and ambitious, but it was just not the thing. However, it is definitely considered really great, and as I'm increasingly disgusted with this habit of mine of not finishing books I'll probably go back and do it sometime when there's less pressure.
    Yeah, well that's the weird thing, I never leave books unfinished...
    Maybe I just didn't get it.
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    Have you found any classics that were simply unappealing yet according to to the general public considered some of the most outstanding literary works ever?

    Yes, Wuthering Heights! Bloody boring book and movie too. Although I don't mind the Bronte family. I own all their novels, but can't say I've read any of them except Jane Eyre.

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    Registered User Aunty-lion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onyx View Post
    Yes, Wuthering Heights! Bloody boring book and movie too. Although I don't mind the Bronte family. I own all their novels, but can't say I've read any of them except Jane Eyre.
    What is boring about it? I don't know if I'd say it was my favourite book ever, but I certainly didn't find it boring. I always found it quite melodramatic if anything.
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    Shinigami wannabe malwethien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onyx View Post
    Have you found any classics that were simply unappealing yet according to to the general public considered some of the most outstanding literary works ever?

    Yes, Wuthering Heights! Bloody boring book and movie too. Although I don't mind the Bronte family. I own all their novels, but can't say I've read any of them except Jane Eyre.
    LOL onyx...why didn't you like Wuthering Heights? Was it the characters you dind't find appealing or just the story as a whole? You liked Jane Eyre better than Wuthering Heights? I'm the opposite....
    "Deep in the fundamental heart of mind and universe...there is a reason."

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