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Thread: Saddest/Most Depressing Novel You've Ever Read

  1. #211
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    Quote Originally Posted by Annamariah View Post
    1984, Wuthering Heights, Tess of D'Urbervilles and Atonement are really depressing.
    Agreed. Jude the Obscure is also incredibly bleak. Oddly, though, I don't find Hardy depressing. Maybe it's because, though he did have a bleak view of life, he was himself relatively cheerful. Other writers, like Conrad and Larkin, who suffered from depression, really get me down. It's as if the depression seeps into their work.

    Dickens is a fairly cheerful writer, but there are desperately sad moments in his novels. When Joe the roadsweeper cleans up the grave of his friend in Bleak House, because it's all he can do for him, it really gets to me. Even thinking about that scene brings tears to my eyes. Then there is A Christmas Carol. Yes, it's sentimental, and yes Tiny Tim is nauseating, but I cannot get through any version of this, not even the Muppet version, without crying like a baby. I also find Pip's treatment of Joe in Great Expectations unbearable.

    The Patrick Melrose novels, by Edward St Aubyn, are very sad.

    There is a poem by Blake, called The Chimney Sweep' which I can't read without crying. I have no idea why. It is literally the only poem to have that effect on me. The line "wash in a river and shine in the sun" gets me every time.

    The war poetry of men like Wilfred Owen and Keith Douglas are very sad, mainly because both were killed.

  2. #212
    For me, the most depressing novel was Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”. This is really a very emotional story.

  3. #213
    I read Anna Karenina in college. We had a task to write an essay about a work of Russian literature. I chose this particular novel because my sister advised me. I was very impressed after reading this book. I learned many life lessons from this book. Love and family relationships are the main issues in this book. Many say that books are just papers, but they are greatly mistaken. In the books you can see the emotions and experiences of the author. His world view on life situations. If you do not want to read the book, but you need to complete the assignment, then you can buy a college essay on the Paperial.com. But I highly recommend reading this book to understand what the author wanted to say. Love in this book is described as something highly moral. This unexplained feeling that people sometimes feel unwillingly. This is something that cannot be called a purchase or something that can be bought.
    Last edited by Todd Lakes; 06-18-2019 at 05:52 AM.

  4. #214
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haroldskimpole View Post
    I have felt depressed reading the following (maybe it was just me at the time):

    Charlotte Bronte Vilette

    Erskine Childers The Riddle of the Sands

    E W Hornung Raffles

    A couple of people have mentioned The Idiot. It was the first great Russian classic I ever read, and I re-read it again this year. Awe inspiring, yes, but not depressing for me.
    Funny you should mention those precise three because I found them deeply depressing as well. Mind you I was reading The Riddle of the Sands (set just before the outbreak of World War 1) just after 9/11 and it seemed horribly possible.

    I haven't a clue why I found Raffles depressing but I did. I read Vilette at a time when I was anxious for other reasons.

    I don't find The Idiot depressing at all. I'm a bit sorry for Anna Karenina but none what so ever for Vronsky.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

  5. #215
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    And there is a big difference between depression and feeling sad or emotionally moved. I'd say depression means an inability not to feel and knowing misery as a result. I used to feel emotionally uplifted if I was moved to tears and that made me love the novel. I've cried reading all George Eliot's novels when I was younger. Now I find them worthy and leaving me cold.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

  6. #216
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    Someone above mentioned Ian McEwan's Atonement, which was the first title that occurred to me when I read the title of the thread. But Atonement is also one of the best modern novels I have read in maybe ten years, so my second thought was similar to JR's distinction between depressing books and sad or emotionally moving ones.

    I would go even further: novels that depress rather than move are doing something wrong, usually aiming for the latter but not achieving it. I think of Chang-rae Lee's irritatingly depressing Native Speaker, which included a deus ex machina toddler death. Yuck--who needs that? Another Korean-American novel, Pachinko, is full of upsetting incidents, but it is (usually) genuinely moving because its tragedies great and small derive from human nature and paradoxes and smallness before history.

    With that distinction in mind then (and at the cost of writing my first LitNet list in years), I found the following books (in no particular order) sad but moving:

    Atonement by Ian McEwan

    Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

    Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

    The Human Stain by Philip Roth

    The Road by Cormac McCarthy (I note that some do find this one depressing--it is at least mighty bleak).

    I have reviewed Atonement, Pachinko, and Remains of the Day on the Book Review thread (if anyone is interested). I will probably add Never Let Me Go, The Human Stain, and a few others before long. I've written enough on LitNet about The Road, though
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 06-10-2019 at 08:19 PM.

  7. #217
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    I was very touched by the meningitis deaths of children in Thomas Mann's "Doctor Faustus" and Hermann Hesse's "Rosshalde." While still having to read Anna Karenina I was deeply moved by the plight of Effi Briest and Madame Bovary.

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