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Thread: Most difficult novels

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    Registered User EmptySeraph's Avatar
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    Most difficult novels

    Whether due to its jargon inspired hermetic highly latinized vocabulary or the fragmentary, idiosyncratic, elliptic style partaking to the stream of consciousness or the esoteric nature with the additional impenetrable and indissoluble themes, some book's difficulties are more conspicuous than others', and the sheer amount of effort they require in order to be accordingly perceived, which are some of the most difficult works you've read, or tried to read for that matter? Some options are obvious, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, The Sound and The Fury and other modernist projects. There are, of course, some other that, while yet quite traditional, are bordering on modernism, like James' The Ambassadors, and are still difficult to tackle.
    Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes.

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    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    I took a bit of time to settle into Gibbon's Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire, due to the richness of the prose and the sheer volume of the historical narrative.

    In the end I treated it like a fine wine and just dipped in and partook a sip as occasion required.

    M.

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I had trouble with The Leopard. It was so political. I had trouble with the last third of Lolita. I lost the thread and was not sure who and where everyone was.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    What was your reason for persisting to the end?

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    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    The Leopard was spell-binding with nostalgic angst towards the end. I gave up on Lolita early, but may try again sometime.

    As for Henry James, The Ambassadors was hard work but The Wings of the Dove and The Golden Bowl, written around the same time, were sheer magic. Written in dialogue a few years earlier, The Awkward Age is the most intractable James I have tackled. I recently finished The Tragic Muse and enjoyed it.
    Last edited by Gladys; 04-11-2017 at 07:13 AM. Reason: angst
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

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    Registered User Emil Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev67 View Post
    I had trouble with The Leopard. It was so political. I had trouble with the last third of Lolita. I lost the thread and was not sure who and where everyone was.
    I found the Risorgimento an interesting period of Europeean history but, as you say, the politics are very much to the fore. I haven't read The Leopard but there was a celebrated film made from it.

    l read Lolita which was a poetic disertation on pedophilia coupled with a travelogue of the US but I have to admit that it did go on a bit.
    I had more enjoyment from the film.
    "L'art de la statistique est de tirer des conclusions erronèes a partir de chiffres exacts." Napoléon Bonaparte.

    "Je crois que beaucoup de gens sont dans cet état d’esprit: au fond, ils ne sentent pas concernés par l’Histoire. Mais pourtant, de temps à autre, l’Histoire pose sa main sur eux." Michel Houellebecq.

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    Registered User Red Terror's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emil Miller View Post
    I found the Risorgimento an interesting period of Europeean history but, as you say, the politics are very much to the fore. I haven't read The Leopard but there was a celebrated film made from it.

    l read Lolita which was a poetic disertation on pedophilia coupled with a travelogue of the US but I have to admit that it did go on a bit.
    I had more enjoyment from the film.
    I was wondering what is pedophilia??? James Madison (father of the U.S. constitution & 4th president of the USA) when he was well into his 30s fell in love and was engaged with a 15-year old. She broke off the engagement and Madison was despondent for months. Is that pedophilia??? Hmmmm ...
    There has never been a single, great revolution in history without civil war. --- Vladimir Lenin

    There are decades when nothing happens and then there are weeks when decades happen. --- Vladimir Lenin

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magnocrat View Post
    What was your reason for persisting to the end?
    I am not quite sure why I persisted with The Leopard. It was an interesting subject. Feudalism in Italy was giving way to a more modern world. The protagonist was an aristocrat. Obviously he would have preferred things the old way, but he could see that if he did not want to be swept away he would have to compromise. The protagonist was a very shrewd person. Yes, there was a good film with Burt Lancaster dubbed into Italian.

    I got two-thirds through Lolita before I started to lose the thread. I think it was the least good part of the novel anyway. It seemed a pity not to finish it and tick it off the list.
    Last edited by kev67; 04-11-2017 at 03:47 PM.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User Emil Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Terror View Post
    I was wondering what is pedophilia??? James Madison (father of the U.S. constitution & 4th president of the USA) when he was well into his 30s fell in love and was engaged with a 15-year old. She broke off the engagement and Madison was despondent for months. Is that pedophilia??? Hmmmm ...
    Well, it varies according to location: in some countries the age of consent might be as low as 12 whereas in the UK it currently stands at sixteen. In the US it varied in some Southern states during the 1950s while it may have been higher in the North.
    I don't know what the US situation is at present.
    "L'art de la statistique est de tirer des conclusions erronèes a partir de chiffres exacts." Napoléon Bonaparte.

    "Je crois que beaucoup de gens sont dans cet état d’esprit: au fond, ils ne sentent pas concernés par l’Histoire. Mais pourtant, de temps à autre, l’Histoire pose sa main sur eux." Michel Houellebecq.

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    You could complicate the definition further by introducing the very widespread activity in schools between underaged children. Society must decide these things and we must keep the rules of the society we occupy. Freedom has been greatly increased in the UK we now have same sex marriage. Its a slow process not instigated by one person. I do not think pedophillia will ever be legalised but the rules will be adjusted.

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